Saturday, May 7, 2016

LONG Homeruns Bury Phillies

GAME RECAP: Fish Fluster Phils 6-4

Giancarlo Stanton picked an appropriate time to connect on the longest home run tracked by Statcast™ this season. The three-time All-Star blistered a two-run homer in the eighth inning on Friday night that launched the Marlins to a 6-4 win over the Phillies at Marlins Park. The blast was projected to travel 475 feet with an exit velocity of 113 mph. It ran Miami's win streak to four, as the club has won 11 of 12. "They hit them. They don't get cheap shots, do they?" Phillies manager Pete Mackanin said. The Marlins struck quickly off Vince Velasquez, scoring twice in each of the first two innings. Christian Yelich tagged him for a two-run homer in the first, and J.T. Realmuto and Martin Prado each had two-out RBI singles, putting Miami ahead 4-0. But the Phillies stormed back against Wei-Yin Chen, who allowed the leadoff batter to reach in each of his five innings. "The momentum switched pretty quickly," Stanton said. "You feel like you're in total control, and then they come back. Usually, that's when the other team keeps it going and wins. So, it was good to put a hold on that and come up big like that." Philadelphia hammered out 11 hits off Chen, tying it at 4 on Maikel Franco's opposite-field homer to open the fifth. "They were pitching me away and I hit the ball [that way]," Franco said. "That's what I'm going to try to continue to do and see what happens."

  • Batting in the No. 8 spot, Velasquez beat out an infield single with two outs in the fourth inning. It allowed Peter Bourjos to bat with runners at first and second. Bourjos promptly lined a double down the left-field line, scoring both Freddy Galvis, who had opened the frame with a single, and Velasquez to cut the Marlins' lead to 4-3. "I had to help myself out, get on base and get another run on my end and help the team out," Velasquez said. "It's a team thing here. It's a tough loss, but we'll get them tomorrow."
  • In the sixth, third baseman Franco went to his right to backhand a line drive off the bat of Chris Johnson, turning it into an inning-ending double play with a quick throw to second. It was just an inning earlier that Franco hit the first pitch for a home run to tie the game at 4. "Every single day I try to put a lot of focus on [my defense]," Franco said. "I try to be ready every single pitch to help my team on offense and defense."
Jeremy Hellickson gets the start for the Phillies at 7:10 p.m. ET on Saturday. Hellickson looks to rebound from his last outing, when he gave up six runs on seven hits, including three homers, over 5 1/3 innings in St. Louis.


Location, Location, Location! – Phillies starter Vince Velasquez struggled in the first two innings, digging himself into an early hole that cost him. Though the Phillies fought back to tie it, the Marlins prevailed, 6-4, on Giancarlo Stanton's titanic two-run homer in the eighth inning. Velasquez, a 23-year-old right-hander, went six innings for the no-decision, giving up four runs on seven hits, including an upper-deck homer to Christian Yelich. He struck out five batters and walked one. Of his 90 pitches, 64 were strikes. Velasquez bounced back after the shaky start to retire 10 consecutive batters, allowing just one hit over his final three innings of work. "Velasquez was a different pitcher after the second inning," manager Pete Mackanin said. "He looked like who he really is. They were all over his fastball [early]. He didn't locate it, and they're a good fastball-hitting team. They've been winning. They've been swinging the bats extremely well." How did he manage to turn things around so quickly? "Keep my composure and not let things get out of hand anymore than they did," Velasquez said. "And then kind of let things go. Things happen. It was a rough start. You can't get behind in the count and then miss locations. Shutting down [the next] 10 guys was something that led me to get the guys back in the dugout and get something going." Velasquez said that he takes full responsibility for the early struggles and had to go back into the clubhouse after the second inning to regroup. "Missed locations. All that falls on my end," Velasquez said. "So you have to figure something out, and you have to change. Do whatever you have to do to prevent that." Velasquez was not himself in the first two innings. "That pitch to Yelich was horrible," Velasquez said. "It was literally on the opposite side of where I was trying to go. Just yanked it, and he hit it out."

Change Is Good – Searching for ways to get his team out of its doldrums offensively, manager Pete Mackanin shook up Friday's lineup with everything from hitting Freddy Galvis fifth for the first time in his career to batting pitcher Vince Velasquez eighth rather than in the traditional ninth spot. It worked, to a degree. The Phillies outhit the Marlins, 12-10, but they still came up short in a 6-4 loss at Marlins Park. "We're last in the league in hitting, [so] I've got to try to do something," Mackanin said. "Freddy's driven in some big runs, and Cesar [Hernandez] likes to hit second, so I went back to that. I just think Freddy might be better off in an RBI spot." Galvis delivered two hits and scored a run to extend his hitting streak at Marlins Park to nine games. He was one of four Phillies with multiple hits. Maikel Franco doubled and homered, driving in two runs. His solo blast on the first pitch of the fifth inning brought the Phillies all the way back from a 4-0 deficit to a 4-4 tie. But Marlins slugger Giancarlo Stanton provided the game-winner in the eighth inning -- a 475-foot two-run blast, the longest home run of the 2016 season. Leadoff hitter Odubel Herrera collected three hits, all singles, to run his season hit total to 34, which leads all National League center fielders. Peter Bourjos, playing right field and hitting ninth, went 2-for-2 with two walks, two RBIs and a run. Velasquez even got in on the act with a fourth-inning single that Bourjos followed with his two-run double. Despite the outburst, the Phillies still left eight runners on base. "I believe we're going to get better as the season goes on," Mackanin said.

