Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Phillies Dominated By The Mets During Batting Practice

GAME RECAP: Mets Crush Phillies 11-1

First was Michael Conforto, then Yoenis Cespedes. Two innings passed, and Neil Walker and Lucas Duda joined in. Curtis Granderson wanted to get in on the fun, too. By the end of the Mets' 11-1 win over the Phillies on Tuesday night, five Mets had put balls over the outfield walls of Citizens Bank Park, including two from Walker. "This is a really talented group," Walker said of a Mets team that has homered 17 times over the first five games of a road trip. "To watch it firsthand … these are the kind of things this team is capable of." Two pitchers entered Tuesday night having yet to allow a run in a start, but only the Mets' Logan Verrett escaped with that still intact. Verrett tossed six scoreless innings and has now led the Mets to wins in both of his spot starts in place of Jacob deGrom, who is expected to make his next scheduled start. Verrett also reached base twice and scored on Cespedes' third-inning home run. "I didn't feel as sharp as I did in my last start, so I really had to work for it today," Verrett said. "Early on, I was trying to overthrow a bit with my fastball. … A little bit later in the game, we started throwing some sliders in there, and that was really able to help me find my arm slot." Phillies starter Vince Velasquez lasted just 4 1/3 innings in his follow-up performance to his 16-strikeout shutout against the Padres last week -- but only two of the Mets' six dingers came against him. Thanks to a Ryan Howard error that allowed Verrett to reach in the third, only two of the five runs Velasquez allowed were earned, raising his season ERA from 0.00 to 0.93. "We didn't pitch well. We didn't hit well. We didn't play well tonight," Phillies manager Pete Mackanin said. "We got beat pretty bad. The Mets seemed to want it. There's not a whole lot to say."

  • As if the five runs the Mets scored against Velasquez weren't enough, New York continued to pile on against the Phillies' bullpen once Velasquez was pulled in the fifth. Brett Oberholtzer and James Russell combined to pitch three innings, in which they gave up four home runs, amounting to six runs. Philadelphia entered Tuesday with the fourth-worst bullpen ERA in baseball (5.49). After the Mets massacre, their ERA is now 6.14.
  • Verrett hit a routine ground ball to Phillies shortstop Freddy Galvis in the third. Galvis threw to first, but Howard missed the catchable throw for an error. Velasquez retired the next two Mets, but Conforto singled and Cespedes homered on an 0-2 curveball. Velasquez regretted the pitch, wishing he had thrown a fastball. "Why I agreed to the pitch, I don't know why," Velasquez said. "Maybe it was just the heat of the moment and I just went with it. … Cespedes was just waiting on it the whole time. It's bad on my part. Bad pitching, bad execution. I take full responsibility for that."
  • "We're just not having fun. All through spring we were having so much fun, in the dugout, outside the dugout. We need to stop being timid. We have to be a little more upright, be fun, start enjoying ourselves. I think we'll be all right." -- Velasquez, on the Phillies' offensive struggles.
  • Tuesday marked the 15th straight game the Phillies weren't able to collect 10 hits, extending their franchise mark to begin a season. The last team to go this long into a season without a 10-hit game was the 1978 Mets. "Our hitters will come around, but we haven't been taking advantage of mistakes," Mackanin said. "I don't know what it is. I don't know if it's a lack of aggressiveness."
Phillies right-hander Jeremy Hellickson (1-1, 4.30 ERA) pitches the series finale against the Mets on Wednesday night at Citizens Bank Park. He allowed two earned runs in 11 2/3 innings in his first two starts before allowing five earned runs in three innings Friday against the Nationals.


