Sunday, May 15, 2016

Rupp Held On To The Ball!

GAME RECAP: Phillies Stun Reds 4-3

Aaron Nola pitched masterfully for seven innings, but the Phillies literally had to hang on in the ninth inning to secure their 4-3 victory over the Reds on Saturday. The game ended on a double play where Eugenio Suarez tagged up on a fly ball and collided with catcher Cameron Rupp as the throw came to the plate. The Phillies continued their recent dominance by taking the first two games of the series, and are 9-0-1 in home series vs. Cincinnati since 2006. Nola gave up two runs (one earned) with five hits, one walk and nine strikeouts. It was a 1-1 game in the fifth inning when the Phillies scored two runs against Tim Adleman. Tyler Goeddel hit a single through the middle, followed by Nola drawing a full-count walk. After a Peter Bourjos sacrifice, Odubel Herrera shot a hard RBI single through the middle and Cesar Hernandez pulled a roller through the right side that scored Nola for a 3-1 Phillies lead. Adleman was pulled after 67 pitches over five innings, with three runs, eight hits, two walks and three strikeouts. "I think I was a little out of sync early on, especially that fifth inning," Adleman said. "The first three innings turned out. Somebody told me I had 25 pitches and only four balls. I got a couple of double plays, the defense played good behind me. A couple of walks here and there and tough luck on a couple of the groundballs. You look up at the scoreboard and it's 3-1." Philadelphia added a run on Herrera's solo homer to right field against JC Ramirez in the seventh. The ball landed in the first row of seats as a fan reached out and it took a crew chief review before it was determined that the call stands. The game ended in wild fashion. After Adam Duvall's RBI double in the ninth put the Reds down by a run, pinch-hitter Jordan Pacheco lifted a one-out fly ball to left field that was caught by Goeddel. After Suarez tagged up, Goeddel made a perfect throw to the plate. Suarez lowered his shoulder and barreled into Rupp as he caught the ball. He was able to hold onto the ball and make the tag. The Reds challenged, questioning whether Rupp violated Rule 7.13 by blocking the plate. Upon replay review, the call was confirmed and the game was over. "I think they got it right," Reds manager Bryan Price said. "We challenged it simply because you have to take a look at it. We can't tell from there what was going on there from our vantage point. We did the right thing and we had them take a look at it. It validated that the umpires got it right. That isn't really what cost us the ballgame tonight."

  • Nola loaded the bases with nobody out in the top of the first on singles by Zack Cozart and Jose Peraza and a walk to Joey Votto, but got out of the inning allowing just one run. Nola has allowed six first-inning runs in eight starts this season for a 6.75 earned run average in that inning. "Nola was fantastic after his first inning," said manager Pete Mackanin. "I won't say he struggled. He just gave them a couple pitches to hit. After that he was outstanding. If it wasn't for the error I probably would have sent him out for the next inning. But he was great." The 22-year-old ended up pitching seven innings and allowing just one earned run.
  • The Phillies beat the Reds Friday night in part because of a safety squeeze by pitcher Jeremy Hellickson. They won again Saturday night partly because Nola didn't get a bunt down with a runner on first and nobody out and the score tied in the fifth. Instead he walked and the Phillies went on score two runs and take a lead they never relinquished. "The big at-bat of the night was Nola's walk," manager Pete Mackanin said. "Then Bourjos laid down a nice bunt. That was huge."
  • In the fourth inning after it initially appeared that Hernandez stole second base and was ruled safe, the Reds challenged umpire Ramon De Jesus' call. Upon the replay review, Phillips tagged Hernandez on the helmet before he touched the base and the call was overturned for the first out.
  • "It didn't feel good. My legs rolled up underneath me. I just wanted to recoup and lay there. Whatever. I don't know what was going through my head, honestly." -- Rupp, on the game-ending double play and home-plate collision with Suarez.
  • The Phillies are 22-15. Last season they didn't win their 22nd game until June 7 (22-36).
Left-hander Adam Morgan will be attempting to build on his first quality start of the season, May 10 at Atlanta, when he faces the Reds in the series finale Sunday at Citizens Bank Park. Morgan is 1-0 with a 3.94 ERA in three big league starts this season.