Early League Leader – Cameron Rupp is the hardest hitter in the Major Leagues. That's according to Statcast™, which revealed that the Phillies' catcher had the highest average exit velocity (97.5 mph) on batted balls in play among all big leaguers this season, entering Friday's 6-4 loss to the Marlins. For reference, Marlins slugger Giancarlo Stanton led the Majors with a 98.5 mph average in 2015. Stanton also launched one off his bat at 120.1 mph against Washington's Joe Ross for a single in a game on April 10 this season. Phillies manager Pete Mackanin said he isn't a bit surprised: "He hits the ball hard." Despite Stanton's prowess, velocity doesn't always translate into long balls. Rupp hit just one homer in his first 64 at-bats this season. Mackanin explained why. "Exit speed off the bat just means you can hit the ball hard," Mackanin said. "Trajectory off the bat is more important [in hitting homers]." Either way, Rupp has been making solid contact. "That's pretty cool, I guess," Rupp said of the stat. "I wish it gave me more hits. I'm just trying to make good contact. It seems like I've been pretty consistent with it." Rupp's approach is simple: See ball, hit ball. "I'm just looking for a pitch I can drive, something I can handle in the zone, and when it's there, I don't miss it," Rupp said. "It's just one of those things where if it's a pitch I can handle and I recognize it, I just let it go, and it finds the barrel." Rupp said he's seeing the ball well right now. "When I'm making contact, it seems like good, solid contact," Rupp said. Rupp doesn't concern himself with having just one homer. Besides, Rupp slugged eight long balls in his final 38 games of last season, his first full year in the big leagues, after hitting just one dinger through the first 65 games of his Major League career. Seven doubles in his first 17 games is perhaps a more telling stat than his current home run production. "I'm hitting the ball well," Rupp said. "Home runs will come when they come. I'm just going up there trying to drive the ball in the gap [and] drive some runs in when I have the opportunity."

Minor Awards – The Phillies have some of the most highly regarded prospects at shortstop, catcher, outfield and on the mound. Two of their top second base prospects had a heck of an April. The Phillies announced on Friday that Class A Lakewood second baseman Josh Tobias, Double-A Reading right-hander Ben Lively and Class A Clearwater second baseman Scott Kingery were named the organization's Minor League hitter, pitcher and defender of the month, respectively. Tobias, 23, batted .347 with eight doubles, one triple, two home runs, 19 RBIs, 12 walks and a 1.022 OPS in 20 games. Lively, 24, went 3-0 with a 1.55 ERA (five earned runs in 29 innings), 30 strikeouts, 0.90 WHIP and a .189 opponents' batting average. Kingery, 22, played 180 innings without an error and helped turn nine double plays. Kingery, rated the organization's 11th-best prospect by, and Tobias are worth watching as Phillies second baseman Cesar Hernandez has posted a .661 OPS in 809 career plate appearances through Friday, including a .639 mark in 101 plate appearances this season. The Phillies selected Kingery in the second round of the 2015 Draft. They took Tobias in the 10th round. Kingery has started to hit the ball much better after struggling with Lakewood last season, when he had a .652 OPS in 282 plate appearances. He is hitting .269 with eight doubles, one triple, two home runs, four RBIs, nine stolen bases, 12 walks, 14 strikeouts and a .779 OPS in 118 plate appearances. He has not been caught stealing. "Scott Kingery is hitting about as hard a .270 as you can hit," player development director Joe Jordan said. "He really, really has been swinging the bat well. He's a really good looking player. I just watched that club and I was really impressed. He can do a lot of things on the baseball field. But from a defensive standpoint, he's got tremendous feet. He's got really good hands and an above-average arm for a second baseman." Tobias hit safely in 15 of 20 games, and he has batted .611 (11-for-18) with six extra-base hits against left-handers. "Josh has done nothing but hit," Jordan said. "Sitting in the Draft room last year and listening to the scouts discuss him, this is a guy we targeted, and I think they just kind of waited until the right time to take him. [Director of amateur scouting] Johnny [Almaraz] and his guys played the draft perfectly. Josh can hit. He's a legitimate offensive prospect. His bat is ready for probably a bigger challenge than we have in front of him right now." Tobias has committed six errors in 196 innings. "He's making progress defensively," Jordan said. The Phillies acquired Lively from the Reds in December 2014 for Marlon Byrd. He went 8-7 with a 4.13 ERA in 25 starts last season with Reading, but so far he has been much more effective. He is 4-0 with a 2.12 ERA in six starts in 2016. "He's made some adjustments, which is more delivery related than anything," Jordan said. "He's hit on a couple of things that has really helped his fastball command. His breaking ball his sharper. He's just a better pitcher right now than he was last year."

Today In Phils History – There is a bit of a dubious start to this day in Phillies history as Jesse Barnes of the Giants no hit the Phillies in 1922. Nearly a century later, in 2010, Jamie Moyer became the oldest player to throw a complete game shutout. Well, it almost balances things out. However, the opposites continue as on the same day that the Phillies acquired Dick Allen and Johnny Oates from the Braves, Garry Maddox made his Phillies debut. Exactly eleven years to the day later, at age 36, Maddox retires with the third most career gold gloves as an outfielder behind Willie Mays and Roberto Clemente.

The Phillies are currently 16-14 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 42-51-0 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!

No comments:

Post a Comment