Saturday, September 5, 2015

Phillies Can’t Contain Red Sox Attack

GAME RECAP: Red Sox Beat Phillies 7-5

The Red Sox aren't in a pennant race, but they are creating a lot of excitement of late. In Friday night's 7-5 victory over the Phillies, that excitement came from Joe Kelly's right arm, and from the young bats of Mookie Betts and Xander Bogaerts. There were also standout plays by Betts and Rusney Castillo. "Those young guys have been playing really good baseball for a month now," said Red Sox interim manager Torey Lovullo. "It's been a lot of fun for us to watch. They're playing wide-open, comfortable, confident baseball that's helping us win games." Kelly has won seven straight starts, the longest streak in the Majors this season. Clinging to a one-run lead entering the seventh, the Red Sox broke it open with a four-spot. Jackie Bradley Jr. started the rally with a solo homer to center. Later in the inning, David Ortiz missed homer No. 496 by a few feet, but had an RBI double to help extend the lead. Over six innings, Kelly allowed five hits and two runs, walking three and striking out five. Phillies lefty Adam Morgan went 6 1/3 innings, allowing eight hits and six runs. "It's all about having a short memory," Morgan said. "Damage control. Trying not to let things get out of hand." The top three hitters in the Red Sox's lineup -- Betts, Brock Holt and Bogaerts -- had two hits each and combined for four RBIs. Odubel Herrera smashed a two-run homer into the Boston bullpen in right-center with two outs in the ninth to draw the Phillies a little closer. He finished with three hits and robbed Holt with a slick diving catch in the third.

  • As the Phillies threatened with men on first and second and no outs in the seventh, they missed out on an ideal chance to sacrifice both runners over when Freddy Galvis fouled out to third base on a bunt attempt. Herrera and Cesar Hernandez then struck out to end the inning. "That's one of the reasons I had him bunting 0-and-2. His job is to get the bunt down," Phillies interim manager Pete Mackanin said. "He's going to bunt, he's going to get it down. That's what he's got to do. And he failed to do it."
  • The game worsened for Philadelphia in the seventh when Morgan surrendered Bradley's homer, walked Betts and allowed Holt to single in consecutive at-bats. The Sox scored three more runs after he was relieved by Jeanmar Gomez, including one on an error by Ruf that saw Ortiz easily trot home from third. Morgan fell to 5-5 and watched his ERA rise to 4.42. "We were talking about not sending him back out for that inning, but I felt it was time for him to be extended in that kind of a situation, to see how he would react," Mackanin said. "He just made a bad pitch to Bradley. He had him eating out of his hand with the breaking stuff and he chose to throw him a first-pitch fastball and gave up the home run."
  • Morgan snapped his streak of 28 2/3 innings without a walk in the fifth, when he issued a free pass to Bradley on five pitches. His run was the longest by a Phillies pitcher since Cliff Lee tossed 30 straight innings without issuing a walk in 2013.

Right-hander Alec Asher, one of six players acquired from the Rangers in the Cole Hamels deal, will make his second Major League start in the middle game of the series. Asher lost to the Padres in his debut Sunday, allowing four runs on eight hits through 5 2/3 innings. Before that, he logged a 2.08 ERA in four starts with Triple-A Lehigh Valley. Lefty Wade Miley (10-10, 4.57 ERA) draws the start in Saturday's 4:05 p.m. ET game against the Phillies. Miley faced the Phillies three times during his time in the National League, going 1-1 with a 4.24 ERA. Miley gave up nine hits and four runs over six innings in a no-decision against the Mets on Sunday.


Herrera Providing Spark – While a late rally by the Phillies fell short in Friday night's 7-5 loss to the Red Sox, center fielder Odubel Herrera gave Philly fans another glimpse of the club's future with his electrifying presence atop the lineup. Herrera went 3-for-5, including a towering home run off closer Jean Machi in the ninth inning at Fenway Park, and took a hit away in the third by sprawling on the outfield grass for a nifty diving catch. The 23-year-old notched his 11th three-hit performance and improved his batting average to .351 (52-for-148) since the All-Star break. "I love the guy," Phillies interim manager Pete Mackanin said. "He can hit. Every time the ball's hit in the air, he wants to catch it. That's the kind of guy you want in center field." Herrera's diving grab had him tracking a Brock Holt popup all the way into shallow left-center near shortstop Freddy Galvis, but the fleet-footed Herrera beat his teammate to the ball and dropped to his knees as he thrust his glove underneath it. "The first time he saw the ball, the way he read it, [his] first move was fast," said infielder Andres Blanco, who acted as a translator for Herrera. "First two steps were fast. He knew that the ball wasn't hit that hard, and he just came at it quickly." Six innings later, Herrera anticipated a first-pitch fastball from Machi, turned on the heater and sent it sailing into the Boston bullpen for his seventh home run. Statcast™ projected the ball to land 390 feet away from home plate at an exit speed of 108 mph. "He was glad he got the pitch he was thinking," Blanco said. Of course, Herrera's game is not without flaws. Mackanin noted that his young center fielder can still improve in certain situations, such as when he attempted to bunt for a hit in the third. "I don't want him to do that," Mackanin said. "He's probably our best hitter right now. I want him to drive those runs in. Those things he's got to get in his head." Herrera, whether he's hitting leadoff or cleanup next season, simply wants to keep those compliments coming. "He says he feels blazing," Blanco said. "And hopefully the manager keeps praising him every time he goes to bat."