What A Way To End The Game – It's hard to imagine a more exciting way to end a game. The Reds had already scored once, to pull within a run of the Phillies on Saturday night at Citizens Bank Park, and had runners on second and third with one out. So when Phillies left fielder Tyler Goeddel broke back on pinch-hitter Jordan Pacheco's fly ball, it seemed that the game would be tied and that Cincinnati was still well-positioned to take the lead. Seconds later, the Phillies were celebrating in gleeful disbelief after Goeddel threw a strike to catcher Cameron Rupp, who caught the ball a split second before runner Eugenio Suarez barreled into him. Rupp, who was slow to get up, held onto the ball and home-plate umpire Vic Carpazza emphatically signaled that the runner was out, giving the Phillies a 4-3 win. A replay review confirmed that Rupp had set up properly and that the throw had carried him into the base line. Additionally, since the runner didn't slide, the catcher is exempted from a violation for blocking the plate. The Phillies, now 14-3 in one-run games this season, were naturally jubilant. "I thought there was zero chance," said right-hander David Hernandez, who was pitching the ninth because closer Jeanmar Gomez wasn't available. "It was probably one of the best throws I've ever seen from the outfield. Then the fact that Rupp caught it, tagged him and held onto it. I was in the background jumping up and down. It was one of the best plays I've ever seen to end the game." The Reds, naturally, were deflated. "I think they got it right," said Reds manager Bryan Price. "We challenged it simply because you have to take a look at it. It validated that the umpires got it right." Suarez disagreed. "I thought I might score, but [Goeddel] made a really good throw. [Rupp] gave me nothing. He was in my line. He didn't give me a choice to go this way or that way. I just tried to be safe." Rupp admitted that he isn't sure exactly what happened after the collision. "I was thinking, 'Hold onto that ball for dear life, don't let it go and whatever happens, happens. Sacrifice everything. That's my plate, don't let him get to it,'" he said, adding that he doesn't remember being hit that hard since he played high school football. Said Goeddel: "When he hit it, I broke back on it at first. I knew he hit it pretty well. It was really high, so I was able to get behind it and get everything into the throw." Phillies manager Pete Mackanin laughed when asked if he thought Goeddel had a chance to make the play when the ball was first hit. "I was hoping he did," Mackanin said. "I was hoping he's make a perfect throw. That's what I was hoping. And he made a perfect throw. Things are going our way right now and it's just a great way to end a game."

Watching The Bullpen Arms – Phillies setup man Hector Neris is tied for second in the Major Leagues with 21 appearances and closer Jeanmar Gomez is right behind with 20. Before the Phillies' 4-3 win over the Reds on Saturday night at Citizens Bank Park, manager Pete Mackanin said he wasn't worried about their workload. "The reason I'm not concerned is because I'm well aware of it," he said before the game. "We're going to take care of them. I'm going to be certain we're not going to abuse them." What he didn't say was that he had already made up his mind not to use either pitcher Saturday night if there was any way to avoid it. So Andrew Bailey pitched a strong eighth and David Hernandez, with the help of a terrific throw from left fielder Tyler Goeddel to catcher Cameron Rupp to cut down the tying run at the plate in the bottom of the ninth, earned his first save since July 12, 2013. Earlier in the day, Mackanin spoke at length about his plans to protect his two back-of-the-bullpen relievers and acknowledged that he couldn't keep using them as much as he has to this point. The manager pointed out that Neris and Gomez have each pitched three days in a row just once this season. Their pitch counts are closely watched. It's unusual, he pointed out, for a team to have as many close games as the Phillies have had. "I'm aware that in the course of a long season we can't keep up this pace. And there have been an unusual amount of situations with one-run games that when you try to win games, you've got to do it," he explained. Neris was on a pace to make 94 appearances this season and Gomez, who leads the big leagues with 14 saves, projected to 90 games pitched. The club record is 90, set by Kent Tekulve in 1987. "Once again, I don't feel like I've abused them in any way, shape or form," Mackanin said. "The only thing that happens is, and it happens when you have good pitching and you're playing one-run games, you use your best guys for the eighth and the ninth. Up until this point, Neris has been almost unhittable. Why would I use anyone else? But I have used Hernandez and I have used Bailey in tight situations earlier in the game. It's almost like I'm looking forward to a lopsided game. Preferably in our favor. "When every night it's a one-run game, we've got to try to win the game. But I'm not concerned only because I'm aware of it. It's not going to continue like this. And if it does, we'll have other guys more involved." Which is exactly what he did Saturday night.

A Little Surprise – Close to 30 minutes after Emmanuel Burriss borrowed his glove to field some grounders, 13-year-old Francisco Dotor was still a bit shellshocked. "It was crazy," Dotor said, wearing the glove he shared with a big leaguer. Nearly 100 kids ages 7 to 14 were greeted with surprise appearances from Burriss and Colton Murray at Franklin Delano Roosevelt Park on Saturday afternoon. The Phillies players showed up about halfway through a youth baseball clinic put on by the Phillies Urban Youth Academy for the inaugural Play Ball Weekend. Coaches were sending players through hitting, baserunning, infield and outfield drills when Burriss and Murray arrived. They spent the remainder of the camp rotating through the stations, helping at each. "To be able to come into another city that you're not even from," Burriss said, "and be able to touch on their community as much as our community gave to us, wherever we came from, it means a big deal." There weren't any pitching stations, but Murray harkened back to his high school days, when he also played infield. On the outfield drills, though, Murray gave way to Burriss' expertise. They both tossed popups to the kids, though, Murray even succumbing to one's pleading to "go deep" and overshooting him by about 20 feet. Every kid's request thereafter to also get a deep ball exemplified some of the energy and pure love of the game that inspires the Major Leaguers at events like this one. "All these guys are just out here having fun," Murray said. "It allows you to think back to the times of being with your dad or being around all your friends, going out and playing baseball -- having fun." Make no mistake: Murray cherishes his time in Major and Minor League clubhouses. "It's fun all over again," he said. "The grind of it, though," Burriss added, "sometimes you forget what this is all about. This is why we play the game." For a half-hour on a Saturday afternoon, Burriss and Murray escaped the 162-game drudge. They exchanged high-fives, daps and gloves with dozens of Philadelphia kids, making some lifelong memories in the process and possibly inspiring some to further pursue the sport.

