Monday, May 30, 2016

Phillies Dominated By Cubs In Series Sweep

GAME RECAP: Cubs Sweep Phillies 7-2

Ben Zobrist continued his hot streak, smacking a three-run home run, and Miguel Montero added a solo shot that ricocheted off the right-field video board to lift the Cubs to a 7-2 victory Sunday over the Phillies at Wrigley Field for their fifth straight win. John Lackey went seven innings and held the Phillies to four hits, including a solo home run by Tyler Goeddel in the seventh, for his second win in his past seven starts. It was the Cubs' first three-game sweep of the Phillies at Wrigley Field since July 28-30, 1995. "The Cubs have a very good team," Phillies manager Pete Mackanin said. "Probably the best team in baseball right now. They beat us. Fair and square, they beat us." Chicago improved to a season-high 20-games over .500. What's next? "The next goal is 25 over," Cubs manager Joe Maddon said, happy to see his players want to complete the sweep. "Many times you'll see a team not have the same sense of urgency on sweep day when you can win the series. I like the fact that our guys aren't satisfied winning a series when you have a chance to sweep." Vince Velasquez gave up a season-high seven runs over 4 2/3 innings, and didn't get any offensive support, which was a theme for the Phillies in the series. Chicago outscored Philadelphia, 17-5, in the three games. Chicago has 18 wins by five or more runs, tops in the Majors. The had 16 all of last season.

  • The Phillies missed out on a scoring chance in the fourth when Freddy Galvis led off with a double and moved to third on an Andres Blanco groundout. After Maikel Franco walked to give the Phillies runners at the corners, Tommy Joseph grounded to Zobrist, who made an attempt to tag Franco running to second. Franco went out of the baseline to dodge the tag, and Zobrist threw to first for the out. Despite Galvis crossing the plate, Franco was called out and the double-play ruling prevented the run from scoring.
  • Galvis made his second error of the season to start a wild sequence that cost the Phillies in the fifth. With Dexter Fowler on first, Galvis booted a hard-hit Jason Heyward ball to his glove side. As Galvis tracked the ball down in shallow center, Fowler broke for third. The Phillies recovered to tag Fowler out at third after a 6-5-4-5 rundown, but Heyward moved to second and later scored. Had Galvis fielded the ball cleanly, it could have been a double play.
  • In the seventh, Matt Szczur was called safe at first after hitting a grounder to Franco. After a review, the call was overturned and Szczur was out.
  • "That's up for debate, I guess. Every team goes through a lull. Every team goes through a hot streak and a cold streak. How you come out of those streaks, especially the cold streak, determines how good of a team you are. I choose to believe we're on the bottom of the roller coaster and on our way up. That's the way I look at it." -- Mackanin, when asked if his team's magic is running out.
  • Lackey posted his fourth start this season in which he went at least six innings and gave up one or zero runs. He finished May with a 2-1 record and 2.09 ERA, striking out 40 over 43 innings. In the past five games, Cubs starters are 5-0 with a 2.08 ERA. "He treats every inning like it's 0-0 and he keeps going after you," Maddon said. "They're such a young team and want to swing so much," Lackey said of the Phillies. "Against an older, veteran team, you might throw a few more fastballs, but against a team like that, you have to keep mixing it up. They're not going to take the first-pitch strike, they're going to keep swinging."
Right-hander Jeremy Hellickson starts to begin a three-game series when the Phillies host the Nationals on Monday at 7:05 p.m. ET. Hellickson has gone at least six innings in each of his past three starts.


Howard Continues To Sit – As the Phillies packed their bags and headed out of Wrigley Field on Sunday after a 7-2 loss sealed a three-game sweep at the hands of the Cubs, struggling first baseman Ryan Howard faced questions about his future in the lineup. Howard, 36, is hitting .154, the signs of age taking their toll. Meanwhile, recent callup Tommy Joseph is hitting .286 through his first 35 Major League at-bats. Joseph's ninth-inning home run Sunday was his third, and he has RBIs in four of his past five games. Sitting the left-handed Howard against left-handed pitchers is not a new concept. But might he begin sitting against righties, too? "I haven't spoken to the manager about that," Howard said. "So he'd be the person to talk to. He hasn't come to me and told me anything about it, so I don't know anything about it." Manager Pete Mackanin didn't give a plan regarding how the Phillies will handle their big-money cornerstone (Howard's contract expires at the end of the season, but he is due more than $25 million this year), but Mackanin did offer this: "We'll just talk about it," he said. "We brought Joseph up here for a reason, to get a look at him, and I can't let him stagnate on the bench like [Darin Ruf] ended up doing, so he's going to face some right-handed pitchers to keep his timing. I don't know when the next time we're going to face a left-handed [pitcher] is, but I'm going to use him a little more often than I did with Ruf." What does Howard think of that? "I haven't heard anything about sitting more against righties. I haven't been called in the office and talked to," he said. Howard sat Friday against Cubs left-hander Jon Lester as expected (Howard is 2-for-15 this season against lefties) and went 0-for-4 Saturday against right-hander Kyle Hendricks. Sunday, Joseph was the man at first base against right-hander John Lackey. Was Howard surprised? "I guess," he said. "I show up, if my name's in the lineup or if it's not. I don't make the lineup. The manager makes the lineup. I just show up." If Howard continues to ride the bench against right-handers, how will his swing hold up? "I don't know," Mackanin said. "We'll just have to see." And if he is benched and that swing doesn't hold up, what will happen to his mindset? "I don't know," Mackanin said. "I don't know how he feels. I'm pretty sure we'll talk to him and we'll see where we go from there." If there's anything certain, it seems Joseph will continue to play, regardless of what that means for Howard and his legacy in Philadelphia. "The important thing is we brought Joseph up here to get a look at him," Mackanin said. "If he sits on the bench for a week or 10 days and we don't get a look at him, what's the point of bringing him up?"

