Sunday, April 24, 2016

Franco Goes Deep And Morton Goes Down

GAME RECAP: Phillies Blast Brewers 10-6

Maikel Franco hit his third home run in two games and finished with four RBIs as the Phillies outlasted the Brewers, 10-6, on a long Saturday night at Miller Park. The teams combined to throw 387 pitches in a game that surpassed the four-hour mark and was closer than the final score indicated. Franco's three-run homer in the fourth gave the Phillies a 6-4 lead that grew to 7-4 by the eighth, when the Brewers scored twice to make it a one-run game. But the Phillies added insurance during a three-run ninth, highlighted by Odubel Herrera's two-run shot off Brewers closer Jeremy Jeffress, who hadn't allowed a run in his first seven appearances this season. Franco, who homered twice in Friday's series opener, went deep Saturday off Brewers starter Chase Anderson, who was hit hard for six earned runs on eight hits while throwing 99 pitches in four innings. Phillies reliever Brett Oberholtzer earned the win in relief after Phillies starter Charlie Morton exited with a hamstring injury. "We're not giving our team a chance to win," Anderson said. "We have to do better."

  • Franco followed Friday's two-homer effort with a three-run blast to left field in the fourth to give the Phillies a 6-4 lead. But Franco's best moment came in the bottom of the fifth. Ryan Braun hit a smash to Franco's left, and the third baseman caught the ball as he fell to the ground. Franco spun around and, while still sitting on the dirt, fired a strike to first baseman Ryan Howard for the out. Meanwhile, Herrera went 3-for-4 with one home run, two RBIs, two walks, four runs scored and two stolen bases. "It means a lot when those guys get going and they look like they're lighting up a little bit," Phillies manager Pete Mackanin said.
  • Morton threw 29 pitches in the first inning, then strained his left hamstring running to first base on a sacrifice bunt attempt in the second. He had to be helped off the field. Morton had been on a roll, allowing just one earned run in 12 2/3 innings in his previous two starts. It is unclear if he will make his next start. "There are varying degrees of severity with any injury," Morton said. "So you really just don't know. It doesn't do anybody any good to speculate really. Something happened. It's not good."
  • "He told me you throw better like that." -- Franco, on what Freddy Galvis said to him that made him laugh after he threw out Braun while sitting on his rump in the fifth.
  • Through four innings, the Phillies were on pace to throw 231 pitches, and the Brewers 222. has only six nine-inning games in its database in which both teams topped 200 pitches, and no nine-inning games in which both teams topped 220. In the end, the Brewers finished with 200 total pitches, and the Phillies 187.
  • Herrera went 3-for-4 with one home run, two RBIs, four runs scored and two walks. He is the first Phillies batter since at least 1900 with four runs, one home run and two stolen bases in a game.
Herrera enters the 2:10 p.m. ET Sunday series finale against the Brewers at Miller Park having reached base in 15 consecutive games. He is three games shy of tying his career high, which he reached during his rookie season in 2015. Right-hander Jerad Eickhoff gets the start.


Morton Goes Down, Morgan Called Up – The Phillies placed Charlie Morton on the 15-day disabled list Sunday because of a strained left hamstring. The Phillies recalled right-hander Luis Garcia from Triple-A Lehigh Valley to take Morton's spot on the 25-man roster. Garcia is expected to help the bullpen through this week's three-game series against the Nationals at Nationals Park, but Triple-A left-hander Adam Morgan is expected to take Morton's spot in the rotation Friday night against the Indians at Citizens Bank Park. Garcia allowed one hit in a scoreless inning of relief in Sunday's 8-5 loss to the Brewers. "He was certainly going to miss at least the next start, if not the next two," general manager Matt Klentak said about Morton. Morgan is 1-1 with a 3.57 ERA in three starts with Lehigh Valley. He lost the Spring Training battle to be the team's No. 5 starter to Vince Velasquez. Top prospects like Mark Appel (3-0, 1.62 ERA in three starts) have pitched well, but the Phillies want to give their younger prospects more time to develop in the Minor Leagues. "The whole Triple-A staff has been doing a really nice job," Klentak said. "We're fortunate that we do have -- whether Charlie is out for a couple of starts or longer -- we do have options within the organization. We're comfortable with that." Morton, who was injured running to first base on a sacrifice bunt attempt, will receive an MRI on his hamstring Monday. Morton, who has been on the disabled list in seven of the previous eight seasons, entered Saturday 1-1 with a 3.86 ERA in three starts, although he had allowed just one run in 12 2/3 innings in his last two outings. He allowed seven hits, six walks and struck out 13 batters in that two-start stretch against the Padres and Nationals. "Frustrated," Morton said about the injury.

