Saturday, June 18, 2016

Phillies Open New Series With A Loss

GAME RECAP: D-Backs Demolish Phils 10-2 

The D-backs tied a franchise record with six home runs -- including two each from Peter O'Brien and Yasmany Tomas -- and got a solid start from Robbie Ray to beat the Phillies, 10-2, on Friday night at Citizens Bank Park. "There's no way to sugarcoat that," Phillies manager Pete Mackanin said. His team, for the second night in a row, allowed at least 10 runs, 16 hits and committed three or more errors. Arizona catcher Welington Castillo and Paul Goldschmidt also homered for the D-backs, who pounded out 16 hits. It was the first time Arizona hit six homers in a game since June 20, 2012. Ray, meanwhile, allowed two runs on seven hits over six innings to win his second straight start. "You know if you get the barrel of the bat on the ball in this ballpark, you've got a chance," D-backs manager Chip Hale said. "One thing, when you get some runs, we preach it, 'Let's keep the line moving. Don't let the other team feel like they can come back in the game.'" The Phillies grabbed a 2-0 lead in the first inning when Cameron Rupp's two-out triple off the wall in right-center scored Cody Asche and Tommy Joseph. Philadelphia committed three errors, however, which led to three unearned runs. "More times than not, they're going to make those plays," Morgan said. "That's no excuse for how the ballgame went."

  • Two Cesar Hernandez errors in the second extended the inning and allowed the first two D-backs to cross the plate. First, Hernandez couldn't grab a slow roller that got past Morgan, putting Ray on first and Jake Lamb high-fiving teammates in the dugout. On the next play, Hernandez let a Jean Segura grounder roll under his glove and through his legs into the outfield grass, bringing home Nick Ahmed. The Phillies' seventh error in the last two games came after Morgan caught Michael Bourn in a rundown between second and third, but Joseph dropped the ball on a tag. Bourn came around to score on an O'Brien home run the next at-bat. "I'm not going to criticize guys for making physical errors," Mackanin said. "Mental mistakes I have a problem with, but physical errors I don't. I don't like them, but it's part of it. You strike out, I'm not gonna criticize you. You make an error, I'm not gonna criticize you. I wish you didn't strike out or make an error, but it just is what it is." Hernandez was unavailable to comment after the game. His seven errors at second base trail only the Reds' Brandon Phillips, who has nine.
  • The Phillies have allowed 23 runs over their last two games. Of those, 15 have come off the long ball. The D-backs left the yard six times Friday, marking the second straight game the Phillies have allowed at least five home runs. They're the first team since the 2012 Cubs to allow such a feat. Over their last four games, the Phillies' opponents have 17 blasts -- a franchise record for most home runs allowed over a four-game span.
  • Something about playing the Phillies brings out the best in Tomas. Last year, he hit his first Major League home run at Citizens Bank Park and was 8-for-15 with two homers against the Phillies. Friday, he picked up where he left off, going 2-for-5 with a pair of homers, the second multi-homer game of his career. "Every time I go out at a park, this one or any other, I feel good, with good confidence," Tomas said. "For me, I never will forget that here was my first home run, so that's why I believe I have more confidence here than in other parks."
  • "So much for my team meeting." -- Mackanin, on the meeting he called after Thursday's 13-2 loss.
Jerad Eickhoff (4-8, 3.40) will look to continue a roll of his own in Saturday's matinee at 3:05 p.m. ET. He owns a 1.37 ERA over his last three starts. The Phillies are in need of another strong outing from Eickhoff, having lost 21 of their last 27 games. Their starters have an ERA of 8.45 over their last eight.


Hitters Too Comfortable – Phillies manager Pete Mackanin's team meeting Thursday didn't have its desired effect. A night after allowing 13 runs, 17 hits and committing four errors against the Blue Jays, the Phillies gave up another 10, 16 and three, respectively, in a 10-2 loss to the D-backs at Citizens Bank Park on Friday. "There's no way to sugarcoat that," Mackanin said as he began his postgame news conference. The struggles of the Phillies' pitching staff know no bounds. Across two countries, from American to National League, Blue Jays and D-backs, Phillies pitchers have allowed 17 home runs over their last four games -- a franchise record for a team that is baseball's oldest to keep the same nickname and city. Mackanin believes they didn't challenge Toronto hitters inside enough. He saw Cameron Rupp set up inside on multiple occasions only to have to reach across the plate to catch the pitch outside. He saw a similar pattern from Adam Morgan in Friday's loss. "We're just making a lot of bad pitches, over the plate, up in the zone," Mackanin said. "[Morgan's] got to keep the ball down in the zone and locate on the inner part of the plate. He tried to locate, but he didn't get the ball in enough." Earlier in the week, Mackanin inferred the lack of offense could be getting to his pitchers. After Friday's game, he didn't discount the effect seven errors in two games can have on a pitcher. Add it all up, and the Phillies' staff is pitching without tenacity. Be it a lack of command or confidence, they're not attacking hitters like they were to start the season. Reliever Elvis Araujo gave up three homers, including back-to-back solo shots from Welington Castillo and Peter O'Brien in the seventh inning. "That's one thing we need to work on," Morgan said. "Just making hitters uncomfortable, not necessarily doing anything irrational, but you have to throw on both sides of the plate." Morgan exited after giving up seven runs (four earned) over 4 1/3 innings. Although Mackanin said Morgan was leaving his pitches up all night, he had yet to allow an earned run until the fourth and tied his career high with eight strikeouts. The two unearned runs in the second came on two Cesar Hernandez errors. One, he unsuccessfully tried to barehand a ball for a play at the plate. The other, he let a ground ball go right through his legs. Hernandez was not available for comment after the game. "I'm not going to criticize guys for making physical errors," Mackanin said. "Mental mistakes I have a problem with, but physical errors I don't. I don't like them, but it's part of it. You strike out, I'm not gonna criticize you. You make an error, I'm not gonna criticize you. I wish you didn't strike out or make an error, but it just is what it is." But it is those errors that cost teams ballgames, especially teams that have lost 21 of their last 27. It is also those errors -- and those strikeouts -- that can begin to affect the one cog that was working on a once surprising team.

