Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Phils Can’t Finish Off Nats In Extras

GAME RECAP: Nationals Outlast Phillies 8-7

The Nationals and Phillies found themselves in a slugfest on Monday night at Citizens Bank Park. When it was over, the Nationals won the game, 8-7, in 11 innings with Jonathan Papelbon picking up the victory in his return to Philadelphia. With one out in the 10th inning and Phillies right-hander Dalier Hinojosa on the mound in a 6-6 game, Jayson Werth swung at a 3-1 pitch and hit a homer, his second of the game, over the left-field wall to make it a one-run game. Papelbon then came on to try to save the game, but he ended up blowing his first save of the season. Freddy Galvis led off and hit a home run over the right-field fence to tie the score at 7. It was Papelbon's first blown save since Sept. 14, 2014 when he was with the Phillies. However, Papelbon ended up getting the last laugh. "I'm very familiar with that situation," Papelbon said about blowing the save. "But at the end of the day you play to win the game. Regardless of how it unfolds, you win the game, it's a good day at the office." With the score tied at 7 and right-hander Luis Garcia on the mound in the 11th, the Nationals had runners on first and third with no outs, when Yunel Escobar hit a chopper to second baseman Andres Blanco, who was unable to get Danny Espinosa at the plate. With the win, the Nationals kept pace with the National League East-leading Mets as they remain 9 1/2 games out of first place. Papelbon ended up getting his fourth win of the season, while Doug Fister picked up his first save of the season. The last time Fister pitched was Sept. 1. The Nationals were saving him just in case Stephen Strasburg wasn't able to pitch because of back tightness. "It's always great to pitch," Fister said. "I think the first and foremost thing was the guys that played tonight. They fought. I could see that from the bullpen. It's not just the home runs by the guys, it manufacturing the runs, especially that last inning.. The guys plays hard. The guys continue to fight and play this game. It's nice to get in there and pitch. No matter how your name is called, three outs are three outs. No matter what the score is." Nationals right-hander Jordan Zimmermann lasted six innings, allowing six runs on seven hits and two home runs. Zimmermann was given a 6-2 lead after five innings, but gave it right back when he allowed a three-run homer to Cody Asche to tie the score at 6.

  • The Phillies right-hander remains a heavy favorite to make the 2016 rotation, but he has room to improve. He allowed six runs and three home runs in four innings against the Nationals. Nola is 6-3 with a 4.11 ERA this season, but he has a 6.75 ERA (12 earned runs in 16 innings) in his last three starts. He should get at least one more start this season. He has pitched 175 innings, and the Phillies want him to finish around 180-185.
  • Asche hit a walkoff homer Saturday night against the Cubs. He then hit his game-tying, three-run homer in the sixth. Saturday's homer left his bat at 107.9 mph, the hardest ball he hit this season as tracked by Statcast™. Tuesday's homer was tracked at 105 mph, which was among the 11 balls he had hit 105-mph or harder this season. "Confidence for sure," Asche said about his recent success. "For a hitter, I think confidence is the No. 1 key."
  • Phillies first baseman Ryan Howard hit a solo homer to right field in the second inning to tie the game, 1-1. He left the game in the eighth inning because of a bruised left knee. Howard took a throw off his knee in the seventh inning. He was seen leaving the ballpark on crutches. Teammate Aaron Altherr left the game in the 11th with a bruised right forearm. He got hit by a pitch from Papelbon in the 10th.
  • "I'm sure he's frustrated where they're at. He got traded from here and we've had more save opportunities here for Kenny [Giles] now, you know? Like I said, I'm sure he's frustrated that he got traded over there and they're not going to probably go to the playoffs. So he's upset. But I mean, the city gave him a great contract and gave him a lot of money. That's his business what he wants to say, but I think you ask any guy in here with his organization they know how to win. It's just a tough time right now." - Phillies outfielder Jeff Francoeur, who disagreed with Papelbon's pregame comments about the team not having players that want to win.
  • Phillies second baseman Cesar Hernandez is scheduled to have surgery to repair an injured ligament in his left thumb Wednesday.
  • Ryan Howard has the most experience against Strasburg on the Phillies. He is 5-for-25 (.200) with a double, two RBIs and 10 strikeouts.
  • Anthony Rendon hit a leadoff homer Monday night against the Phillies. He has hit safely in 22 of his last 25 games.

Nationals right-hander Stephen Strasburg has been pretty good since he rejoined the rotation last month. He hopes his good fortunes continue Tuesday night against the Phillies at Citizens Bank Park. Strasburg is 3-2 with a 2.89 ERA in six starts since returning from a trip to the disabled list because of a strained left oblique. Strasburg faces Phillies right-hander David Buchanan, who has a 22.00 ERA (22 earned runs in nine innings) in his last three starts. The Phillies are sticking with Buchanan in their six-man rotation because they hope he can get things right entering the offseason.


