Thursday, September 3, 2015

Phillies Certainly Fielding A “Major League” Roster

GAME RECAP: Mets Finish Phillies 9-4

Nine runs, 16 hits, a breezy victory in front of more than 32,000 fans at Citi Field -- this sort of thing has become almost routine for the Mets as they continue chugging toward their first National League East title since 2006. The Mets moved another day closer to that goal with a 9-4 win Wednesday over the Phillies, maintaining their 6 1/2-game NL East lead. Ruben Tejada hit an inside-the-park home run, Michael Conforto and Yoenis Cespedes added more traditional shots and the Mets cruised from there, despite an uncharacteristic outing from Matt Harvey, who was experiencing dehydration symptoms. "You've got to be able to forget the night before," Mets manager Terry Collins said, referencing his team's lone loss Tuesday in the three-game series. "You have an ugly night, it happens. It's a part of the game. You have to move on and be ready for the next game." The Mets certainly were, rapping out nine of their 16 hits against Phillies rookie starter Aaron Nola -- like Harvey, a former No. 7 overall pick. Nola lasted just four innings, giving up two of the Mets' three home runs. "It wasn't one of [Nola's] better performances, but the defense really wasn't the greatest today," said Phillies interim manager Pete Mackanin. "We didn't come up with great plays."

  • With two outs in the second and a man on base, Tejada lifted a ball down the right-field line, where Domonic Brown made an unsuccessful lunge to grab it. As the ball drifted further down the line, Brown tumbled into the concrete area behind the wall, suffering a possible concussion. With no one around to back up Brown, Tejada sprinted around the bases for a two-run, inside-the-park home run. The exit velocity as tracked by Statcast™ was 74.5 mph, which is the lowest exit velocity of any home run tracked this year. "When I saw him in the stands, I tried to run as hard as I could," Tejada said.
  • Nola had allowed just one earned run in 15 innings in his previous two starts, but he allowed nine hits and six runs in just four innings against the Mets. It was the worst start of his nine-start career, but the Phillies' defense played a big part in it. From Brown going head-over-heels over the right-field wall to balls bobbled to ground balls under the gloves of Ryan Howard and Andres Blanco, the Phillies' defense extended the second and third innings for Nola, arguably leading to five of those runs. "An inch here, an inch there and it could have been a different story," Mackanin said.
  • The Phillies had runners at the corners and one out in the seventh, trailing 7-4, when Howard stepped to the plate against Mets left-hander Sean Gilmartin. Mackanin is sitting Howard against left-handed starters, but did not pinch-hit for Howard in this situation. Howard, who is hitting .137 with a .439 OPS in 102 plate appearances against lefties, hit into a double play. "When we had our discussion, [I said] 'I'm not going to play him against lefties, but I won't pinch-hit for him,'" Mackanin said. "He's been hitting against lefties for a long time, and I'm not going to be the one to pinch-hit for him."
  • "The ball is just travelling out. I guess these balls fly a little better because I don't know where it's coming from." -- Sweeney, who has three homers in 24 at-bats since joining the Phillies following the Chase Utley trade. He had nine homers in 472 at-bats with Triple-A Oklahoma City.
  • Brown left the game in the fourth inning with concussion concerns after flipping over the right-field wall. He traveled back to Philadelphia for further testing.
  • Morgan has not walked a batter in his past four starts, a total of 22 2/3 innings. He's walked a total of 14 this season.
  • The Phillies are one of two teams Kelly has not faced in his career. In 16 career games against the National League East, he is 3-0 with a 2.22 ERA.
  • In 42 career games against the Phillies, Red Sox third baseman Pablo Sandoval is hitting .264 with four home runs and 19 RBIs.

