Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Eickhoff’s Struggles Continue To Cost Phillies

GAME RECAP: Fish Fry Phils 5-3

Marcell Ozuna may have been knocked down in his collision with Giancarlo Stanton on Sunday, but the Marlins' center fielder definitely refuses to be taken out of the lineup. Ozuna and Justin Bour each homered on Monday, and Adam Conley allowed one run in six innings as Miami defeated the Phillies, 5-3, at Citizens Bank Park. Ozuna has hit safely in 16 games, matching a career high. Conley, who threw 94 pitches, struck out five, leading the Marlins to their third straight win. Miami is now four games over .500 (21-17) for the second time this year. They were 16-12 on May 6. "[Ozuna] gets us on the board early with the home run, and Justin gets us one," Marlins manager Don Mattingly said. "We get a sac fly. We kind of kept tacking runs on, but we had a chance to put a bunch up. Obviously, we had enough." Both teams had their chances, as the Marlins left 12 on base and were 2-for-10 with runners in scoring position. The Phillies stranded 10 and went 1-for-13 with runners in scoring position. The Phillies threatened to get back into it in the seventh inning, and pushed across an unearned run against reliever Kyle Barraclough. Odubel Herrera started the rally with a one-out single off the right shin of Barraclough, who went down but continued after tossing some warmup pitches. With the bases loaded, Carlos Ruiz's fielder's choice grounder to short made it 5-2.

  • Phillies outfielder Tyler Goeddel's second-inning single extended his hitting streak to four games. His fourth-inning liner drove in the Phillies' first run, and his sixth-inning double gave him the first three-hit game of his career. Goeddel finished the night 3-for-4, and over his last seven games -- of which he's recorded a hit in six of them -- the 23-year-old Rule 5 pick is 9-for-24. "The more playing time he gets, the better he looks," manager Pete Mackanin said. "Originally, he didn't really have hardly any good at-bats, but I decided to play him a bit more, because I knew he had to be a better hitter than he showed early."
  • It only took Tommy Joseph until his second Major League plate appearance to reach base for the first time. But that was a walk -- followed by a run scored -- against the Reds in his Major League debut on Friday. It took a little longer for him to record his first MLB hit. On an 0-1 count in the sixth inning of Monday's game, Joseph ripped a slider right up the middle into center field. His walk, however, came to more fruition than his hit, as Joseph was doubled up on a Freddy Galvis grounder the next play.
  • "[Franco] hit the ball a little too high. Obviously, he's dangerous. And you know Ryan [Howard] is on deck over there, and our guy is on his third day in a row. You know he's kind of out of gas. So you're kind of holding your breath in that inning, especially when the first couple of guys get on." -- Mattingly, on Franco's long sacrifice fly to the warning track with two on in the ninth and Miami closer A.J. Ramos being used the third straight day.
Vince Velasquez (4-1, 2.70) makes his second start against the Marlins in his last three outings on Tuesday at 7:05 p.m. ET. He allowed four runs in six innings last time against Miami and followed it up with six shutout innings against the Braves, before he fell apart in the seventh, giving up four runs without recording an out.


The First Of Many – When Tommy Joseph got to first base in the sixth inning of the Phillies' 5-3 loss to the Marlins on Monday night, he was greeted with a standing ovation from 28,348 faithful at Citizens Bank Park. It was seconds after he had ripped an 0-1 slider into center field for his first Major League hit. Phillies first-base coach Mickey Morandini assured the rookie first baseman that the applause were for him. "It was a moment I'll never forget," Joseph said. It was, however, short lived. The next batter, Freddy Galvis, grounded into a 6-4-3 double play and Joseph's hit was erased just like that. If there was an upside to quickly getting off the basepaths, it was that Joseph almost immediately was able to get his eyes on the first-hit ball. Postgame, he put it next to his keys. "So I don't forget it," he joked. Joseph struck out in his next at-bat, but it came against right-hander Kyle Barraclough, emphasis on the right-hander. The player whose roster spot Joseph claimed, Darin Ruf, almost certainly would have been pulled in lieu of Ryan Howardfor the more favorable lefty-righty matchup. Manager Pete Mackanin said postgame he didn't want to burn Howard that early in the game, but he also stressed Joseph isn't strictly a platoon player. "He's hit right-handers and left-handers in the Minor Leagues," Mackanin said. "So I didn't want to pre-judge what he was capable of doing. We've gotta find out about him." Through the first month-plus of the Triple-A season, Joseph was hitting .367 (11-for-30) vs. lefties and .338 (22-for-65) vs. righties, with three home runs against each.