Ironically, Papelbon Gets A Dose Of BS – Jonathan Papelbon heard some boos as he left the bullpen Monday night at Citizens Bank Park. No surprise there. He heard boos from Phillies fans before, but previously he heard them while he wore the home team's uniform. Papelbon faced the Phillies for the first time since they traded him to the Nationals in July. He allowed a game-tying home run to Freddy Galvis in the 10th inning to blow his first save in exactly a year, when he infamously made a lewd gesture in front of Phillies fans to earn a seven-game suspension. But Washington scored a run in the 11th inning to win, 8-7. Papelbon blew the save, but he got the win. "I've done that plenty of times in my career," Papelbon said. "I'm very familiar with that situation. But at the end of the day you play to win the game. Regardless of how it unfolds, you win the game it's a good day at the office." But the Phillies acknowledged it felt sweet the moment Galvis laced a 1-1 splitter over the right-field wall to tie the game. "Absolutely," Phillies outfielder Jeff Francoeur said. "For sure," third baseman Cody Asche said. "One hundred percent." Especially after some pointed comments Papelbon made about the Phillies before the game. He told reporters that "I was far [from] the bad guy on this [Phillies] team. I was one of the few that wanted to actually win and I was one of the few that competed and posted up every day." Francouer is one of the only veterans on the team. And even though he has played for the Phillies for just one season, he defended his teammates. "I haven't heard exactly what he said to make enough of a comment, except that I completely disagree with that," he said. "If you're in here, you see guys working. To say guys don't post or know how to win around here, I mean, I came here as a visiting player for a lot of years and they beat us just fine. That wasn't the right statement." Papelbon is prone to saying controversial things, whether or not they are based in reality. "I'm sure he's frustrated where they're at," Francoeur said. "He got traded from here and we've had more save opportunities here for Kenny [Giles] now, you know? Like I said, I'm sure he's frustrated that he got traded over there and they're not going to probably go to the playoffs. So he's upset. But I mean, the city gave him a great contract and gave him a lot of money. That's his business what he wants to say, but I think you ask any guy in here with this organization they know how to win. It's just a tough time right now." Papelbon in the 10th hit Aaron Altherr with a pitch with one out and Darin Ruf reached on an error to put runners on first and second. Francoeur crushed a ball foul to left in the following at-bat. He eventually hit a ball to right with Bryce Harper making a nice catch in the corner for the second out. "I wanted to win that one quite bad," Francoeur said.

Done For The Year – Phillies second baseman Cesar Hernandez's season is finished. The Phillies placed him on the 60-day disabled list Monday after he dislocated his left thumb on a collision at first base in the seventh inning of Sunday's 7-4 victory over the Cubs at Citizens Bank Park. He is scheduled to have surgery Wednesday to repair ligament damage in the thumb. Recovery for this type of surgery is typically three months. "The prognosis is that he's going to be fine for next year," Phillies interim manager Pete Mackanin said. The Phillies selected the contract of infielder Chase d'Arnaud to give the Phillies additional infield depth. Hernandez hit .272 (110-for-405) with 20 doubles, four triples, one home run, 35 RBIs, 19 stolen bases and a .687 OPS in 127 games. His OPS ranks 17th out of 21 qualified second basemen in baseball. He showed some potential this season and he is expected to be the team's Opening Day second baseman in 2016. Darnell Sweeney and Andres Blanco are expected to see the majority of playing time at second with Hernandez out. "I've seen enough that I'd feel comfortable with him at second base," Mackanin said about Hernandez. "It doesn't mean that anything else could come up, trades, anything like that could happen. But I like him. He offers a lot. He can steal a base. This is his first year getting this many at-bats at this level, so I think he's learned from it. He's learned from some of the mistakes that he made. We all do. I like what I see."

Howard Up For An Award? – First baseman Ryan Howard is the Phillies' nominee for the 2015 Roberto Clemente Award presented by Chevrolet. The award recognizes players who "best represents the game of baseball through positive contributions on and off the field, including sportsmanship and community involvement." "It's truly an honor to be in this category with Mr. Roberto Clemente and everything that he's done not only for the sport of baseball, but in the community," Howard said in a statement. "For me it's always been about giving back, and helping children to have an opportunity to succeed in life." Howard's community work includes The Ryan Howard Big Piece Foundation. The foundation promotes academic and athletic development. "I want children to believe in themselves," Howard said. "I want to help them dream big. Kids need to realize and believe that they can grow up to become whoever they want to be. It's about becoming the best version of yourself and sometimes all you need is just that one break or that one opportunity to make dreams become a reality. I want to help provide those opportunities for kids." Howard's community initiatives include The Ryan Howard Reading Challenge, which has become the Foundation's signature program. It is a K-3 literacy-based program that engages students to read at least 20 minutes a day, seven days a week. The foundation also has awarded local Vare-Washington Elementary School with a $75,000 academic grant that provided a much-needed library for students. The development of inner-city youth baseball is also a passionate cause of Howard, who has committed to being involved with the new Phillies MLB Urban Youth Academy. Beginning on Roberto Clemente Day, fans are encouraged to participate in the process of selecting the winner of the Roberto Clemente Award presented by Chevrolet by visiting ChevyBaseball.com, which is powered by MLB Advanced Media, to vote for one of the 30 club nominees. Voting ends on Friday, Oct. 9; participating fans will be automatically registered for a chance to win a trip to the 2015 World Series, where the winner of the Roberto Clemente Award presented by Chevrolet will be announced. Clubs playing at home on Wednesday will recognize their nominee as part of Roberto Clemente Day ceremonies, while visiting clubs will honor their nominee before another September home game. As part of the league-wide celebration, the Roberto Clemente Day logo will appear on the bases and official dugout lineup cards, and a tribute video will be played in ballparks. The concept of honoring players for their philanthropic work came about in 1971 as the Commissioner's Award, which was renamed the Roberto Clemente Award in 1973 in honor of the Hall of Famer and 15-time All-Star, who died in a plane crash on New Year's Eve 1972 while attempting to deliver supplies to earthquake victims in Nicaragua. Each September since 2002, Major League Baseball has commemorated Roberto Clemente Day.

The Phillies have returned to their lackluster ways and regained their grip on last place in the NL East with a record of 56-89. 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 50-54-2 on this day.

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