Saturday, April 30, 2016

Howard Wins It For The Phillies In The 11th

GAME RECAP: Phillies Stun Indians 4-3

If you blinked, you might have missed it. After 10 1/2 innings of play and nearly 3 1/2 hours, Ryan Howard ended Friday night's game at Citizens Bank Park on one pitch. The veteran first baseman lined a 3-2 pitch from Cody Allen over the right-field wall to give the Phillies a 4-3, 11-inning win over the Indians. "It felt good," Howard said. "I put the fat part of the bat on the ball, and the rest took care of itself." At only two points were the Indians and Phillies anything but tied. The two clubs matched zeros for the first four innings of play, before they each scored three runs in the fifth. But while Adam Morgan unraveled the third time through the Cleveland order and exited after allowing three runs, Corey Kluber bounced back from his three-run fifth to retire the final six Phillies he faced. Only two of the runs Kluber allowed in the fifth were earned. Both teams' bullpens put forth impressive efforts, combining to allow only one run, but the Phillies' outlasted the Indians'. Philadelphia's 'pen struck out 11 over six scoreless frames. The Indians' relievers matched their opponent's impressive efforts through their first three, but Howard put the winning run over the wall to lead off the 11th inning. "When you're on the road, you're always kind of playing with fire," Indians manager Terry Francona said. "Because they get to hit last." It was the Phillies' fourth straight win and seventh in their last eight games. At 13-10, they're three games above .500 for the first time since Sept. 21, 2012. "It's a lot of fun. This is the most excited I've seen these guys in two years with the team," Phillies manager Pete Mackanin said.

  • It looked as though the Phillies were going to get a run in 10th. Facing Jeff Manship, Philadelphia loaded the bases with one out. But Francona went to his closer, Allen, with the circumstances dire. Allen struck out Freddy Galvis to end the Phillies' rally before getting Maikel Franco to ground out to end the frame. "Cody came in and did such a good job to get out of that and give us another chance," Francona said. The next batter he faced -- Howard, the next inning -- ended the game, though. "He caught too much of the plate to Howard," Francona continued. "That's not the first time [Howard] has done that."
  • Morgan was cruising in his first Major League start of the season and had sat down nine straight when Kluber came up with two outs in the fifth. After Kluber's double and Davis' following RBI single, Jason Kipnis lifted a 1-2 Morgan offering over the right-field wall to make it a three-run inning. Morgan struck out the next batter, Francisco Lindor, his seventh strikeout on the last batter he faced. "It was a slider that wasn't low enough," Morgan said of the pitch Kipnis hit over the fence.
  • Phillies pitchers combined for 18 strikeouts on Friday night, setting a new season high. Eleven of those punchouts came from their bullpen, which threw six scoreless innings in relief of Morgan, who notched a career-best seven strikeouts. The Phillies now have 240 strikeouts on the season, the most in the Majors. 
  • When Davis drove Kluber home from second in the fifth inning, it snapped the Phillies' 26-inning scoreless streak. The last time Philadelphia had a streak that long was Sept. 13-16, 2009. The Phillies own two of the three longest scoreless streaks of the 2016 season: the aforementioned 26 innings and a 19-inning run from April 11-13. The Dodgers' 31-inning streak to begin the season leads baseball.
Jerad Eickhoff will start for the Phillies on Saturday in the second game of their Interleague series with Cleveland. Eickhoff has a 4.07 ERA through four starts this season, but his last start saw him give up seven runs in 5 1/3 innings against the Brewers. Eickhoff is hoping to look more like the pitcher he was in his first three games, during which he had a 1.89 ERA.


