Thursday, May 19, 2016

Phillies Take Another Series

GAME RECAP: Phillies Beat Marlins 4-2

Jeremy Hellickson, changing speeds and overcoming a rough first inning, kept the Phillies in position to rally like they've done so often this season. Cameron Rupp's two-run single was enough cushion for Philadelphia to claim a 4-2 win over the Marlins on Wednesday afternoon at Citizens Bank Park. Andres Blanco delivered an RBI double in the Phillies' three-run third inning off Tom Koehler. Able to erase a two-run deficit in the first, Philadelphia took two of three in the series, while Miami capped its road trip at 3-4. "This is a division that's going to be tough to win," Marlins manager Don Mattingly said. "You just can't afford to give games away. Today, felt like one we just let get away from us." Koehler struggled finding the strike zone early, but he was able to give the Marlins seven innings, allowing three runs (two earned) on seven hits. Christian Yelich and Marcell Ozuna each had first-inning RBI doubles off Hellickson, who had a stretch of retiring 11 straight in his six-inning start. The Phillies pitching capitalized on three double plays. Tyler Goeddel connected on his first Major League home run, a drive to center in the eighth off Jose Urena to add insurance. "I didn't feel anything when I hit it," Goeddel said. "It was one of those." The Phillies kept Giancarlo Stanton in check all series, as the Miami slugger went hitless in 10 at-bats with nine strikeouts. "It's not like we can sit here and blame everything on Giancarlo because he's in slump," Mattingly said. "That's just not right. We've talked about being a team all year long. Again, we get two in the first and don't show up after that. He's one of eight guys going to the plate."

  • The Phillies' third-inning rally, which plated all three of their runs, culminated on a two-RBI single up the middle from Rupp. The Phils' catcher had missed the last three games with an injured left ankle from Saturday's game-ending collision with the Reds' Eugenio Suarez. Manager Pete Mackanin thought he might give Rupp an extra day to rest before Thursday's off-day, but his decision to return Rupp to the starting lineup paid off. "I told [Mackanin] I was good-to-go," Rupp said. "I came in, felt good this morning. He said, 'You're in there, then.'"
  • It took an inning for Hellickson to get into his groove, but once he was there, he didn't stop. Three Marlins reached base in the first, scoring two runs on doubles from Yelich and Ozuna. Over the next five innings, though, Hellickson allowed only three to reach. He promptly erased two with a pair of 6-4-3 double plays and stranded Yelich on first with his third strikeout of Giancarlo Stanton to end his day. Hellickson struck out four and left the game holding a 3-2 lead. "He continues to throw an outstanding changeup," Mackanin said. "He's changing speeds, and he's been spotting his fastball very well. I think that's what you call pitching."
  • On the seventh pitch of his second-inning at-bat, Maikel Franco softly bounced a ball to third. He hustled down the line, but first-base umpire Joe West called him out. After a 45-second review, replay officials overturned the call and Franco was safe at first. The Phillies improved to 7-for-14 in challenges this season.
  • Ichiro Suzuki had a pinch-hit single in the eighth inning, giving him 2,950 hits in his big league career. The 42-year-old is now 50 shy of 3,000.

After an off-day, the Phils host the Braves for a three-game weekend series beginning at 7:05 p.m. on Friday. Aaron Nola (3-2, 2.89 ERA) starts against Matt Wisler (1-3, 3.14 ERA).