After a spectacular August, in which he went 6-0 with a 2.68 ERA, Red Sox right-hander Joe Kelly looks to continue his dominance in Friday's series opener against the Phillies, who will counter with left-hander Adam Morgan. Relying on his high-90s fastball during the first few months of the season, Kelly's ability to mix in his offspeed pitches has been a huge contributor to his success. "It's been a point of emphasis lately that no matter what team we're facing, I have to throw the offspeed [pitch]," Kelly said. "Earlier in the year, I was throwing all fastballs, and obviously that didn't work out. It's just something we've been trying to make a point of emphasis early on in the game. Mix in some offspeed pitches and try to get the hitters off the fastball." Morgan went six innings on Saturday against the Padres, allowing two unearned runs on four hits for the win. It marked the fifth time in his last six starts that Morgan went at least six innings.


NOT A Gold Glove Play – Phillies right fielder Domonic Brown crashed and flipped head-over-heels over the short wall in right field in the second inning of Wednesday's 9-4 Phillies loss at Citi Field. He left the game two innings later because of concerns about a concussion. An athletic trainer drove Brown to Philadelphia, where he will be seen on Thursday by a specialist. Brown had been pursuing a fly ball from Mets shortstop Ruben Tejada when it happened. The ball dropped, but Brown could not stop his momentum toward the wall. He flipped over the wall and appeared to hit the concrete floor in the seating area hard, although instant replay did not have a good look at it. Brown eventually got up, but not before Tejada circled the bases for a two-run, inside-the-park home run. Brown seemed to be OK after the incident and remained in the game until the bottom of the fourth. "He said he hit his knee," Phillies interim manager Pete Mackanin said. "That's what the trainer told me. He hit his knee. We asked him numerous times in the dugout, 'How do you feel? Are you OK?' He said, 'Yeah, I'm fine.' He didn't really look dazed or anything like that. The trainer came up to me the next inning and said he's done. "We don't want to see that happen to anybody. Hopefully, he'll be fine. If I was told he hit his head I would have taken him right out of the game." Mackanin said he does not expect Brown, who missed time in 2013 with a concussion, to be in Boston this weekend. "I guess he took that test and didn't score exceptionally well," Mackanin said.

The Performance Behind The Numbers – The line score shows that Phillies rookie Aaron Nola suffered the worst start of his nine-start career Wednesday night at Citi Field. He allowed nine hits, six runs and struck out four in just four innings in a 9-4 loss to the Mets. It was the shortest start of his career. It was the most runs he had allowed. "I felt good out there," Nola said. "Things kind of just unraveled. I missed a couple spots and they really made me pay for it." But he also got little help from his defense. Left fielder Darnell Sweeney had trouble picking up a ball in the corner in the second inning which might have allowed runners to take an extra base. One batter later Domonic Brown could not catch a fly ball in right field. Brown's momentum carried him to the short wall, where he flipped head-over-heels as the ball rolled to the wall. A single turned into a two-run inside-the-park home run. "Possibly a slide might have been a good idea because that way you don't worry about the wall," Phillies interim manager Pete Mackanin said. "That's the reason those guys do that. Or just back off it and play it in front of you. He made a good effort to try to catch it, then he got to the point where it was a little bit too late and he had no choice but to catch it on his shoestrings, and then he carried into the fence." Brown left the game with concussion concerns. Daniel Murphy then hit a ball under Ryan Howard's glove in the third inning. A potential second out turned into a one-run double. It proved costly when Michael Conforto hit a two-out, two-run home run to left. Three batters later Andres Blanco could not backhand a ball down the line, helping Travis d'Arnaud to a triple. "An inch here, an inch there and it could have been a different story," Mackanin said. "It wasn't one of [Nola's] better performances, but the defense really wasn't the greatest today. We didn't come up with great plays."