The New Dynamic Duo – Maikel Franco and Odubel Herrera can make things fun again. Phillies manager Pete Mackanin has been hoping his two best hitters would start hitting together, and both had huge games Saturday night in a 10-6 victory over the Brewers at Miller Park. Franco hit a three-run homer to left field in the fourth inning and threw out Ryan Braun from his rump in the fifth. Meanwhile, Herrera went 3-for-4 with one home run, two RBIs, four runs scored and two walks. He is the first Phillies batter since at least 1900 with four runs, one homer and two stolen bases in a game. "It means a lot when those guys get going and they look like they're lighting up a little bit," Mackanin said. It also means the Phillies scored 10 runs in a game for the first time since Sept. 27, 2015, when they put 12 up against the Nationals. The Phillies are 9-9, the latest they have been .500 in a season since they were 15-15 on May 15, 2014. Franco knocked a pair of homers in Friday's 5-2 victory to give him three in two games. He is batting .299 with five home runs, 12 RBIs and an .890 OPS, which ranks fourth among National League third basemen and 18th overall among NL players. Herrera is hitting .283 with two homers, eight RBIs and an .875 OPS, which is ninth among NL outfielders and 20th overall. Herrera leads the big leagues with 17 walks. "I feel great," Herrera said through the Phillies' interpreter. "I'm seeing a lot of pitches. That's what I want to do. The more pitches that I see, the more pitches my teammates see. It's a collective effort. I feel very comfortable right now." Franco turned heads with an incredible defensive play in the fifth, when Braun smashed a ground ball to his left. Franco fielded the ball and spun as he hit the dirt. Sitting on the ground with his legs stretched in front of him, the third baseman fired a rocket to Ryan Howard at first for the out. "That was the first time I did that play," Franco said. Everybody was impressed. Well, not everybody. "I didn't see it," Phillies shortstop Freddy Galvis joked. Of course, Galvis did. In fact, he had Franco laughing hard immediately after the play. "He told me you throw better like that," Franco said. "That's what you look for when you go out there. Try to have fun and enjoy the game and win the game. The last two games, we've played good. That's what we're looking for every single day."

Road Work Ahead – Phillies manager Pete Mackanin stressed the importance of baserunning in Spring Training because he knew an extra base here and there could mean everything to a team expected to work for its runs. Perhaps they took a step forward in Saturday's 10-6 victory over the Brewers at Miller Park. Odubel Herrera stole a pair of bases and took a couple extra bases that led to two runs. The Phillies entered Saturday night's game against the Brewers at Miller Park having stolen just seven bases in 14 attempts. Their stolen base percentage (50 percent) tied four other teams for the lowest mark in the Majors. The Phillies have made six more outs on the bases, which includes failing to advance on a fly ball, failing to take an extra base on a hit, being doubled up on a line drive or failing to advance on a wild pitch or passed ball. The Phillies' combined 13 outs on the bases are behind only the Rangers (17), Pirates (17) and Rockies (14). "With the type of offense we have, I'm taking more chances than I normally would," Mackanin said. "We have to try to ignite the offense somehow and get things going." But it has not all been bad. The Phillies had been tied for seventh in the big leagues in extra bases taken percentage (45 percent), according to Baseball Reference. The statistic measures the percentage of times a runner advances more than one base on a single or more than two bases on a double, when possible. "A couple mistakes are outweighing some of the good we're doing," first-base coach Mickey Morandini said. "We've made a few mistakes, but I think we're coming out of the box good. I think we're hustling. We did have a couple of guys get to second base on dropped popups, which I liked. We're making plays close at first on some ground balls. We've gone first to third pretty good. Just a couple of those mistakes are outweighing some of the good we're doing." Morandini handles the team's baserunning. He is not happy with the team's basestealing. For example, Cesar Hernandez is just 1-for-5 in stolen base attempts. "There's no way Cesar should be 1-for-5 with his speed," Morandini said. Morandini and Mackanin believe the Phillies are running on the right pitchers. Specifically, they are running on pitchers with slower times to the plate. But they think their base stealers have been getting poor jumps. Hernandez got thrown out Friday because he started his move toward second base only when the ball nearly was out of the pitcher's hand. "That's just way too late," Morandini said. "It's a confidence thing. If you're going to be a base stealer, you've got to have the confidence to go and not care. You've got to have that attitude that he's not going to throw me out. Cesar, especially, he's sometimes afraid to make mistakes. We'll keep working on it. We'll get better at it."

Today In Phils History – Today is quite the day for offensive accomplishments from catcher Lave Cross hitting for the cycle during a 22-5 thrashing of Brooklyn in 1894 and Dick Bartell becoming the first player to hit four doubles in four consecutive at bats in 1933 to Chase Utley hitting a grand slam in his first Major League game in 2003 and Pat Burrell setting the April RBI record with 24 in 2008. Of course there is also the peak of the Ben Chapman controversy in 1947 as he missed the final game of the series against Jackie Robinson and the Brooklyn Dodgers. One of the players on that team was Schoolboy Rowe who made his Phillies debut four years prior (along with Babe Dahlgren) in 1943.

The Phillies are currently 9-9 this season putting them on pace to meet most preseason predictions. The Phillies finished the spring exceeding most expectations compiling a record of 15-11-3 (18-11-3 if you include the exhibition games against Reading and the University of Tampa). All time, the Phillies are 49-50-1 on this day. I expect the Phillies to finish in the bottom half of the division but not last in the NL East by finishing the season with a 77-85 record. Let the rebuild begin!

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