Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Phillies Can’t Tame Cubs

GAME RECAP: Cubs Beat Phillies 6-4

Maybe June will be kinder to Jason Heyward. The Cubs' right fielder hit a two-run home run to right field in the fourth inning Monday night in a 6-4 victory over the Phillies at Citizens Bank Park. Heyward entered the month with just one home run, but he has homered twice in the first week of June. With the win, the Cubs become the fastest team to reach 40 wins since the 2001 Mariners, who are tied for the most regular-season wins in MLB history (116) with the 1906 Cubs. "We just kept the proverbial grinding out of the at-bats," Cubs manager Joe Maddon said. "We scored enough runs, we caught the ball on defense. We've had great starting pitching. You score six runs and have to fasten your seat belts in the ninth." Freddy Galvis saved the Phillies from their third shutout of the season when he ripped a three-run homer to right field in the ninth inning off Justin Grimm. It snapped a 0-for-22 streak for Galvis. Tommy Joseph followed with a solo homer to center against Hector Rondon to make it a two-run game, before the Cubs closer retired three straight Phils to seal the win. "That was like two different innings, the first eight innings and the ninth," Phillies manager Pete Mackanin said. "It was good to see the guys fight back." "That's why they call them the Phitin' Phils, right?" Maddon joked.

  • Mackanin indicated before the game that left-hander Adam Morgan needed to start pitching better to keep his job in the rotation. Morgan allowed three runs in six innings, which might have helped his cause. Two of the runs Morgan allowed came on Heyward's fourth-inning homer. "You can't really look into that," Morgan said about any sense of urgency before the start. "You look into that, you take away your game plan."
  • Joseph started his sixth consecutive game at first base and he singled to left field in the seventh against Lester, before he hit a solo homer to center in the ninth off Rondon. Joseph is hitting .375 (9-for-24) with one double, two home runs and three RBIs since Mackanin said he planned to give Joseph the opportunity to earn the everyday job over Ryan Howard. "I've just stuck to my approach every day," Joseph said. "The swing feels comfortable."
  • "When you're walking to school and every time you take the road to school there's a big tough guy that beats you up and takes your lunch money, after a while I think you're going to take a different route. Likewise, the hitters have to figure it out. 'I'm not going to keep doing what I'm doing. That guy is not going to beat me up and take my money anymore. I'm going to go around him.'" -- Mackanin, on Phillies' hitters making the same mistakes at the plate.
  • Fowler led off the first with a double, and Bryant followed it up with a blast to right. The ball bounced back into the field of play, and Bryant turned for third. He made it, but was sent back to second base after a crew-chief review determined a fan in the right-field seats touched the ball. Despite losing a base, Bryant still earned an RBI, as Fowler was awarded home on the ground-rule double. The review was a lengthy one, lasting 4 minutes, 48 seconds.
  • Fowler was involved -- more directly -- in a second replay review in the eighth inning. Andrew Bailey went up and in with an 0-1 fastball that tailed into the handle of Fowler's bat. Umpires ruled that Fowler was hit by the pitch, but the Phillies challenged to no avail. Mackanin is now 11-for-21 on challenges this season.
  • A fan sitting near the Cubs' dugout got hit in the side by a bat that slipped out of Galvis' hands in the third inning. She left the field under her own power and is said to be OK.
  • Phillies center fielder Odubel Herrera went 4-for-5 Sunday against Milwaukee, but was not in Monday's lineup. "He's got tight legs and he needs a day off, I think," Mackanin said. "A good time to do it."
Howard is expected to start at first base Tuesday night against the Cubs at Citizens Bank Park at 7:05 p.m. ET. It will be his first start since May 31, as Mackanin benched Howard last week in favor of Joseph. Mackanin said he could make a decision about how he will use Howard and Joseph going forward in the next few days. Jerad Eickhoff will take the ball for the Phillies.


Rookie Stays Hot – Tommy Joseph not only has become the Phillies' first baseman recently, he has also become the Scorpion. He is surprised as anybody to learn he has a new nickname, but he is not going to argue with veteran teammate Ryan Howard about it. During pregame stretch recently, Howard asked his teammates where they were from. Joseph said he hailed from Arizona and Howard immediately blurted out the name of the eight-legged, double-pincered arachnid that seems to find its way into every home and hotel room in the desert state. "Before games we do a high-five and a little scorpion thing," Joseph said after Monday night's 6-4 loss to the Cubs at Citizens Bank Park, raising his hand over his head like a scorpion about to strike its prey. "Trust me, it caught me by surprise. Whatever they want to call me works. If he wants to roll with the Scorpion, let's roll with it." Joseph went 2-for-4 with a single off Cubs left-hander Jon Lester in the seventh inning and a solo homer against closer Hector Rondon in the ninth. He is hitting .375 (9-for-24) with one double, two home runs and three RBIs in his six consecutive starts since Phillies manager Pete Mackanin benched Howard. Joseph and Howard have been good together, despite the incessant talk about Howard's role and future with the team. Last week, Howard gave Joseph a pep talk immediately following the news that Mackanin planned to play Joseph. Howard spoke highly again of Joseph before Monday's game. "Tommy's been great, man," Howard said. "He's had great at-bats. Really just taking it all in stride. He's been doing a great job." Mackanin said Howard will start Tuesday night against Cubs right-hander Kyle Hendricks, but he acknowledged it is tough to sit Joseph on a team starved for offense. "It's very tough," he said. "Even if I do stay with Joseph more often, I still have to keep [Howard] sharp and give him an opportunity to hit to do something for us." But the Scorpion should be back in the lineup Wednesday. "The Scorpion," said Howard, sounding unconvinced that he likes the nickname himself. "We'll work on it. We'll work on it. He likes it right now. But, yeah, he's been great, man."

