Monday, June 13, 2016

Former Phillie Foils Comeback

GAME RECAP: Nationals Sweep Phillies 5-4

Call Jayson Werth, Mr. Clutch. His single in the bottom of the ninth inning helped the Nationals edge the Phillies, 5-4, at Nationals Park on Sunday afternoon. The Nationals are now 15 games over .500 and 4 1/2 games ahead of the Mets in the National League East race. The Nationals were down, 4-3, when they rallied to score two runs in the ninth inning off closer Jeanmar Gomez. After Bryce Harper and Danny Espinosa reached on singles and Clint Robinson walked to load the bases, Werth drove a 2-2 pitch up the middle, scoring Harper and Espinosa. The walk-off win completed a three-game sweep for the Nationals, who chased Werth into the outfield in celebration. There was manager Dusty Baker doing his hop, skip and a jump after the winning run scored. Werth was then doused with Gatorade twice. "As a kid, you always want that last at-bat because you can walk off. You are just glad it didn't happen on the road," manager Dusty Baker said. "No matter what he is doing or how he is playing, he has been a clutch man all these years. A clutch man knows how to come through." Said Werth: "You live for those moments. You grew up playing Wiffle ball in the backyard. You always run through those situations. I've been lucky to get those chances during my career. I want to win, I want to help my teammates win and be part of a championship team. Whatever I can do." It looked like the Phillies had the game won when Maikel Franco's homer in the top of the ninth gave them a 4-3 lead. The solo shot came off closer Jonathan Papelbon on a 2-2 pitch that Franco hit into the left-field stands. The Nationals offense started strong against left-hander Adam Morgan, scoring three runs in the first two innings. Espinosa highlighted the scoring with a home run. But Nationals right-hander Joe Ross allowed the Phillies to tie the score by the sixth inning. As Philadelphia came back, Morgan settled down, for what manager Pete Mackanin called "the best I've seen him pitch in two years, after that first inning." "I tried to keep it simple," Morgan said. "I think in the first couple of innings I was trying to be too fine and picky, and that's not who I am."

  • In the fourth inning, Franco appeared to injure his ankle after tripping over a baserunner. After a brief conversation with the training staff, the third baseman stayed in the game. Five innings later, Franco homered to left field off Papelbon to break the tie score. The long ball was a good sign for Franco, who recorded his second multi-hit game, and for a struggling Phillies offense. "We've got to get our offense going," Mackanin said. "Good to see Franco bust out, but the rest of the guys have to give us consistent at-bats."
  • The Nationals were getting good swings against Morgan in the first three innings. But after Chris Heisey was caught trying to steal third base, the Nationals collected one hit and struck out seven times the rest of the way against Morgan.
  • The Phillies fell behind 3-0 in the second inning, and it looked like more of the same for a team that was shut out Saturday and ranks near the bottom of the league in many offensive categories. But Cody Asche homered in the fifth, breaking a team streak of 14 innings without a run, and Philadelphia scored two runs the next inning on three consecutive line drives -- two doubles and a single -- to tie the game at 3. Mackanin was happy to see the Phillies show resilience. "Good to see the guys come back," the manager said. "What a way to lose a game. It was just a tough game to lose."
  • With one out in the ninth, Harper reached base on an infield single, but the Phillies challenged the call and claimed that Harper was out on a close play. After a review, the play stood and Harper would later score on the single by Werth. Joseph said he thought, after seeing the replay, that the umps got the call right, but Mackanin wasn't so sure. "If the side of his foot was touching the base, [Harper] was definitely out, but [Joseph] went back. It's like when a guy tags a guy but then goes back to tag him even though he tagged him the first time, it looks like he didn't," Mackanin said. "I believe, from what I saw on the replays, if he didn't go back with his foot, I believe they would've called him out."
  • Monday's game marks Jimmy Paredes' return to Toronto. Paredes played in seven games for the Blue Jays this season before being traded to Philadelphia for cash considerations.
  • Phillies shortstop Freddy Galvis is 4-for-12 with a home run and a 1.083 slugging percentage against Dickey.
  • Blue Jays right fielder Jose Bautista (right thigh) missed his third consecutive game on Sunday but is expected to return as the designated hitter for Monday's opener.
  • Expect Josh Thole to get the start behind the dish for the second time in three games on Monday. The 29-year-old is Dickey's personal catcher. Thole enters Monday with one hit in 30 at-bats since the end of April.