Patient Development – A few injured Phillies are progressing and could rejoin the club in the coming weeks. Any prospect reinforcements, however, are likely further away. General manager Matt Klentak dismissed the notion that big leaguers are being evaluated with prospects like J.P. Crawford and Nick Williams in mind. pegs Crawford as the No. 3 prospect in baseball, while Williams checks in at No. 58. They are ranked as the Phillies' Nos. 1 and 3 prospects, respectively. "We recognize with J.P. that he's 21 years old, he just got to Triple-A a month ago and he's still very much in the development phase of his career," Klentak said before Friday's game against the D-backs. "Nick's 22 years old in Triple-A. He and J.P. both are among the youngest in that entire league." Crawford, in a month with Lehigh Valley, has struggled, posting a .556 OPS through his first 24 games and 90 at-bats. On Wednesday, Crawford had his best game since being promoted, going 3-for-3 with a pair of doubles. Williams, after getting off to a slow start, has improved of late. He's hitting .284 with seven home runs in 215 at-bats, though he still has a 60/15 strikeout-to-walk ratio. IronPigs manager Dave Brundage benched Williams the past two games for showing a lack of hustle. He didn't directly consult with Klentak on the decision, but the Phils' GM was aware and doesn't believe it will be an issue going forward. "I think Dave has handled it very well, and I think Nick has handled it very well," Klentak said. "Water under the bridge." Klentak is in no rush to get players to the show. He needs to see them develop and, preferably, he said, get a full season's worth of at-bats at one level. Williams spent all of 2015 at Double-A. Between 2015 and '16, Crawford got close to 500 ABs with Reading. There are scenarios, though rare, in which a player can force a promotion. Dylan Cozens, rated by as the Phillies' No. 22 prospect, could be making that case at Double-A Reading. He's torn the cover off the ball all season, slugging 19 home runs in 252 at-bats while maintaining a .294 average. Still, Klentak said there are no imminent plans to promote Cozens to Triple-A.

DL Updates – Dalier Hinojosa, who has been sidelined since April 30 with a bruised right hand, threw a 30-pitch live BP session in Clearwater on Friday. He is expected to begin a rehab assignment at Clearwater next week. … Aaron Altherr is "feeling great … making progress every day" and is still on schedule for a late-season return. He is recovering from surgery on his left wrist, which he injured in Spring Training. …Vince Velasquez has bullpen sessions scheduled for Friday and Sunday, though the Phillies are not rushing him back. With nothing serious showing in his right arm on his MRI, the Phillies are taking his DL stint as an opportunity to limit his innings -- something that would have happened later in the season, regardless.

Roster Shuffle – Following Thursday's 13-2 loss to the Blue Jays, the Phillies optioned reliever Colton Murray to Triple-A Lehigh Valley. In need of fresh bullpen arms, they recalled Severino Gonzalez in a corresponding move prior to Friday's game. "We needed an arm, Murray threw three days in a row," manager Pete Mackanin said. "We got into a little bit of a rut where we were going to the bullpen a bit, so we needed a fresh arm. Hopefully we won't need one after today." Gonzalez transitioned from the rotation into the bullpen this season. In 44 innings between Double- and Triple-A, Gonzalez has posted a 3.07 ERA with 34 strikeouts to eight walks. Murray was recalled when Hinojosa was placed on the DL. In 23 innings, he had a 4.30 ERA. He allowed all three runners he inherited in Thursday's loss to score.

Today In Phils History – Today is one of departures and arrivals for the Phillies. It began in 1898 when manager George Stallings is fired and replaced by club secretary Bill Shettsline. 50 years later, Robin Roberts made his MLB debut giving up 2 runs over eight inning but taking the loss against the Pirates. But, for now, back to the managers, at least a future manager, Dallas Green made his MLB debut with the Phillies on this day in 1960. In 1987, before a game against the Cubs, the Phillies fired manager John Felske and replaced him with coach Lee Elia, a former Cubs skipper and Philadelphia native. Elia’s successor, Nick Leyva, was at the helm during the Phillies fire sale in 1989 when they traded 1987 Cy Young Winner Steve Bedrosian to San Francisco for Terry Mulholland, Dennis Cook and Charlie Hayes and traded All Star leadoff hitter to the Mets for Lenny Dykstra, Roger McDowell, and a player to be named. Of course there were also a few interesting moments on the field as well beginning in 1927 when Phillies Jimmie Wilson and Fresco Thompson both steal home in the same inning (the 8th). Another player not known for his speed, Bo Diaz, also swiped home on this day in 1982. 15 years later another catcher (at least former catcher) entered the Phillies record books when Darren Daulton, in a matchup against the Red Sox, became the first Phillies DH to hit a homerun.

The Phillies are currently 30-38 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 42-55-0 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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