Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Rookies Lead Phillies To Victory

GAME RECAP: Phils Filet Fish 3-1

Phillies right-hander Vince Velasquez set the tone, working out of a first-inning jam, and struck out 10 in five shutout innings. The bullpen kept the K's coming, Phillies pitchers racking up 17 in a 3-1 win over the Marlins on Tuesday night at Citizens Bank Park. Tommy Joseph, who picked up his first big league hit on Monday, homered for the first time in his career in a 3-for-4 night. The drive off the foul pole in left in the second inning was the first of three runs (two earned) allowed by Miami lefty Wei-Yin Chen in six innings. The Marlins had their three-game win streak snapped. "Tonight was all about Tommy Joseph and the bullpen," Phillies manager Pete Mackanin said. "It was nice to see Tommy get his first home run. He made that great play to end the game. Not much more you can ask for from him." The 17 strikeouts by the Phillies is the most since the club fanned 18 on May 6, 2011, against the Braves, which also is a franchise mark for a nine-inning game. For Miami, the 17 times striking out matches a team high for nine innings, with the last coming on April 10, 2014, at Washington. Miami had runners on second and third with no outs in the first against Velasquez. But the right-hander worked out of it, and he also stranded runners at the corners in the third. Miami did manage to raise his pitch count, and after 103 pitches and five innings, the Phillies were into their bullpen. "To win a game when your starter throws over 100 pitches in five innings is really a bonus," Mackanin said. With the win, the Phils moved a half-game behind the Nationals for first place in the National League East. Miami's Marcell Ozuna had his 16-game hit streak snapped. "[Velasquez] gets off the hook in the first there, we get him in trouble," Marlins manager Don Mattingly said. "He's got 75 through three innings. We did a nice job of battling him. He's got good stuff. It seems like from there, we didn't really put anything together until there at the end." Miami loaded the bases in the ninth against Jeanmar Gomez, who allowed a Derek Dietrch sacrifice fly, but got Martin Prado to ground out to Joseph to seal the win and earn his 15th save.

  • If getting his first Major League hit and home run on back-to-back nights wasn't enough, Joseph piled on, collecting two more hits in addition to his long ball and driving home two of the Phillies' three runs. Tuesday marked the first time Joseph batted cleanup, and Mackanin's decision paid off. It was just the third time in 40 games this season that a Phillies No. 4 hitter recorded three hits. Spanning 202 games since the start of 2015, it was just the 10th such occurrence. "I didn't expect that," Joseph said of being penciled in the No. 4 hole. "To hit cleanup for this team, who's playing really well right now, it's pretty awesome."
  • Velasquez didn't retire the Marlins 1-2-3 in an inning until the fourth, when he was already at 91 pitches. He allowed the first two to reach base in the first inning, but a strikeout paired with smart play from Freddy Galvis at short prevented any damage. In the third, Miami again had a runner at third base, but Velasquez got Justin Bour to whiff on a curveball to end the threat. Velasquez dodged trouble all night, but the 103 pitches it took him to do so prevented him from going any deeper. It was his fourth start this season in which he's allowed zero runs on three hits or fewer, but he's only reached the seventh inning once. "Velasquez, he was just spraying the ball all over the place," Mackanin said.
  • Ichiro Suzuki is inching closer toward 3,000 hits. The 42-year-old, called upon to pinch-hit in the seventh inning for Chen, swatted an opposite-field single to left. The flare fell just out of the reach of a sprinting Galvis. It was career hit No. 2,949 for Ichiro, now 51 away from 3,000. The pinch-hit also had significance because it gave Miami two runners on and one out in a three-run game.
  • Velasquez is used to posting big strikeout numbers. He fanned 16 Padres in a win on April 14. In the third inning, Velasquez achieved a rarity when he struck out Prado, who had gone 59 at-bats between striking out.
  • The Marlins picked an opportune time to challenge a close play at third base. Joseph was on third in the sixth inning, and with the Phillies up by three, Miami asked for a replay review on catcher Jeff Mathis' pickoff attempt of Joseph, who dove back into the base as Prado applied the tag. The Marlins challenged the safe call, and after a review of one minute and 33 seconds, the ruling was the call on the field stands.
Jeremy Hellickson (3-2, 4.12) takes the ball for the Phils in Wednesday's series finale. Philadelphia will be looking to secure its fourth straight series victory and seventh in its last eight. Hellickson was phenomenal his last time out, going seven innings and only surrendering two unearned runs to the Reds in a 3-2 win.


