- Altherr busted out of a slump in a major way, hitting an inside-the-park grand slam in the third, a solo homer in the fifth and a double in the seventh. Altherr entered the night hitting .171 (7-for-41) with a .658 OPS in his last 12 games after hitting .262 (16-for-61) with an .837 OPS in his first 18 games. "My heart stopped a little bit," Altherr said of the inside-the-park grand slam -- which got past a diving Michael Taylor in center field and rolled just short of the warning track, allowing Altherr to score with no throw to the plate. "Then I saw it go by and I was like, 'Oh, man, I might have a chance here.' I just tried to run as fast as I could. I saw Rock [third-base coach John Mizerock] still sending me home when I was about halfway to third, so I was like, 'I might have a chance here.' I tried to get there as fast as I could."
- Eickhoff tried to match Altherr with a strong performance on the mound. He allowed five hits, two runs, one walk and struck out 10 in seven innings to improve to 2-3 with a 3.07 ERA in seven starts. His 10 strikeouts were the most by a Phillies rookie since Aug. 5, 2009, when J.A. Happ struck out 10 Rockies at Citizens Bank Park. National League MVP frontrunner Bryce Harper had three of those strikeouts. "He's a great hitter," Eickhoff said about Harper. "I was fortunate enough to get some pitches in the right location."
- All of Washington's scoring on Friday night came off the bat of Jayson Werth. It wasn't enough to slow down the Phillies, but it was the continuation of a resurgent several weeks by the 36-year-old outfielder. After his first-inning, two-out RBI single and his sixth-inning solo home run, Werth has recorded 10 home runs and 30 RBIs since the start of August.
- "Not that I remember. I'm sure I have over 47 years, but I can't remember. I hit into a triple play once." -- Mackanin, showing some comic timing when asked if he had ever seen an inside-the park grand slam before.
- Altherr's inside-the-park grand slam was the Phillies' first since Aug. 8, 1956, when Ted Kazanski hit one against the New York Giants at Polo Grounds. It was the first inside-the-park grand slam in MLB since Oct. 3, 1999, when Tampa Bay's Randy Winn hit one at home against the Yankees. Altherr also became the first player to have an inside-the-park grand slam in a multi-homer game since 1987, according to Elias Sports Bureau.
- Phillies third baseman Maikel Franco has been on the DL since Aug. 12 because of a broken left wrist, but he could be be back next week. He played three innings in an intrasquad game Friday in Clearwater, Fla, going 0-for-2 with a walk. He will play four innings Saturday and will play Monday in a Florida instructional league game. The Phillies will evaluate Franco's status at that point. Franco's wrist reportedly felt "perfect."
Saturday, September 26, 2015
Phillies Rookie Makes A Grand Statement
GAME RECAP: Phillies Beat Nationals 8-2
Phillies left fielder Aaron Altherr soured what was likely Jordan Zimmermann's final home start with the Nationals, knocking a pair of home runs off the right-hander, including baseball's first inside-the-park grand slam of the 21st century in an 8-2 win at Nationals Park on Friday night. Darin Ruf and Cody Asche also went deep as the Phillies clubbed a season-high-tying four home runs. Washington (78-75) fell 8 1/2 games back of the Mets in the National League East and dropped their elimination number to one. New York (87-67) beat Cincinnati, 12-5, on Friday night. When manager Matt Williams was asked how he felt about the looming elimination, his answer expressed the urgency of the situation. "Like we need to win tomorrow," he said. Meanwhile, Phillies rookie Jerad Eickhoff was impressive in his seventh Major League start, limiting the Nationals to two runs and five hits in his seven innings of work. He struck out 10. "I'm going to enjoy it," Phillies manager Pete Mackanin said about his team's sixth win in its last 22 games. "They've been too few and far between. It was fun to see those guys go off."
OTHER NOTES FROM THE DAY:
Phillies rookie right-hander Aaron Nola (6-2, 3.84) faces the Nationals in the second game of the three-game series Saturday afternoon at 4:05 p.m ET. The Phillies have been monitoring Nola's workload closely, but he said he feels great so they are going to give him at least one more start before the end of the season. Stephen Strasburg (10-7, 3.81) will look to build on his phenomenal second half for the middle game against the Phillies on Saturday. He's 5-2 with a 2.24 ERA in eight starts since the All-Star break.
Altherr’s Big Night – Just a couple of weeks ago, Xander Bogaerts brought us the wonders of the Little League grand slam, and the world rejoiced at the shenanigans gifted upon us. But the Phillies' Aaron Altherr was far from satisfied -- while he no doubt appreciates the Benny Hill theme as much as the next ballplayer, he couldn't help but long for the olden days of the pure inside-the-park home run. "What if we married the tension of a bases loaded situation with the thrill of a guy rounding the bases as fast as possible?" Altherr thought to himself, we're assuming. So, during Friday's Phillies-Nationals game, he set out to make that dream a reality. And when he looped a line drive that got past a diving Michael Taylor, he had his chance. Cue the merry-go-round! OK, so maybe not the most suspenseful play at the plate, but hey -- this was his first try, it's a work in progress. No doubt exhausted from all that sprinting, Altherr figured he'd take a more leisurely route to home plate in his next AB. What, Aaron, no inside-the-park cycle?