RBI Bond – As Ramon Reyes soft-tossed baseballs to participants in MLB's inaugural Play Ball Weekend on Saturday afternoon, he couldn't help but reflect on what the Reviving Baseball in Inner Cities (RBI) program had done for him. If a 13-year-old Reyes, fresh off a move to Philadelphia, were told in 14 years he'd be making a comfortable living as a realtor in suburban Pennsylvania, it would have been difficult for him to imagine. But at 16, everything changed. After growing up in the south Bronx projects, where "welfare was the norm ... drug dealers were the role models," as he described it, Reyes and his family moved to the City of Brotherly Love. Three years later, he met Jon Joaquin and joined the Philadelphia chapter of the RBI program. Joaquin, for the past 16 years, has headed the Phillies' youth baseball development department. His realm of responsibilities include the RBI program, Play Ball Weekend and other outreach initiatives to help grow interest in the sport among local youth. "It's all about opportunity, and I always preach that," Joaquin said. "If I can provide these kids with an opportunity -- on the field or off the field -- those are things I think it's all about." Reyes' friends coaxed him into trying out for the RBI travel team in 2005. Already being a talented catcher, Reyes made the Triple-A squad and got to travel the country. With the RBI program, Reyes took trips to New York, New Jersey, Florida, California and more. Hopping on an airplane to go play baseball sounds like a good gig for any 16-year-old. But it was particularly impactful on Reyes. Growing up in the projects, he said, he didn't know anything but rich and poor. "I didn't know anything about a medium income, a middle class family," Reyes said. "It helped me see there's a better world out there." It also created lifelong bonds between Reyes and his teammates, coaches and mentors in the program. He was on the 2007 Philadelphia RBI team that beat the reigning champion Los Angeles squad to win the RBI World Series (becoming the first cold-weather team to do so). The players from that title-winning team had a five-year reunion in 2012 -- not unlike a high school or college graduating class would. They shared stories and reminisced while reliving joyous times. More recently, though, the team gathered again on a far more somber occasion. One member of the 2007 team was Oakland A's pitching prospect Sean Murphy, who died unexpectedly last month. They were able to celebrate his life, rather than wallow, thanks to the memories they shared. "A Philly guy straight in, straight out," Reyes said. "A bunch of us went to the funeral and met up again. Of course we're all down. But when we see each other, it was like happy moments." Joaquin stayed in contact, too, like he does with many former RBI participants. Reyes was a freshman in college when he won the RBI title. Joaquin has watched him go from 16 years old to college graduate and now to a mature adult who wants to give back to the community that gave him so much. "It's like a big brother type thing," Joaquin said. "He's really grown up to be a great man." So when Joaquin reached out about helping out on Saturday, "that's the first thing I did, like 'Oh man, I'm in,'" Reyes said. He largely credits RBI for the man he's become. His dedication to the program as a teenager helped build a work ethic and taught him how to stay organized. Mostly, though, it opened window to a new world for him. So when Reyes took the field on Saturday, he did so with plenty of motivation. The 27-year-old realtor hustled onto the field with the kids he was coaching. He gave hands-on hitting tips and one-on-one time for every kid on the field. Hopefully, he said, he can give them just one tidbit of information. "Then I've made a difference." After all, Joaquin said, "You never know when the Ramon Reyes is going to be coming through our system and referencing RBI as an outlet for them."

Today In Phils History – The history of the day begins with the Phillies crushing the Reds in 1911 by scoring 21 runs which was followed 11 years later when St. Louis scored in every inning but the 5th in a 19-7 loss. In that same game in 1922, pitcher Tom Sullivan hits a home run in his major-league debut becoming the second pitcher to do so in franchise history… thankfully, it overshadowed an ugly performance on the mound. It was also on this day in 1999 when Mike Piazza lined out to Alex Arias who turned a triple play. A decade later, the Phillies visited the White House to celebrate their 2008 World Series victory. A key member of that team, Jimmy Rollins, hit his 433rd career double 4 years later passing Ed Delahanty and setting a new franchise record. Notable debuts on this day include Johnny Estrada and Nelson Figueroa in 2001 and Jake Diekman in 2012. None of those players stayed in the Phillies uniform for long.

The Phillies are currently 22-15 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 52-49-1 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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