After completing a four-game set against the American League East-leading Orioles, the Blue Jays welcome the Phillies to town as they begin a home-and-home series on Monday night at Rogers Centre. R.A. Dickey (4-6, 4.15 ERA) will get the ball for the Blue Jays in the opener, as he looks for his third straight victory. The knuckleballer battled his last time out against the Tigers, going 5 1/3 innings while limiting Detroit to two runs in a 7-2 victory. Dickey has plenty of experience pitching against the Phillies thanks to his time with the Mets, and carries a 5-4 record with a 3.03 ERA in 12 starts against Philadelphia. On the opposite end, Jerad Eickhoff takes the mound for the Phillies following a stellar outing in which he held the high-octane Cubs to one run over seven innings. Eickhoff has pitched much better than his record indicates, with eight quality starts in 12 outings this season. On the season, Eickhoff has a 3.68 ERA and an impressive 1.17 WHIP. Ryan Howard, who has lost playing time lately to Joseph, will likely DH. The Evansville, Ind., native will be making his first career appearance against Toronto. The Blue Jays are 27-20 all-time against the Phillies and have gone 9-2 against them since the start of the 2012 season.


Pivotal Replay – When Jeanmar Gomez got Bryce Harper to ground weakly to the right side with one out in the ninth, it appeared the Phillies had cleared their biggest hurdle en route to a victory. But Cesar Hernandez's throw was high, Tommy Joseph's foot landed in the wrong place, and Harper beat out a controversial infield hit. The Nationals then scored two runs for a walk-off win, 5-4. Harper's hit drew Hernandez to his left, and though the second baseman gathered the ball without difficulty, his throw sailed slightly high. Joseph jumped for the ball and came down beside first base, then, fearing he wasn't making contact with the bag, stuck his foot backward. He missed the bag with that lunge, and Harper was called safe. The Phillies challenged the call, but a replay review upheld it. Phillies manager Pete Mackanin speculated that Joseph's second effort might have cost the Phillies. "I believe, from what I saw on the replays, if he didn't go back with his foot, I believe they would've called [Harper] out," Mackanin said. "If the side of his foot was touching the base, he was definitely out, but he went back, it's like when a guy tags a guy but then goes back to tag him even though he tagged him the first time, it looks like he didn't." Joseph drew a different conclusion from watching the same replay on the center-field video board. "I think they got the call right," the first baseman said. "I wasn't sure. It was too close. I couldn't feel it. Obviously if I couldn't feel it, that's why I went back." Danny Espinosa followed with a single, and after a Ben Revere lineout, Gomez walked Clint Robinson to load the bases. That brought up Werth, who poked a 2-2 fastball up the middle for a walk-off single. The rally might not have occurred if Hernandez and Joseph could have converted Harper's grounder. Joseph is relatively inexperienced at first base, having begun playing there regularly last season after spending most of his Minor League career behind the plate. Of course, the play would have been difficult for any first baseman, given the high throw. Harper was credited with a hit on the play, but it could have been ruled an E-4. "Cesar, I'm sure, feels worse than anybody here," Mackanin said. "It's a shame, but we can't afford to make mistakes. We've got to make clean plays to win."

Today In Phils History – There are a couple of interesting games that occurred on this day beginning in 1918 when the Phillies and St. Louis, tied at 8, proceeded to enter a pitching duel that would last until the 19th inning when the game was called a tie. In 1945, the Phillies lost the first game of a double header to Boston seemingly securing their 16th consecutive loss which was later nullified when they won a suspended game from earlier in the month when it was concluded in July. Lastly, it was 9 year ago today when Kyle Kendrick made his major league debut with the Phillies.

The Phillies are currently 29-34 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 48-49-2 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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