Sunday, May 29, 2016

Phillies Having No Luck In Chicago

GAME RECAP: Cubs Dominate Phillies 4-1

Kyle Hendricks got all the run support he needed early, and the right-hander posted his second career complete game in the Cubs' 4-1 victory Saturday over the Phillies in front of 41,555 at Wrigley Field. "I didn't want him coming out of that game," Cubs manager Joe Maddon said of Hendricks, who went the distance for the first time since May 21, 2015, when he did so against the Padres. It was the second complete game by a Cub this season; Jake Arrieta did so when he no-hit the Reds on April 21. Hendricks is 2-1 with a 1.93 ERA in five home starts this year. "He was in total command of his pitches," Cubs catcher Miguel Montero said. Hendricks has been the odd man out, ranking second lowest in the National League in run support average entering the game. The Cubs were averaging 5.7 runs per game, second in the Majors behind the Red Sox, but apparently not on the days he pitches. On Saturday, Hendricks struck out six and scattered five hits, including a fluke double by Freddy Galvis to lead off the ninth that dropped in front of Jason Heyward in right. Galvis scored on a fielder's choice when Ryan Howard struck out. "Jason was trying to yell for [Ben Zobrist] to go get it, and I think 'Zo' thought he was yelling, 'I got it,'" Maddon said of Galvis' hit. "It was an impossible moment." Leading off the bottom of the first, Dexter Fowler homered off Phillies starter Jerad Eickhoff, who also served up RBI doubles to Zobrist and Heyward. Eickhoff, who gave up four runs over six innings and took the loss, also hasn't gotten much offensive support. He struck out seven and issued one walk. "I feel like we took pitches we should have hit and we swung at pitches we shouldn't have swung at," Phillies manager Pete Mackanin said. "I thought [Hendricks] gave us just enough -- not a lot -- but just enough pitches out over the plate, and we didn't capitalize."

  • The Phillies had their momentum stopped early after Odubel Herrera led off the game with a bunt single. Instead of giving the Phillies an early baserunner, Herrera got picked off when Hendricks threw over to first and Rizzo applied a quick tag. The Phillies didn't mount much of a scoring threat again until the ninth, and that's how it has gone lately. Philadelphia has scored a combined 22 runs in their past eight games, going 2-6 in that span. "He was going -- they've got some really fast guys," Maddon said. "Kyle does do a good job, and you saw it. He'll hold the ball and throw it accurately. Don't underestimate the importance of the tag. If you don't slap it down there, the inning is different."
  • After his double, Galvis advanced to third on a Maikel Franco groundout, and with the Cubs shifting on Ryan Howard, was able to get a huge lead. Howard struck out swinging on a changeup in the dirt, and as Montero gathered the ball and threw to second to put out Howard, Galvis broke home and scored. Galvis was originally credited with a stolen base, but the scoring was changed to a fielder's choice. "Made my whole day," Mackanin said. "Burnt the shutout. I like to see a guy like that playing with that kind of energy."
  • "He's got one error, and he's making every play there is. 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." -- Mackanin, on Galvis' defense.
Vince Velasquez starts the series finale against the Cubs on Sunday at 2:20 p.m. ET. Velasquez is coming off his shortest outing, leaving after four-plus innings and surrendering three runs in a no-decision against the Tigers.


Don’t Walk, Run It Off – Phillies shortstop Freddy Galvis sat at his locker with ice wrapped around his right ankle after Saturday's 4-1 loss to the Cubs, but this was no wounded man. Only a few minutes earlier, Galvis had raced around the bases, almost single-handedly accounting for the Phillies' lone run with hustle and heads-up baserunning. In the sixth, a 77-mph curveball from Cubs righty Kyle Hendricks hit Galvis on the bone just above his right ankle. Galvis took his time before heading to first, and trainers came out to check on him. Galvis stayed in, and good thing he did. In the ninth, Galvis led off with a shallow fly to right field. Cubs right fielder Jason Heyward lost track of the ball, and as it landed, Galvis turned past first and headed to second. He was credited with a double, but he was just getting started. After Galvis advanced to third on a Maikel Franco groundout to the right side, Ryan Howard came to the plate. The Cubs put a drastic shift on the left-hander, with no one close to holding Galvis on third. Galvis took his lead at least halfway down the line throughout the at-bat. When Howard swung and missed on an 0-2 changeup in the dirt, Galvis creeped toward the plate. Cubs catcher Miguel Montero gathered the ball and gave Galvis a quick check before firing to first to retire Howard. As soon as Galvis saw Montero begin to throw, he scampered home. "I was like, 'Let's go, that's it,'" Galvis said. Galvis slid in safely, beating Anthony Rizzo's return throw to the plate. He was initially awarded a stolen base, but the official scorer reversed the call to a fielder's choice after the game. The ruling wasn't as sexy as a steal, but the play still had plenty of impact. "Made my whole day," Phillies manager Pete Mackanin said. "Burnt the shutout. I like to see a guy like that playing with that kind of energy. … I'm thrilled the way he's playing hard. He's kind of taken a leadership role on the team, just with the way he goes about his business." He's also doing it with his defense, too. Galvis has made a handful of spectacular plays, and he has the third-best ultimate zone rating among shortstops in the Majors behind the Giants' Brandon Crawford and the D-backs' Nick Ahmed, per FanGraphs. "He's got one error, and he's making every play there is," Mackanin said. "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." And as for the ankle, Franco said it's no concern. Good to play Sunday? "Oh yeah," he said.