Rookie Cleans Up – Less than 24 hours after receiving a standing ovation while standing on first base after his first big league hit, Tommy Joseph stepped on the bag again -- but didn't stay there very long. Joseph's second-inning solo homer bounced off the left-field foul pole, and the 24-year-old first baseman trotted around the Citizens Bank Park basepaths for the first time. The home run would be almost all the Phillies needed in a 3-1 victory over the Marlins on Tuesday night, but Joseph didn't stop there. He singled to right in the fourth and to center in the sixth, where Marcell Ozuna misplayed the ball and let Joseph get to third and Cesar Hernandez to score the Phillies' third and final run. By the time Jeanmar Gomez recorded the final out, when Joseph made a diving stop at first base, he was 3-for-4. "Tonight was all about Tommy Joseph and the bullpen," manager Pete Mackanin said. "It was nice to see Tommy get his first home run. He made that great play to end the game. Not much more you can ask for from him." Not since 2009 has a Phillies player homered in a multihit effort within his first three Major League games. It's been done 11 times in franchise history, but the last to do so was John Mayberry Jr., going 2-for-3 against the Yankees on May 23, 2009. Joseph's big night gets even larger when put into context. Mackanin threw him into the cleanup hole because, "Why not?" he joked pregame. But Joseph gave his manager a better answer going forward. "I didn't expect that," Joseph said of seeing his name in the No. 4 slot on the lineup card. "To hit cleanup for this team, which is playing pretty well right now, it's pretty awesome." Only three times this season has a Phillies No. 4 hitter recorded three hits in a game -- Joseph joining Maikel Franco, who had three singles against the Padres on April 11, and Ryan Howard, who enjoyed a 3-for-5 night against the Indians on April 29. In 202 games since the start of 2015, it's now only been done 10 times. Despite the big game, Mackanin said the plan is to stick to the platoon at first base with Howard. Joseph, however, likely won't get pulled against righty relievers like Darin Ruf did. The rookie can hit right-handers, but it's important to Mackanin to keep Howard in the lineup, too. "I might mix in Joseph against a couple of right-handers here and there," Mackanin said. "But Howie's still a big a part of the team. We all know what he's capable of doing. It's nice to see Joseph add some offense to the team, but we'll just play it a day at a time." The Marlins' Wei-Yin Chen is the last lefty starter the Phillies will face for the foreseeable future, but Joseph will get his chances against righties when the Phils head to Detroit a series from now, where he and Howard will share first base and designated hitter duties.

Continues To Show Promise – Opportunity came early for the Marlins on Tuesday night, when they put runners on second and third with no outs in the first inning against hard-throwing Phillies right-hander Vince Velasquez. But as quickly as the chance to break through came, it went away. Velasquez pitched out of the jam, and Miami was scrambling to simply make contact the rest of the way in a 3-1 loss to the Phillies at Citizens Bank Park. "It's one of those times," manager Don Mattingly said. "You never know what changes the game, or where the momentum slips away. He gets off the hook there. It would have been nice to put a couple up." The big inning, and the big hit, eluded the Marlins throughout. They ended up striking out 17 times, which matched the franchise record for most K's in a nine-inning game. It's been done four times now, with the last being on April 10, 2014, at Washington. Velasquez, who had his pitch count run up, fanned 10 in five innings. "To win a game when your starter throws over 100 pitches in five innings is really a bonus," Phillies manager Pete Mackanin said. The Marlins avoided being shut out for the first time this year, pushing a run across in the ninth inning on Derek Dietrich's sacrifice fly. In the first inning, Dietrich singled to open the game. He went to third on Martin Prado's double to left. The inning quickly turned after that. Christian Yelich stung a sharp grounder to short. Even though the Phillies were playing their middle infielders deep, conceding a run on a grounder, Dietrich held at third. "We're definitely going on contact," Mattingly said. "The one thing that ball does is it comes off the bat, not on the ground. It comes off on that low one-hopper at short, so it's a little tweener read. Obviously, we want to be moving on that ball, but Deet kind of froze there." Giancarlo Stanton struck out and the inning ended on Justin Bour's pop foul to third. "We've got to score there," Yelich said. "That's something you've got to take advantage of early off the bat, and we didn't. It came back and cost us." The Marlins stranded 10 and went 0-for-7 with runners in scoring position. It was the second straight game in which the club wasn't able to break through for a big inning. In Monday's 5-3 win, the Marlins left 12 on base and went 2-for-10 with runners in scoring position. "After the first three [innings], we didn't really seem to have the same type of at-bats," Mattingly said.

