Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Phillies Look To Play Spoiler In Their Final Week

GAME RECAP: Phillies Stun Mets 4-3

For the Mets, the final week of the regular season is about resting some of their players, gleaning insights into others and -- atop the list -- doing their best to claim home-field advantage for the National League Division Series. But the Phillies prevented them from checking off all those boxes in a 4-3 win on Tuesday at Citizens Bank Park, where the Mets leaned on Bartolo Colon for just five innings before turning to Jon Niese for his second career relief appearance. The loss shaved the Mets' home-field advantage lead to one game over the Dodgers, who defeated the Giants on Tuesday night to win the NL West. The Mets hold the tiebreaker in that race. Watch the remaining games on MLB.TV. "We had our chances," Mets manager Terry Collins said. "It's just one of those things." Colon made just one significant mistake, allowing Darin Ruf's three-run homer in the first inning. But that plus an RBI single from Aaron Altherr in the seventh was all the Phillies needed; starter David Buchanan gave them 4 2/3 innings of one-run ball and manager Pete Mackanin pieced together another 13 outs from his bullpen. The only blemish for Buchanan was Lucas Duda's solo homer in the fourth. Duda added a two-run homer off Ken Giles in the ninth.

  • The first baseman blasted a 1-2 offering from Colon over the wall of the deepest part in Citizens Bank Park to give his team an early 3-0 lead. It was Ruf's 11th homer of the season and sixth in his last 21 games. Odubel Herrera and Altherr each hit a single in the inning and scored on Ruf's homer. "Ruf's three-run homer, I think, really gave us some confidence going into the game," Mackanin said. "It was nice to see him come through. He's been swinging the bat better against right-handers."
  • Phillies reliever Adam Loewen collected his first Major League win since April 21, 2007. The lefty only faced one batter, but he struck out the red-hot Duda to end the fifth inning. Loewen's last win came when he was pitching for the Orioles against the Blue Jays. Since his last win, Loewen -- who recorded a hit to start the home half of the fifth -- had a stint as an outfielder and appeared in 14 games with Toronto in 2011.
  • In a light moment, Mets catcher Travis d'Arnaud exchanged some friendly words with the Phillies' pinch-hitter in the bottom of the seventh, for good reason: The batter was Chase d'Arnaud, his brother and a recent callup. The two were appearing in the same big league game for the first time in their careers. With Travis calling the pitches, Chase struck out in his only plate appearance. "I still can't believe that happened," Travis d'Arnaud said. "I still vividly remember being 6 and 8 [years old], playing tape ball in the driveway and knowing that I could throw that back-door two-seam to him. Fortunately, Niese was able to execute a couple of those."
  • Andres Blanco was not available for Tuesday night's game against the Mets due to the birth of his child. Blanco's wife gave birth to a baby boy on Monday, and the infielder will return to the team Wednesday, Mackanin said.
  • Asher is coming off his best Major League start. The righty, who came to the Phillies in the Cole Hamels trade, went seven innings and allowed just one run on three hits with four strikeouts against the Marlins last Thursday. Asher lowered his ERA by more than two runs, down to 7.52, in the process.
  • Wednesday will mark the 17th Major League appearance and fourth start for Verrett. In his three starts, Verrett has allowed six runs on 12 hits in 18 innings while striking out 14 and walking three.
  • Lucas Duda is heating up at the right time for the Mets. The slugging first baseman homered twice Tuesday, and it was his third consecutive game with a home run. Duda has five homers and 15 RBIs in his last four games.

The Mets will look to move closer to clinching home-field advantage in the National League Division Series as they continue a three-game series in Philadelphia on Wednesday. New York holds a one-game lead in the standings over the Dodgers, who clinched the NL West on Tuesday. The Mets also hold the tiebreaker in that race. New York shuffled its rotation for the game, and the club will send Logan Verrett to the mound in place of Steven Matz, who has minor discomfort in his back. Alec Asher will get the ball for the Phillies, making the sixth and final start of his rookie campaign.


Returning For Final Series – Phillies third baseman Maikel Franco should return to the team this weekend "if all goes well," manager Pete Mackanin said Tuesday. Franco, who has not played since Aug. 11, when he got hit with a pitch and fractured his left wrist against the D-backs, appeared in his second rehab game at the Phillies' facility in Clearwater, Fla., on Tuesday, and he was slated to play again Wednesday. Mackanin noted that the 23-year-old rookie was feeling fine swinging the bat. Unless there are any complications, Mackanin anticipated Franco rejoining the team Thursday and being available for its final three-game series of the season this weekend against the Marlins. The Phillies and Mackanin view the opportunity for Franco to rejoin the club before season's end as a good way for him to tune up before he plays winter ball. Franco was hitting .277/.340/.490 with 13 homers and 48 RBIs in 77 games this season before the injury. "If he was feeling pain, we wouldn't have him swing the bat," Mackanin said. "There's obviously no pain, and I think it'd be good for him to finish up playing the last three games of the season, feeling good leaving here to go play winter ball and into next season." Mackanin added that he's been able to view video of Franco and said that he has been "swinging the bat with authority."

On Field Family Reunion – After having breakfast with their parents, the d'Arnaud brothers decided to split a cab as they headed to work. They are sharing an office together for a few days this week, after all. A few hours later they saw each other again, this time at home plate at Citizens Bank Park during the Phillies' 4-3 win against the Mets on Tuesday. For the first time in their careers, Chase d'Arnaud and Travis d'Arnaud played against each other in a Major League game. When Chase got called upon to pinch-hit for the Phillies in the seventh inning, Travis was behind the plate for the Mets. "I was smiling the whole time," Chase said. "It was special, it was cool. We've grown up next to each other our whole lives and there we were on a Major League Baseball field." Travis, the younger brother by two years, ultimately got the best of Chase in the matchup. Jon Niese struck out the elder d'Arnaud on five pitches -- and he had some advanced scouting on Chase, even if the information was a bit dated. "I still vividly remember being 6 and 8 [years old], playing tape ball in the driveway and knowing that I could throw that back-door two-seam to him," Travis said. "Fortunately, Niese was able to execute a couple of those on that front hip. In tape ball, that moved like five feet, so I had a little advantage against him. I pitched against him, so it was fun." The brothers were not in this position since they were both playing in the South Atlantic League in 2009, and they soaked in the moment with a short chat before Chase stepped in the box. Travis told Chase that if he reached base, he better try to steal. Chase jokingly asked if he could groove him a pitch. There was not quite that much brotherly love on a misty night in South Philadelphia, though. "In these circumstances where we're up by a couple runs, and they want to get home-field advantage playing the Dodgers," Chase said, "I wasn't expecting him to do me a favor." As for what Chase said after he struck out: "I'm going to keep that between me and him," Travis said with a laugh.

The Phillies have returned to their lackluster ways and regained their grip on last place in the NL East with a record of 59-97. 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 39-37-1 on this day.

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