Saturday, September 19, 2015

Phillies Can’t Complete Comeback Against Braves

GAME RECAP: Braves Edge Phillies 2-1

Cameron Maybin delivered a go-ahead single in the fourth inning and some solid bullpen work preserved the effort Williams Perez provided while helping the Braves claim a 2-1 win over the Phillies on Friday night at Turner Field. Adonis Garcia's first-inning double and Maybin's two-out single accounted for the only runs Phillies starter Adam Morgan surrendered over six innings. But the production was enough for the Braves, who have won just five of their past 31 games. Three of those victories have been recorded against the Phillies. "It's been a rough year for all of us," Braves first baseman Freddie Freeman said. "It's nice to see the positive side of things. The whole pitching staff had a great game tonight. Hopefully they can carry that into tomorrow and we'll get a series win." Perez scattered six hits over 5 2/3 innings and limited the Phillies to just one run, which came courtesy of Cameron Rupp's two-out solo homer in the second inning. The Braves bullpen stranded eight runners while completing 3 1/3 scoreless innings. Arodys Vizcaino notched three strikeouts during a scoreless ninth inning that was marred by Hector Olivera error. Vizcaino notched three strikeouts, the last of which resulted in a wild pitch that landed in the stands and loaded the bases before Darin Ruf lined out to end the game. "They gave us, what, six outs in that ninth inning? And we couldn't capitalize," Phillies interim manager Pete Mackanin said. "Just an overall disappointing night. Just a bad night."

  • The Phillies had a chance to break open the game in the sixth -- or at least get even, considering they were trailing 2-1 at the time -- but couldn't come through with two outs and the bases loaded. After knocking out Perez, and going through reliever Brandon Cunniff, Mackanin sent veteran Jeff Francoeur up against McKirahan. Six pitches later, every one of them a strike, Francoeur, the ex-Brave, struck out on an 84-mph slider.
  • After Garcia hit an RBI double in the first, he strayed off second base and was tagged by an alert Ruf. Second-base umpire Jim Joyce's original safe call was overturned after the Phillies issued their first challenge of the game.
  • Pinch-hitter Chase d'Arnaud, stepping in for Morgan, led off the seventh inning with a bouncer to short. Andrelton Simmons fielded it and made a long-bounce throw to first, where first-base umpire Pat Hoberg called d'Arnaud out. The Phillies challenged, the call was overturned, and d'Arnaud was awarded an infield single.
  • Later in the seventh, d'Arnaud was tagged out at the plate when McKirahan fielded Odubel Herrera's comebacker and flipped the ball out of his glove to Bethancourt. The Phillies were unsuccessful with their challenge that Bethancourt violated the plate-blocking rule.

Rookie right-hander Jerad Eickhoff (1-3, 3.90 ERA) is scheduled to make his sixth start of the season Saturday night at 7:10 ET when the Phillies and Braves square off in the second game of this three-game set. Eickhoff has made it to the sixth inning in all but one of his starts. Atlanta will counter with Ryan Weber, who will be making his third career start. Weber surrendered two runs over six innings while making his Major League debut against the Phillies on Sept. 9.


Rookie Making Progress – Adam Morgan put together one of those starts Friday that was good enough for a win. But, in a year of tough losses for the Phillies, the outcome did not go his way. The Braves hung a loss on the Phillies' left-hander in a hard-luck 2-1 decision despite six better-than-good innings in which Morgan gave up only the two runs, didn't walk anyone and was so efficient that he needed just 70 pitches to get through his start. He threw only 18 balls in his six innings, and zipped first-pitch strikes to the final 15 batters he faced. Over his last seven starts, he's struck out 24 hitters and walked only three. He's 2-4 in those games. "He's been pitching very well. He could have a few more wins than he does," interim manager Pete Mackanin said. "We just got to drive some runs in." Morgan (5-7, 4.48 ERA) wasn't perfect Friday, but he made maybe three mistakes that cost him: He left a pitch over the plate that Adonis Garcia reached down and poked off the wall in right-center in the first inning, driving in a run. In the fourth, he hung a changeup to Freddie Freeman, who held back on it just long enough to pull a soft double down the right-field line. And, two pitches later, he hung a first-pitch slider to Cameron Maybin, who lined it into center to score Freeman. Two or three mistakes in six innings of work, for almost anyone, is not too shabby. "It's not bad," Morgan said, "but I can do better." Morgan clearly could have gone at least another inning, and maybe more than that, the way he was dealing. But in the seventh, trying to score a run, Mackanin chose to pinch-hit for his starter to lead off the inning. And that was Morgan's night. "I always want to finish what I started. I still felt good," Morgan said. "But, you know, the manager pinch-hit for me at a good time and a time he felt was right. I can't argue with that." After his 28th start of the season -- including 13 at Triple-A Lehigh Valley -- Morgan looks as if he has plenty left to give the Phillies as they head toward the finish line. He has thrown 152 2/3 innings between the Phils and the Minors in his first full season since coming back from Jan. 2014 left shoulder surgery. He said Friday he expects the ball a couple more times before the end of the season. "I'm happy with where I'm at," said Morgan, "but I'm not where I want to be at. I'm not exactly where I want to be."

Continuing To Recover – Ryan Howard was out of the Phillies' lineup again on Friday, still nursing a sore left knee that he bruised in Monday's 8-7 loss against the Nationals. But Philadelphia continues to be hopeful that it hasn't seen the last of its slugging first baseman this year. "If 7-10 days go by and he hasn't seen live pitching, then it becomes an issue there. And is it worth [it] to run him out there? So we'll just go day to day there," interim manager Pete Mackanin said Friday before the Phillies took on the Braves in the first of a three game series at Turner Field. "I'd like to get him back in there. He's a very good presence in that lineup. Without [Maikel] Franco and Cesar [Hernandez] in there, it's a lot different lineup." Franco broke his left wrist when he was hit by a pitch on Aug. 11. Hernandez dislocated his thumb during a play at first base on Sunday against the Cubs. Howard, who took a one-hop throw off his knee in the game against the Nationals, was walking around in the clubhouse before Friday's game with his left knee wrapped. He made it out to batting practice, limping slightly, but he didn't participate. He had an MRI on Tuesday which showed no structural damage. "For me, I don't care if the guy takes a driver's license test. All I want to know is if he can play or not. Whatever bone or muscle hurts … I don't care. I just want to know if he can play," Mackanin said. "It's better than expected, I think. He's going to start moving around a little bit, and then we'll just play it by ear and see how he adjusts or how he reacts."

The Phillies have returned to their lackluster ways and regained their grip on last place in the NL East with a record of 56-92. Given the departures, aging stars, injuries, and bipolar performances this season, this could still end up being the worst team in franchise history… at least that is something to hope for this year! All time, the Phillies are 44-62-2 on this day.

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