Adjusting To His New Role – Phillies first baseman Ryan Howard remains a hot topic of conversation, partly because of his iconic status in franchise history, partly because his role on the team remains uncertain, partly because reporters keep asking about him, and partly because a fan threw a beer bottle at him Saturday at Citizens Bank Park. Howard said Monday he is trying his best not to become a disturbance in the Phillies' clubhouse. "I don't want to be a distraction for the other 24 guys in here," he said. "Because to me, it's always been about playing baseball, and that's it. So I have to take care of what I have to take care of, and I don't want to bring any extra burdens on these guys. Because they work hard, I know how hard they work. They don't deserve it." Phillies manager Pete Mackanin benched Howard last week in favor of Tommy Joseph, who has done well since being given the chance to play every day. Mackanin said Howard will start Tuesday night's game against the Cubs but will make a decision about how he will handle Joseph and Howard going forward "in the near future." "The whole thing is delicate," Mackanin said. "A lot of it concerns me. I'm sure [Howard is] not happy with the position he's in. I'm not happy about it. We've got to do something at some point, see what happens. It's not a lot of fun." "It's newsworthy, noteworthy, all of that kind of stuff," Howard said. "As long as you try to make it [that way]. For me, I don't focus on all of that stuff. I understand it's going to be news and people are going to talk about it or whatever, but I'm not trying to put my focus there; I'm trying to put my focus on what I need to do to get back to where I need to be to be able to play and play at a high level." Howard is still upset that a fan threw an empty bottle at him. The Philadelphia Police Department is investigating the situation, looking at video and photographs of the alleged bottle thrower. "To do what I've done in this city playing, I don't care how bad somebody thinks I'm playing," he said. "It's uncalled for. You shouldn't do it. You shouldn't do it, period."

Considering All The Options – Phillies amateur scouting director Johnny Almaraz has studied every Draft since the A's selected Rick Monday with the first overall pick in in the first Draft in 1965. Almaraz is looking for trends. He is looking for any edge that can help the Phillies take the best possible player with the first overall pick in this year's Draft, which begins at 7 p.m. Thursday. Sources said last week the Phillies are leaning toward a hitter. If that happens, the hitter is expected to sign for less than the $9,015,000 allotted for the top pick, which would allow the Phillies to spend more money and sign more talented players in the later rounds. "We're narrowing things down now, hopefully a few hours before the (Draft) we'll be pretty much on target with who we want," Almaraz said. Mercer University outfielder Kyle Lewis, who is a potential No. 1 pick, worked out Monday at Citizens Bank Park. More players are scheduled to work out Tuesday and Wednesday. Other hitters in the mix for the top pick include La Costa Canyon High School (Calif.) outfielder Mickey Moniak, Louisville outfielder Corey Ray, Chaminade College Prep (Calif.) outfielder Blake Rutherford and Tennessee third baseman Nick Senzel. Many still believe the Phillies will take Florida left-hander A.J. Puk. Almaraz declined to tip his hand, but he offered a few ideas about what the Phillies want in their No. 1 pick. He said they are not looking for a player that can be fast tracked to the big leagues. In other words, the Phillies are looking for the player with the best talent and the highest ceiling, regardless of how long it takes him to make the big leagues. Of course, knowing there is no consensus No. 1 pick and no player has truly separated himself from the pack, the Phillies also are looking for the best combination of talent and price tag. A player like Moniak, who could fall to the sixth or seventh overall pick, might be willing to take less money as the No. 1 pick knowing it will still be more money than if he is selected five or six picks later. Recent history has shown those talents have just as much of a chance of being successful as arguably the best overall talent. "If you look back to 2005 and look at the first overall pick and the performers in their class, a lot of the No. 1 picks are eight, nine, 10 as far as performance is based," Almaraz said. "A lot of guys that were taken between the fifth and 20th pick have outperformed the No. 1. We're doing our job to take the best player with the best ability. But knowing that, it's helped me widen the range of prospects as far as we're concerned at No. 1." Almaraz said an ideal scenario is the Phillies get a hitter and a pitcher with their first two picks. The Phillies also have the 42nd overall pick. They are hoping to get a first-round level talent with that second-round pick, having used some of the money saved at No. 1 to sign somebody of more talent.

Today In Phils History – While Jack McFetridge turned in an impressive 5-hitter for the Phillies in his 1890 major league debut he did not pitch again in the majors until 1903 and earned only one more win in his career. On the other end of the spectrum, in 1950 Richie Ashburn started the first game of a streak that would last 730 games. Later in the decade, in 1957, while Don Money was celebrating his 10th birthday, Jack Sanford tied a team record striking out 13 in a 1-0 victory over Chicago. Nearly a decade later, in 1966, on the same day that Heathcliff Slocumb was born, Jim Bunning recorded 14 strikeouts in his 8th straight start without a loss. Speaking of strikeouts, it was on this day in 1983 when Steve Carlton passed Nolan Ryan to take the all-time strikeout lead, a record which would exchange hands numerous times during the next 2 seasons until Ryan pulled ahead for good in September 1984. 5 years later, with the team having fallen from the NL elite, GM Woody Woodward was fired by team president Bill Giles after only 7 months on the job. While he never did make it to the majors, Pete Zamora can claim that he pitched a perfect game in professional baseball as he achieved the truncated, 7-inning, feat with AA-Reading in 2000. 3 years later, the Phillies recognized the frequently overlooked career of Sherry Magee by inducting him into the Phillies Wall of Fame.

The Phillies are currently 28-30 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 48-48-0 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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