Rupp Day To Day – For the first time this season, Cameron Rupp will sit two consecutive games. Rupp missed Sunday's game after injuring his left ankle in a collision at home plate in Saturday's 4-3 Phillies win. The plan was for the 27-year-old catcher to be re-evaluated before Monday's opener at home against the Marlins, but manager Pete Mackanin said Rupp is "day to day," but he doesn't expect him to be out for an extended period of time. "I'm definitely progressing," Rupp said, wearing compression tape on the injured ankle. "A little tender still, but the swelling's gone down." The Phils will move forward with Rupp and Carlos Ruiz as the only two catchers on the roster. In case of emergency, Mackanin said Andres Blanco would be the first man up, with Emmanuel Burriss also being an option behind the plate. Rupp had hits in five of his last six games before the collision at the plate. Overall, he's hitting .238, but he had the game-winning three-run double in the Phillies' win over the Braves last Thursday. Ruiz, in 24 fewer at-bats, is hitting .300 with three home runs -- two more than Rupp. Monday's game marks the first time Ruiz has started on consecutive days since Aug. 15-16, 2015. It also marks the first time this season he's caught any of the Phillies starters under the age of 25 other than Adam Morgan.

Can He Bounce Back? – After the Braves lit up Jerad Eickhoff for four runs in 4 1/3 innings last Wednesday, he headed into his next bullpen session with plenty to cover. Pitching coach Bob McClure made a tweak in Eickhoff's delivery during that session. The 26-year-old right-hander took the mound in Monday's 5-3 Phillies loss with added velocity on his fastball and a full repertoire of pitches. Although it came in a losing effort, Eickhoff bounced back with six innings of three-run ball, striking out four Marlins. "He looked much better," manager Pete Mackanin said. "I liked what I saw. The velocity was back. He threw some good sliders, used all his pitches. It was good to see." Eickhoff began his big league career by dazzling players and fans alike with his swooping curveball. In his first three starts of 2016, he posted a 1.89 ERA over 19 innings. But in his last three leading up to Monday's start, that number jumped to 6.75. It culminated in Atlanta last week, where Eickhoff relied on strictly his fastball and curveball. He didn't throw his changeup until the fifth inning and threw less than 10 pitches that weren't fastballs or curveballs all night. On the season, Eickhoff had only thrown sliders for seven percent of his pitches. In Monday's start, they accounted for 20.6 percent. He threw more sliders than curves. "Having that adjustment going from Atlanta, that slider is a big pitch for me," Eickhoff said. "If I can throw that in between my curveball and my fastball, that speed difference is going to be huge." Eickhoff only retired one of his four punchouts with the slider, but its effectiveness was apparent. The one batter he did ring up with it? Giancarlo Stanton. Not bad. For the other three, Eickhoff reverted back to the tried and true fastball-curve combo. But his heater had an added kick to it. Eickhoff was sitting in the low-to-mid 90s, topping out at 95. Christian Yelich whiffed on a 93-mph fastball to end the first. "There were a lot more pitches I executed," Eickhoff said. "I think it's a big step in the right direction."

Today In Phils History – 8 years and 1 day after being celebrated for his service during the Korean Conflict, Curt Simmons was released by the Phillies on this day in 1960. 3 years later, Don Nottebart no hit the Phillies (but they did avoid the shutout). In 1975, relief pitcher Gene Garber wins his third game in as many days to tie the major league record. 4 years later the Phillies and Cubs combined to hit 11 homreuns, collect 50 hits, and score 45 runs in a one run victory for the Phillies at Wrigley field. Mike Schmidt homered twice and starting pitcher Randy Lerch hit as many homers as batters he retired… one. In 1991, the two teams were at it again but this time they went 15 innings without scoring a single run. Dickie Thon hit the game winning single in the 16th to score Dale Murphy.

The Phillies are currently 22-17 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 49-46-0 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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