First Blast – Tyler Goeddel barreled the eighth-inning pitch he launched over the left-center field wall so well, he didn't even feel it leave his bat. The ball landed in the seats 428 feet away from home plate, per Statcast™, as Goeddel jogged toward first in his first Major League homer trot during Wednesday's4-2 win over the Marlins. "I was looking for a fastball and got one," Goeddel said. "I got some air on it for the first time in a while." Goeddel, the Phillies' Rule 5 Draft pick, has been streaking since the calendar turned to May. But he's only now starting to show some pop. Goeddel's first extra-base hit came on May 8. Last Friday, he tripled for the first time. On Monday, Goeddel added another double in a three-hit performance. Finally, in his 25th game, he got his first home run. "It felt really good to get it out of the way," Goeddel said. Despite going hitless in Tuesday's contest, Goeddel has collected a hit in seven of his last nine games. The 23-year-old is hitting .325 (13-for-40) in May. When he returned to the dugout, Goeddel got the same silent treatment teammate Tommy Joseph did after he knocked his first big league shot on Tuesday. "I was staring at everyone," Goeddel said. "I was like, 'I know what you're doing. You're doing the same thing as yesterday.' But it was awesome to be a part of that."

Changing Things Up – Had Maikel Franco not lost a foul pop in the gray Philadelphia skies, Jeremy Hellickson may have escaped the first inning unscathed. But the ball fell to the ground, mere feet away from the Phillies' third baseman, and the Marlins proceeded to get Hellickson for two runs the remainder of the inning. But that would be all Hellickson and the Phils' bullpen would surrender for the next eight frames in a 4-2 win on Wednesday afternoon. "[Hellickson] pitched outstanding the rest of the way," manager Pete Mackanin said. "He really mixed his pitches well and gave us a quality start." The 29-year-old right-hander, the elder statesman in Philadelphia's young rotation, allowed only three more Marlins to reach base in the final five innings he pitched. Mackanin lifted Hellickson for a pinch-hitter in the sixth, but when he was pulled, Hellickson had retired 15 of the last 16 batters he faced. Two singles were erased on ensuing double plays. "I just took a while to adjust to the zone," Hellickson said. "I wasn't getting ahead of guys." In his last start, Hellickson relied on what he said was his best changeup to go seven innings and permit two unearned runs. On Wednesday, it was command of his fastball that allowed him to mix his pitches and keep the Marlins off balance. Hellickson used three different pitches to record his four strikeouts. With Christian Yelich on second in the first inning, he got Giancarlo Stanton swinging on a change. Stanton whiffed three more times, two coming against Hellickson sliders out of the zone low and away. Hellickson also used a curveball to get opposing starter Tom Koehler swinging. "He continues to throw an outstanding changeup," Mackanin said. "He's changing speeds and he's been spotting his fastball very well. I think that's what you call pitching." Wednesday's outing lowered Hellickson's ERA to 3.99 -- a mark he hasn't finished a season with since 2012. In the four starts he hasn't given up a home run in, his ERA is just 0.69. While his change is transforming back into the out-pitch it had been in his early years in Tampa Bay, Hellickson now is a five-pitch guy who can keep opponents off balance. He rotates a four- and two-seam fastball, mixes in curves and sliders, and finishes them with his low-80s change. According to PITCHf/x, Hellickson's changeup this season has been at its best since 2012, when he was still a Tampa Bay Ray. From 2011-12, when the pitch was rated the highest, Hellickson posted ERAs of 2.95 and 3.10, respectively. "It's probably my best pitch," Hellickson said of his change. "But my fastball command's making it a lot better right now."

Today In Phils History – It all comes down to homeruns and pitchers today as we first look back at 1980 when Johnny Bench hit his 12th and final homerun off of Steve Carlton, the most he had given up to any batter in his career. Speaking of players toward the end of their career, in 2011 Jason Giambi, 40 years old at the time, hit 3 home runs and account for all of scoring during the game as the Rockies shutout the Phillies 7-0. He became the second oldest player behind Stan Musial (41 in 1962) to hit 3 homeruns in a game. From age to youth… on this day three years ago, Erik Kratz and Freddy Galvis hit back-to-back home runs in the bottom of the ninth off Reds closer Aroldis Chapman for the 3-2 win. It was the first time the Phillies ended a game with consecutive home runs since 1922. As for the pitchers of the day, you couldn’t ask for two more contradicting personalities to share a birthday in Curt Simmons (1929) and Turk Wendell (1967).

The Phillies are currently 24-17 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 45-57-0 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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