He Is Human After All – Vince Velasquez's first two starts showed everybody just how dominant he can be. His third start Tuesday night showed everybody he is not quite a superhero. "We're all human," Velasquez said following the Phillies' 11-1 loss to the Mets at Citizens Bank Park. "We make mistakes." Velasquez allowed five hits, five runs (two earned), and two home runs and struck out four in just 4 1/3 innings. He appeared to grab his left side as he left the mound in the fifth, but he said he is fine. "I'm good," Velasquez said. "It was a little itch, yeah. Just throw your arm up or something. Frustration, you want to throw your glove down, you know?" He began his Phillies' career with 25 strikeouts in 15 scoreless innings, joining Curt Schilling (2002), Nolan Ryan (1978) and Karl Spooner (1954) as the only pitchers in baseball history to strike out 25 batters in their first two starts of a season. He also joined Roger Clemens, Kerry Wood and Max Scherzer as the only pitchers in baseball history to throw a shutout with 16 or more strikeouts, zero walks and three or fewer hits, which he accomplished Thursday against San Diego. Velasquez had been the talk of the town, but the Mets, facing him the second time in 10 days, jumped on him early. David Wright hit a one-out double to left field in the first inning, and Michael Conforto followed with a two-run home run to right to make it 2-0. An error from Phillies first baseman Ryan Howard in the third inning proved costly. Conforto hit a two-out single to put two on. Yoenis Cespedes followed with a two-out, three-run home run to left field to make it 5-0. Conforto and Cespedes both hit 0-2 curveballs. "There's nothing wrong with the pitch selection," Velasquez said. "It's just bad location." Velasquez hung both pitches. He said he wanted to bury them, though he acknowledged that he wished he had thrown Cespedes an 0-2 fastball up in the strike zone instead. "Why I agreed to the pitch, I don't know why," Velasquez said. "Maybe it was just the heat of the moment and I just went with it. … Cespedes was just waiting on it the whole time. It's bad on my part. Bad pitching, bad execution. I take full responsibility for that." Velasquez, who said he battled a stomach bug Monday, makes his next start next Tuesday against the Nationals in D.C. He said he has a few things to work on. Perhaps the Phillies' offense will be hitting by then. The Phillies have scored three or fewer runs in nine consecutive games, their longest stretch since a nine-game drought in May 2011. The Phillies also have not had 10 hits in a game in their first 15 games. It is the longest stretch like that to start a season since the 1978 Mets. "We're just not having fun," Velasquez said. "All through spring we were having so much fun, in the dugout, outside the dugout. We need to stop being timid. We have to be a little more upright, be fun, start enjoying ourselves. I think we'll be all right. It's early. It shouldn't be any added pressure."

Prospect Heads To DL – After getting off to a torrid start with Double-A Reading, Phillies catching prospect Jorge Alfaro is headed to the seven-day disabled list with a strained right oblique, the team announced Tuesday. The 22-year-old backstop was named Eastern League Player of the Week on Monday. Before he landed on the DL, Alfaro had begun the season 18-for-36 (.500). Of those 18 hits, six went for extra bases (four doubles, one triple and one home run). Alfaro missed much of last season after getting surgery on a tendon in his left ankle. He returned at the end of 2015 and got four Gulf Coast League at-bats in his first appearances in the Phillies' organization. Alfaro is ranked as the Phillies' No. 6 prospect and No. 94 overall by He was acquired from the Rangers' organization as part of the trade that sent Cole Hamels to Texas. Outfielder Cody Asche sustained a strained right oblique near the beginning of Spring Training, and after a setback, he still has yet to resume baseball activities. Darin Ruf was out for close to two months with a left oblique injury in 2014, Chase Utley missed exactly a month in '13 and Carlos Ruiz just less than a month in '12. "The one thing about obliques is you can't really rush them," Phillies general manager Matt Klentak said of Asche's injury last Wednesday.

Today In Phils History – One of the Phillies first stars debuted on this day in 1888 when Kid Gleason took the field. 60 years later, in a game known for a rather unique double play by Phillies catcher Andy Seminick, a star, Dick Sisler, and a legend, Richie Ashburn, put on the Phillies uniform for the first time. The following year, Willie "Puddinhead" Jones tied a major league record when he hit 4 consecutive doubles. Today is also know for the swapping of two unique bullpen arms when the Phillies traded away Al Holland to Pittsburgh for Kent Tekulve in 1985. However, with the exception of Ashburn’s debut, today is best known for the managerial milestones beginning in 1920 when manager Gavvy Cravath inserted himself as a pinch-hitter into a game against the New York Giants. His 3 run homerun scored the only runs of the game. The homerun also happened to be the 119th of his career which stood as the major league record until it was broken the following season by Babe Ruth. 86 years later, it was a Phillies loss that handed Washington Nationals manager Frank Robinson his 1,000th career victory.

The Phillies are currently 6-9 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 45-45-0 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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