Return To The Infield – For the first time since May 11, Cody Asche suited up as the Phillies' third baseman in Friday's 7-5 loss to the Red Sox at Fenway Park. While his defensive showing lacked any highlights, the 25-year-old flashed exactly the sort of patience Philadelphia hopes to see on offense by drawing two walks and capping off an 11-pitch at-bat with a double. "It's a way to get in the lineup for me," Asche said. "So that excites me, being in the lineup again. I'll give it my best." Asche's return to the hot corner comes with the highly touted Maikel Franco still sidelined by a fractured left wrist. With Franco's status up in the air, the team has made it clear that they would like to give the 25-year-old Asche more at-bats down the stretch. The opening at third, while perhaps not the ideal defensive configuration, gives Phillies interim manager Pete Mackanin a chance to do just that. "He's going to be fine over there," Mackanin said after the game. "Once again, we need to get him at-bats. We're not playing for a division. We're playing for next year and beyond that. And all these things from my point of view, that's my job, to find out as much as we can about [Darin] Ruf and Asche ... and everybody. That's the point of this." Through Friday, Asche owns a .251/.298/.383 slash line with seven home runs and 24 RBIs. Of late, he had played all of his games in left field, but the results have been mixed. Asche had played exclusively at third throughout his first two seasons with the Phillies. "He played adequately and showed improvement," Mackanin said. "I would consider him an average left fielder at this point." Despite the nearly four-month layoff from third, Asche did not anticipate feeling much rust in jumping back into a regular role at third. "You never really know how those things are going to go until you go through it," Asche said. "It's something new for me in my career. It'll be a new experience. But I have confidence in myself that I can handle it and do it well."

Start Planning For 2016 – There will be no disabled list stint for Phillies right fielder Domonic Brown, but the concussion he suffered during Wednesday's game could be enough to sideline him for longer than seven days -- and perhaps even for much of September. Brown, who took a hard fall while flipping over the short right-field wall at Citi Field, was diagnosed with a concussion after returning to Philadelphia on Thursday with symptoms. The Phillies will not place him on the seven-day DL with roster expansion in effect, but he needs to clear Major League Baseball's concussion protocol before he can return. "It could conceivably happen before [next weekend]," assistant general manager Scott Proefrock said Friday. "but again, I think that's not likely." The 28-year-old Brown has hit .228 with five home runs in 63 games. Once a heralded prospect in the Phillies' system, his future with the team is uncertain, especially considering he will again be arbitration-eligible this offseason. With just one month remaining, the odds of him taking the field again this season appear slim. "It's going to be difficult for him to get back into action," Phillies interim manager Pete Mackanin said. "We'll just have to wait and see how mild or severe it is, or whatever his status is. The fact is that we've got other guys to see as well." The players Mackanin references include outfielders Aaron Altherr and Darnell Sweeney, both of whom started Friday's series opener against the Red Sox. Brown's absence should create more opportunities for Altherr and Sweeney now that Cody Asche is expected to see more time at third base, and the team would like to see the pair play more alongside center fielder Odubel Herrera. Jeff Francoeur will also work his way into the mix, but Mackanin felt more than comfortable with the veteran's body of work in 2015. Francoeur has hit .271 with 12 home runs and a .465 slugging percentage. "He's done a fabulous job in his role," Mackanin said. "He doesn't need to prove anything to us or baseball. He's still a very good outfielder, and can contribute very well offensively. Those are check-marks that we don't have to worry about." Third baseman Maikel Franco (left wrist fracture) will be reevaluated by a doctor Tuesday after experiencing pain while swinging a bat earlier this week. Like Brown, Franco's chances of playing before the season ends appear doubtful. "The closer we get to the end of the season, or the middle of September, the less likely it seems that he's even going to participate," Mackanin said. "But we're hopeful. If he's 100 percent with 10 days to go, I'd like to see him play."

Season Over – The Phillies transferred left-handed reliever Elvis Araujo (left groin strain) to the 60-day disabled list and added outfielder Brian Bogusevic to their 40-man roster, the club announced on Friday. Araujo originally went on the 15-day DL on Aug. 27, when he was injured during the 11th inning of a game against the Mets, so the move will effectively end his season. The southpaw pitched to a 3.38 ERA in 34 2/3 innings as a rookie, struggling with command at times, but also averaging a promising 8.83 strikeouts per nine innings. Bogusevic has a slash line of .296/.359/.424 with 12 home runs in 118 games for Triple-A Lehigh Valley. The 31-year-old journeyman last appeared in the Majors during the 2013 season as a member of the Cubs, and he spent the first seven years of his professional career in the Astros' organization. "I think we wanted to make sure we had a full complement of players," assistant general manager Scott Proefrock said. "Brian had done a great job for us playing at Triple-A. [He] was deserving of an opportunity." Bogusevic will provide the Phillies with some depth in the outfield while Dominic Brown undergoes concussion evaluations in Philadelphia this weekend. Brown did not travel with the team to Boston.

The Phillies have returned to their lackluster ways and regained their grip on last place in the NL East with a record of 53-82. 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 49-63-3 on this day.

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