Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Verlander Dominates Phillies

GAME RECAP: Tigers Dominate Phillies 3-1

Justin Verlander worked over the Phillies for eight scoreless innings, and Miguel Cabrera doubled in one run and grounded in another -- continuing his offensive awakening in May -- as Detroit captured its eighth win in nine games with a 3-1 win over the Phillies on Tuesday night at Comerica Park. The victory moved Detroit (23-22) over .500 for the first time since May 5. Cabrera's first-inning double to the fence in left-center field scored Cameron Maybin, who took over the leadoff spot with Ian Kinsler out of the lineup, for a 1-0 lead. Cabrera padded the lead with runners on second and third in the sixth, scoring Maybin on a groundout to third before Victor Martinez singled home J.D. Martinez. That was plenty for Verlander, who didn't allow a runner in scoring position after the opening inning. His 10 strikeouts marked his second consecutive game in double digits, his first such streak since 2013. "Pretty much the same as what we've seen the last four starts," Tigers manager Brad Ausmus said. "His fastball's really working for him. He's getting swings and misses on it. He's mixing in his other stuff. His slider was really good, a hard slider tonight, borderline cutter at times. But he was outstanding." Francisco Rodriguez allowed a run in the ninth but closed out the win for his 400th career save.

  • After giving up the Cabrera double, Jeremy Hellickson faced one over the minimum number of batters from that point through the end of the fifth inning. He had six strikeouts during that stretch. The Tigers jumped on him for two runs in the sixth.
  • J.D. Martinez's sixth-inning chopper down the third-base line seemed like an easy out until the hop ate up Franco at third and sent the ball down the left-field line. The double put runners on second and third with nobody out for Cabrera and Victor Martinez, who drove in the runs to give Verlander an insurmountable lead. Phillies manager Pete Mackanin said he thought it was a difficult play for Franco, but it could have been a potential double-play ball, or at least keep a runner out of scoring position. "He got to a certain spot, and he stopped," Mackanin said. "He tried to snag it instead of taking one more step toward it. I don't think he could have gotten in front of it, but he could have gone through the ball instead of stopping and trying to snag it."
  • Cabrera's swinging strike on Hellickson's first-pitch slider in the third was his first swing and miss since last Wednesday. He had swung 34 times since then with either a ball in play, a foul ball or, in one case, a foul tip. Hellickson later finished off Cabrera for the reigning American League batting champion's first strikeout since May 13.

Aaron Nola starts the series finale on Wednesday at 1:10 p.m. ET. Nola allowed a home run for the first time in more than a month his last start against Atlanta -- a pair of them, actually. Despite that, he still lasted seven innings for the seventh time in nine starts.


Solid Outing Despite Loss – Jeremy Hellickson tied a season-long outing Tuesday night in Detroit, going seven innings while allowing three runs on seven hits in a  3-1 Phillies loss to the Tigers. After allowing an RBI double by Miguel Cabrera in the first inning, Hellickson settled into a groove, facing one over the minimum number of batters from that point through the end of the fifth inning. He struck out six batters during that span, not allowing another baserunner to reach scoring position until the sixth. "I thought I was good tonight," Hellickson said. "I just made a mistake to Cabrera that first inning. I was able to settle in a little bit, I got some easy outs and kept the pitch count down." Hellickson gave up two runs in the sixth, but recorded outs on the final five batters he faced. He left the game having thrown 95 pitches, 63 for strikes. Phillies manager Pete Mackanin said he thought Hellickson did a good job facing what he thinks is the most dangerous lineup in baseball. "I won't say it's the best lineup thus far, but I would say the most dangerous," Mackanin said early on Tuesday. "Just look at the numbers, and it can be daunting." Mackanin was happy with limiting the Tigers' offense to three runs. "Last night and tonight, we were in both games, so I'm happy about that," he said. "Not happy about the outcome, but we played them tough, especially with their lineup." Hellickson, who walked one batter on the night, thought the same as his manager. "It's a good lineup, with power, speed, a lot of good averages," he said. "All you can do is try and make pitches, and keep the ball on the ground." Hellickson responded to Cabrera's deep liner in the first inning by striking him out in the third inning, warranting a thumbs up and a helmet bounce from Cabrera. But the Tigers' slugger came back in the sixth with a chopper to third base that was mishandled by Maikel Franco. "Like I said, I made that mistake in the first inning, leaving it right over the middle of the plate," Hellickson said, "and second and third, no outs with him up again, in a 1-0 game, just trying to keep [the baserunners] both out there, but that's tough with him at bat."

Today In Phils History – Something you never want to see happened to Phillies pitcher Bill Hubbell on this day in 1922 as he was struck in the head with a batted ball suffering a skull fracture and concussion as a result. At the end of the decade, in 1929, Homer Peel hit into a triple play against Brooklyn exactly one week after Lefty O’Doul hit into a triple play against the Dodgers. In 1941, Dodger Pete Reiser got his revenge against Phillies pitcher Ike Pearson as he hit an inside the park grand slam in his first plate appearance against the pitcher since he was beaned in April (Note that in 2011 this play was used in the background of a scene from the movie “Captain America”). 10 years later, the Phillies fared better against Willie Mays who went 0-5 in his major league debut. While the Phillies made it all the way to the World Series in 1983, they did have a few rough spots throughout the season one of which was a steak of 42 2/3 innings without scoring a run which ended on this day by a homerun by Gary Matthews. Speaking of homeruns, on this day in 1990, Charlie Hayes hit a 3 run homerun to give the Phillies the win and first place in the standings for the first time since 1984. They fell from the top spot with a loss the following day. 5 years ago there was an interesting bit of history as starting second baseman Wilson Valdez was called on to take the mound in the 19th inning. He ended up being the first position player to start the game in the field and earn the win on the mound since Babe Ruth 90 years prior. Speaking of pitching, it was on this day 2 years ago (one of the last great moments in a solid career) that the Dodgers’ Josh Beckett no hit the Phillies. And, finally, I would like to wish a happy 50th birthday to the most intense player in Phillies history, Dave Hollins!

The Phillies are currently 25-21 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 39-53-0 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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