Can Galvis Get The Gold? – In the second inning of Friday's 6-2 loss to the Cubs, Phillies shortstop Freddy Galvis ranged to his backhand side deep in the hole to field a Javier Baez grounder. Galvis made the stop while running full speed -- that was the easy part -- then planted his right foot despite momentum taking him the other way. Galvis heaved a throw across the infield just in time to nail the speedy Baez. Another out, another reminder Galvis continues to play Gold Glove-caliber defense in addition to the leadership and energy he has brought this season. "He's making every play there is," manager Pete Mackanin said Saturday. "If he's not the best shortstop in the league, I'd like to see the guy that's playing as consistent defense as he is." The fielding metric UZR, or ultimate zone rating, is an all-encompassing measure of how well a player fields his position compared to other fielders, and the stat largely backs Mackanin's statement. Entering Sunday, Galvis had the third-best UZR among Major League shortstops at 4.4, per FanGraphs. Only the Giants' Brandon Crawford (8.0) and the D-backs' Nick Ahmed (4.8) ranked higher. Last season, Galvis' UZR of 0.6 was 12th in baseball (a UZR of 0 represents the league average). So what's the difference? "I've been working with [bench coach Larry Bowa] on trying to set my feet and make the routine plays," Galvis said. "Don't try to do too much. Just throw the ball, catch the ball, and that's it. So far, so good." After making 17 errors last season, Galvis had only one in 48 games entering Sunday's 7-2 loss before committing one in the fifth inning. The last Phillies shortstop to make just one through the first 48 games of a season was Jimmy Rollins, who didn't commit his second until the 52nd game of his 2007 National League MVP season. On Sunday, Galvis' second error of the year came when he booted a hard-hit ball to his glove side, and he also rushed a throw to first on a Kris Bryant single. But that doesn't take away from his body of work. "I'm not going to be critical of Freddy Galvis," Mackanin said. "He's been unbelievable. He's been outstanding." "I'm just trying to focus every time," Galvis said. "Just make the routine plays." The range factor stat -- a simple average of putouts and assists per nine innings -- suggests Galvis is fielding a similar amount of balls as last season, and his 2016 range factor of 4.21 is right at the league average. So, indeed, what has improved is Galvis' ability to make the simple plays. That said, don't think Galvis doesn't have a flair for the spectacular. He showed that Friday, in addition to plenty of other instances. Told of Mackanin's comments about him being as good as anyone in the league, Galvis smirked. "It's good," Galvis said. "If he says it, I believe it. I just try hard every day, try to make the out for the pitcher. That's it."

Today In Phils History – On the same day that Chuck Klein hit a homerun off the same pitcher in two separate games, in one of those games that Phillies tied a NL record with 21 infield assists in a 12-2 win over the Boston Braves. 4 years later, Phillies pitcher Jim Bivin gets Babe Ruth to groundout in the last at bat of his major league career. 30 year later, the Phillies purchased Hall of Famer Lew Burdette from the Cubs. Not known for his speed, in 1978 Mike Schmidt stole 3 bases against the Pirates. 15 years later, power won the day as Darren Daulton (2), Dave Hollins, Mariano Duncan, Kim Batiste, and Tommy Greene all belted homeruns in an 18-1 win over the Rockies. 11 years later, Jim Thome connected for the team’s 37th homerun in May breaking the franchise record for homeruns in a single month. Thome’s successor, Ryan Howard, made homerun history of his own in 2009 when he connected for his 8th career grand slam tying the team record held by Mike Schmidt. Finally, two years prior in 2007, Jamie Moyer and Randy Johnson set the MLB record for oldest left handed starters to ever face one another in a single game at a combined age of 88 years and 90 days.  

The Phillies are currently 26-24 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 75-83-0 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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