Offensive Offense – After a 4-1 loss to the Cubs on Saturday, Phillies manager Pete Mackanin credited Cubs starter Kyle Hendricks, who threw a complete game. But he was more troubled with his hitters, whose inability to find a groove is beginning to prove costly. The Phillies have lost six of eight. "I feel like we took pitches we should have hit, and we swung at pitches we shouldn't have swung at," Mackanin said. "I thought [Hendricks] gave us just enough -- not a lot -- but just enough pitches out over the plate, and we didn't capitalize." In the past eight games, the Phillies have scored 22 runs. After Friday's 6-2 defeat, Mackanin faced the question that since feels increasingly pressing -- "Are you worried that the offensive shortcomings are starting to catch up with you guys?" Mackanin didn't change his expression or alter his tone of voice. He answered in a matter-of-fact fashion. "I won't say I'm worried about it," Mackanin said. "I've been conscious of it for the whole season." That's how Mackanin and the Phillies are treating it. Stick to the facts, which reveal things both good and bad about the club. First, the numbers suggest the Phils have a better record than they should. Based on the Pythagorean win-loss stat, the Phillies should have a winning percentage of .394. Instead, they are at .531. Philadelphia has won 26 games despite a minus-38 run differential. The explanation is the fact the Phillies are playing -- and winning -- an astounding amount of close games, going 14-4 in one-run contests. Despite Philadelphia's surprising start, the struggle of the Phillies' lineup is indeed nothing new. Their 158 runs rank 29th in baseball, as do their 36 home runs. Only the 14-34 Braves are worse in those categories. "At the least, we certainly would like to have more offense, a little more power," Mackanin said. "You look at the Cubs, the Tigers, they've got the home run. They've got power. They have threats to do damage. We haven't been able to do that." But the Phillies have had respectable starting pitching, and the bullpen in particular has been good as of late. The 'pen has surrendered only three earned runs in its past 19 innings, dropping its ERA to a season-low 3.66. So as much as the numbers are an indictment of the offense, there is also a testament to the club's pitching. The facts also show Tyler Goeddel, Peter Bourjos, Cameron Rupp, Odubel Herrera and Freddy Galvis have all raised their batting averages in May. And the part that matters most: The Phillies are 26-23, right in the thick of the National League East race. "I'm always concerned that it might catch up with us," Mackanin said. "But as long as our pitching does their job, we're going to be in as many games as they allow us to be in."

Today In Phils History – 20 years after the Phillies acquired Kirby Higbe from the Cubs, Gene Conley took a tough loss as when he tried to intentionally walk Joe Adcock he let a pitch get a little took close to the plate and Adcock drove in Hank Aaron with the winning run. 6 years later, as Charlie Hayes was being born in Mississippi, Dick Allen blasted a 510 foot homerun at Connie Mack Stadium against the Cubs. From the beginning of a career to the end, it was on this day in 1989, after hitting .203 in the early part of the season, Michael Jack Schmidt announced his retirement in an emotional farewell speech. Back to the blossoming of a career, in 2006 Ryan Howard hit his 18th homerun of the season setting a record for the most homeruns by a 2nd year player by the end of the month. Of course, the only memory that could top that of Schmidt’s retirement is that of Roy Halladay’s perfection during a 1-0 victory on this day in 2010. It was the 20th perfect game in MLB history. Since then, the only quasi notable occurrence is the debut of Cesar Hernandez in 2013.

The Phillies are currently 26-23 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 40-56-0 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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