Goeddel Capitalizing – Pete Mackanin had exhausted all his options to extract any bit of offensive production from his corner outfield spots. Cedric Hunter had been optioned to Triple-A. Darin Ruf followed a few weeks later. So why not put some faith into the player taken No. 1 in this year's Rule 5 Draft? Since May 4, Tyler Goeddel has started all but two games in left field. And the vote of confidence from the Phillies manager is paying off. Goeddel entered Tuesday with a four-game hitting streak and has hit safely in six of the past seven games. While serving a limited role to start the season, Goeddel was hitting .160 (4-for-25) with nothing more than a single. He sat for three straight games leading up to May 4. The 23-year-old outfielder has raised his batting average 80 points since the calendar turned, hitting .303 to bring his season average up to .241. "To get regular playing time and confidence is huge," Goeddel said. "Coming to the field every day to see myself in the lineup, it's a feeling I didn't have last month. It's a lot more relaxing, less stressful." The month of April marked the first time Goeddel had spent any time above Double-A in his professional career. Playing sporadically only made the transition more difficult. "I'm sure after his season was over, he never thought he'd be in the big leagues this year," Mackanin said. "It's not easy to make the adjustment. It's a little overwhelming. I think that's what happened to him." Now that Goeddel is seeing pitchers for a second time, he's able to make adjustments -- just as they're doing to him. Goeddel found that he was late on the majority of fastballs he faced. So he began starting his leg kick earlier. He's also working on eliminating wrapping his hands as he starts his swing to get his bat into the zone faster. Prior to May 4, Goeddel whiffed on 26 percent of the fastballs he saw. He's swung and missed on only 6 percent of fastballs since then, putting 32 percent of them in play, compared to just 9 percent during the first month of the season. "You need to hit the fastball if you're going to play up here, and I feel I've made that adjustment," Goeddel said. It will be a year of adjustments for Goeddel. He faces the same challenge as every other young player: The more film opposing pitchers get, the better they can adjust to the hitter. It's a battle for who can stay ahead of the other, and Goeddel has the upper hand for now. Mackanin said he even considered moving Goeddel up to the second slot in the Phillies' batting order. On a team that's scored four or more runs just twice in its last 20 games, Mackanin will ride the hot hand as long as he can.

Today In Phils History – During a double header in 1929, during which Chuck Klein hit homeruns in each game, the Phillies and Dodgers combine to score 50 runs and split the twin billing. 35 years later, in 1964, Jim Bunning threw a 1 hitter against Houston… Don Hoak was released that same day. In 2000, Mark McGwire victimized the Phillies once again going deep 3 times (the second time he had done so as a visitor) ending the game with 539 homeruns, 8th all time, after passing Mickey Mantle at 536. 5 year later, Bobby Abreu hit a homerun extending his team record streak of consecutive games with an extra base hit to 11. He was only 1 of four players in the history of the game to do so and the first since 1920. The homerun also tied a franchise record giving Abreu an RBI in 10 straight games.

The Phillies are currently 23-17 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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