2016 Should Be Interesting – Phillies outfielder Aaron Altherr had never done that before. Of course, who had? Altherr hit an inside-the-park grand slam in the third inning of Friday night's 8-2 victory over the Nationals at Nationals Park. It was the Phillies' first inside-the-park grand slam since Aug. 8, 1956, when Ted Kazanski hit one against the New York Giants at Polo Grounds, according to Elias Sports Bureau. It was the first inside-the-park grand slam in MLB since Oct. 3, 1999, when Tampa Bay's Randy Winn hit one at home against the Yankees. Altherr also hit a solo home run to left field in the fifth, a double to right-center field in the seventh and a single to right in the ninth for the first four-hit game of his career. He had 11 total bases on the night. The Nationals had 11. "I don't know. It was a good day, I guess," Altherr said with a smile. "It was a lot of fun." Altherr became the first player to hit an inside-the-park grand slam in a multi-homer game since 1987. He ripped a line drive to Nationals center fielder Michael Taylor, who dove for the ball. But Taylor missed and the ball flew behind him toward the center field wall. "My heart stopped a little bit," Altherr said. "Then I saw it go by and I was like, 'Oh, man, I might have a chance here.' I just tried to run as fast as I could. I saw Rock (third base coach John Mizerock) still sending me home when I was about halfway to third, so I was like, 'I might have a chance here.' I tried to get there as fast as I could." "Sometimes it's a tough call right there," Taylor said. "Right there, I felt like I had a good bead on the ball. I thought I had a chance on it. I know in that situation you better catch the ball, and I wouldn't have gone for it if I didn't think I could. It's still a bad play once I miss it, so, it's a tough play." Altherr has good speed, so he scored without even a throw to the plate. It was the Phillies' first inside-the-park home run (any variety) since July 31, 2012, when Jimmy Rollins hit one against the Nationals in DC. Darin Ruf and Cody Asche also homered for the Phillies, who tied a season high with four homers in the win. "I had an inside-the-park homer in rookie ball or something, but it doesn't really matter," Altherr said. "Rookie ball doesn't count." Altherr entered the night hitting .171 (7-for-41) with a .658 OPS in his last 12 games after hitting .262 (16-for-61) with an .837 OPS in his first 18. He is back to .252 (27-for-107) with nine doubles, three triples, five home runs, 16 RBIs and an .866 OPS in 31 games. "I've felt pretty good the past couple days," Altherr said. "Hopefully I can keep riding that feeling the rest of the year." No matter what happens in the Phillies' final eight games, Altherr has made a strong case for more playing time in 2016. Friday night's effort drove home that point.
Lee About To Fall Off The Cliff – The Phillies will scatter across the Americas following their final game of the season Oct. 4. Cliff Lee scattered long ago. He has been home in Arkansas since March, when the Phillies announced his second attempt to rehabilitate a torn common flexor tendon in his left elbow did not work out. Lee said he planned to rehab the injury a third time, acknowledging he needed a miracle to pitch again. He never did. Lee's time with the Phillies unofficially ended in March. It officially ends no more than five days following the World Series. It is then the Phillies must inform Lee, who made $25 million this season, if they plan to exercise his $27.5 million club option for 2016. They will not. But they will pay him a $12.5 million buyout, which is due Nov. 30. "He was all about winning," said Phillies interim general manager Scott Proefrock, who helped bring back Lee to Philadelphia in Dec. 2010. "He helped us make the World Series in '09 and the postseason in '11. He pitched very well in '12 and '13. It just didn't work out. I'm sure he would have preferred things would have worked out differently because he is a great competitor." Lee, 37, went 41-30 with a 2.89 ERA in 106 starts from 2011-14. His ERA ranked fourth out of 90 qualified pitchers in that span. His 1.08 WHIP ranked fourth. His 6.48 strikeout-to-walk ratio easily ranked first. Clayton Kershaw's 4.74 placed second. But then Lee got hurt in 2014. He went on the DL in May and returned to make three starts in July before getting hurt again. "It was a situation last year where we were looking to trade him and obviously his injury short circuited that," Proefrock said. "The one thing about Cliff is, we met with him at the end of the 2013 season and he said the only thing he wanted to do is win. This was going to be his last contract. He wanted to win and he wanted to talk about what we were going to do. And in '14 we tried. Then he got hurt. We had to make an adjustment." Lee quietly visited Philadelphia a handful of times this season, essentially to meet with doctors to discuss his rehab. But his rehab never really went anywhere. Doctors recommended surgery, but Lee declined because he seemed uninterested in pitching past this contract anyway. "It was still worth pursuing because it was the only thing left to do," Proefrock said of Lee's rehab. The Phillies will recoup some of the $25 million they paid him this season because they insured his contract. How much is unclear. Regardless, Lee returned to Philadelphia in December 2010, with great fanfare. He said he hoped to win multiple World Series with the Phillies. It turns out the Phillies only made the postseason once while he was here.
The Phillies have returned to their lackluster ways and regained their grip on last place in the NL East with a record of 58-96. 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 49-51-0 on this day.