What Year Is This? – Ryan Howard hit a walk-off home run as the Phillies continued their winning ways on Friday night. It felt like the good old days at Citizens Bank Park. Howard, the longest-tenured member of a young Phillies roster, was reminiscent of his former MVP self in a 4-3, 11-inning win over the Indians, the Phillies' seventh victory in their last eight and their fourth straight overall. He went 3-for-5 with a double and a line-drive homer off Cleveland closer Cody Allen. "I think you savor it at any moment in your career, whether you're a rookie, whether you're a veteran, and those are always great situations to be in and come through for your team," Howard said. And this current team is playing better than any team Howard -- in his 13th Major League season -- has been on in the last few seasons. At 13-10, the Phillies are three games over the .500 mark for the first time since Sept. 21, 2012, when they were 77-74. Only Howard, Carlos Ruiz, Freddy Galvis and Darin Ruf remain from that roster. "I'm having a blast. The team itself is having a good time," Howard said. "… There's a different energy, and you could feel that at the end in Spring Training. And the way everything's been going, it's great." Friday's three-hit performance was also Howard's best showing so far in the 2016 season. In what was just his second multi-hit game of the year, Howard cranked his fifth home run and first double. He upped his average from .185 to .214, and that double was the first hit in what turned into a three-run fifth inning. "He hasn't been swinging the bat very well, and he got a couple hits earlier in the game," Phillies manager Pete Makanin said of Howard. "Any time you hit a walk-off home run, it's exciting for everybody, and I'd like to see Howard do it another 25 times -- not necessarily a walk-off." Ruiz, who is next behind Howard in terms of service time in Philadelphia, drove Howard in with a double in the fifth. Ruiz is now hitting .297 this season, and though the Phillies' season will be mostly about their younger talent, their veterans are showing they can still make a difference.

Morgan Bolsters K Total – Phillies manager Pete Mackanin said before Friday's game that Adam Morgan was not guaranteed a spot in the starting rotation moving forward. For the first 14 outs of his start, Morgan looked like a pitcher deserving of it in the Phillies' 4-3, 11-inning win. Morgan, a 26-year-old lefty, cruised through the first 4 2/3 innings of his first Major League start of the season, even retiring nine consecutive batters before Indians pitcher Corey Kluber stepped in to the batter's box with two outs in the fifth. What looked to likely be an innocent end to the inning turned into trouble. Kluber -- in just his 15th Major League at-bat -- hit a double down the left-field line and scored the game's first run when leadoff man Rajai Davis singled him home. Jason Kipnis followed that up with a home run, hitting a 1-2 slider from Morgan over the right-field fence to give Cleveland a 3-0 lead. Morgan's night ended on a sour note, but the pitcher was picked up. First by the Phillies offense, then by their bullpen. Philadelphia got Morgan off the hook with three runs in the bottom of the fifth and then a group of four relievers put together six scoreless innings, setting up Ryan Howard's walk-off home run in the 11th. "The energy is high and everyone is picking each other up, the way the bullpen did for me and those guys came out in the fifth inning and scored runs," said Morgan, who made 15 starts for the Phillies last season. Morgan was called up to replace Charlie Morton, the veteran sinkerballer who was recently lost for the season with a left hamstring injury. It looked like the southpaw did enough to earn himself another shot in the Phillies rotation, striking out a career-best seven batters over five innings. "I realized the mistakes that I made, and I can go forward from there," he said. Meanwhile, the Phillies' bullpen turned in another solid performance. Andrew Bailey, Elvis Araujo, Hector Neris and David Hernandez allowed just one hit and struck out 11 in six innings. Bailey and Hernandez each had four punchouts, while Neris had the other three. Phillies pitchers lead the Majors with 240 strikeouts on the season. The 18 strikeouts by the Phillies were the most they've had as a team since May 30, 2014, against the Mets, a game that went 14 innings. Morgan also helped the Phillies pitching staff run its scoreless streak to 26 innings, the franchise's longest since Sept. 13-16, 2009. While the streak was snapped in the fifth, the bullpen got another one underway in a hurry. "We were confident that the guys we had were capable pitchers, and we felt they were capable of doing what they're doing," Mackanin said. "To see them doing what we thought they were capable of doing is a good feeling. We have guys in the Minors that we're excited about, also, but these guys out here, are we leading the league in strikeouts? It's outstanding."

Today In Phils History – In addition to some unique names appearing on Phillies lineup cards on this day including Spud Davis (1928) and Delmon Young (2013) as well as some nice additions made to the team when they traded for Pinky Whitney in 1936 and acquired Andy Seminick and Jim Greengrass (for a package that included Smoky Burgess) in 1955, there have been some unique games in the history of the franchise on this day. The first of such games came in 1887 when the Phillies beat New York in the first game at what would later be known as the Baker Bowl. In 1919, the Phillies played Brooklyn to 9-9 tie in 20 innings after each team scored three runs in the 19th. In 1961 manager Gene Mauch, in an unusual move, used a team record 5 pinch hitters in the 8th inning to score 7 runs. The Phillies would go on to beat St. Louis in 10 innings. A year later, in 1962, the Phillies finally defeated Warren Spahn ending an 11 game losing streak against the Milwaukee ace that dated back to May of 1959.  

The Phillies are currently 13-10 this season putting them on pace to beat 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 41-49-3 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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