Return Uncertain – It sounded Monday like Phillies rookie Maikel Franco could be back at third base within the week. Then Franco, who broke his left wrist last month, took about 20 swings on Wednesday afternoon at Citi Field. "It was a problem," Franco said. "I felt something in my wrist. I don't know when I can come back." There remains a chance Franco could play again this season, but the Phillies will not rush their best hitter with a little more than a month to play. Plus, once the wrist heals, Franco can make up for any lost at-bats with plate appearances in winter ball. "They're going to back off for a day or two or more," Phillies interim manager Pete Mackanin said. "There's going to come a point where we'll probably end up shutting him down. That doesn't mean we will, but if another week goes by and we get into the middle of September and he's going to need rehab at-bats, I don't see the point in playing him for the final week or 10 days of the season. "Unless he's 100 percent, we're going to be careful." Franco was tossed a few balls in the batting cage. He said he felt some discomfort when he made contact with the ball. "It's the same thing. The same thing from when I was hit," Franco said. Franco was hit with a pitch on Aug. 11 in Arizona. "It's a big deal for me because I want to play," Franco said. "So it's hard to take. But I have to understand my situation right now. I know I want to play. I don't want to put us in the situation where I just go out and play. That could be a lot of trouble, a lot of problems."

Filling The Corners – Phillies rookie Darnell Sweeney started in left field Wednesday night at Citi Field, the third time he has started at a different position since he joined the organization last month. He previously started at second base and center field, but seeing Sweeney in left for the first time and Domonic Brown leave the game with concussion concerns made one wonder about the Phillies' corner outfielders next season and beyond. Sweeney seems to be viewed as more of a super utility player, but he has shown he can hit. He hit his third homer of the season in a 9-4 loss to the Mets. He also threw out Yoenis Cespedes at third from right field -- he moved from left to right when Brown left the game -- to end the sixth. "I like the way he looks at the plate, and he made that great throw to nail the runner at third base," Phillies interim manager Pete Mackanin said. "We'll be seeing more of him." But certainly somebody has to play the corners in the future. Cody Asche and Brown have received the bulk of plate appearances there this season. Asche is hitting .249 (86-for-345) with 20 doubles, two triples, seven home runs, 24 RBIs and a .673 OPS in 103 games. Brown is hitting .228 (43-for-289) with six doubles, one triple, five home runs, 25 RBIs and a .634 OPS in 63 games. If Asche and Brown had enough plate appearances to qualify, Asche would rank 60th and Brown would rank 63rd among 67 outfielders in OPS. "You look at some of the teams that have waited and have reaped the benefits of being patient with some players," Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. said. "We talk about Kansas City a lot, we talk about teams like Pittsburgh a lot. Guys like [Starling] Marte, [Gregory] Polanco, [Mike] Moustakas and [Eric] Hosmer. It doesn't often happen right away. It does take some time for people to adjust and readjust to being Major Leaguers. There are ebbs and flows. "Did I have more aspirations and hope Asche would have performed a little bit better based on how he played in 2014? Yes, but at the same time he was moving to new position. He had to make that adjustment. None of that stuff is easy." But if Asche and Brown are both back next season -- Brown is salary arbitration-eligible for the second time and it is far from certain he will be tendered a contract -- they will be pushed. Rookie Aaron Altherr has started eight of the previous 15 games in left field. He has started twice in right field. Double-A Reading outfielder Nick Williams could open next season at Triple-A Lehigh Valley. He could be knocking on the door before the end of next season. The Phillies also might try to bring back veteran Jeff Francoeur. If he returns (or if they sign another veteran) he will need to play, too. "When you start creating depth at the upper levels there's only good things that can happen," Amaro said. "It can push the incumbents to perform better. It will give us a good read whether or not some of the guys are up to the task and who wants a challenge. "This was a bit of a fact-finding year for us. We're getting to learn some things about some players. Hopefully the guys like Brown and Asche and those guys who were kind of incumbents, hopefully they feel like they're getting pushed. There's nothing wrong with that."

The Phillies have returned to their lackluster ways and regained their grip on last place in the NL East with a record of 53-81. 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 52-64-0 on this day.

No comments:

Post a Comment