Monday, June 6, 2016

Phillies Split Series With Brewers

GAME RECAP: Phillies Dominate Brewers 8-1

Aaron Nola danced into and out of trouble for six of the busiest scoreless innings you'll see, and Jimmy Paredes and Cameron Rupp hit back-to-back home runs in the Phillies' biggest inning of the season. They thumped the Brewers on Sunday, 8-1, in the finale of a four-game series at Citizens Bank Park. The Brewers put a runner on base in each of Nola's six innings, including multiple runners with fewer than two outs in four of those frames. But Milwaukee went hitless with eight strikeouts in 10 at-bats with runners in scoring position against Nola, who struck out nine overall to match his career high for the third time this season. He has nine straight quality starts, matching Madison Bumgarner for the longest such streak in the Majors this season. "I told the infielders I was gonna give them a 1-2-3 inning one time," Nola said. "It didn't happen. … I battled hard and kept the team in the game, which is the most important part." Maikel Franco, Paredes and Rupp all homered for the Phillies, Franco off struggling Brewers starter Wily Peralta and Paredes and Rupp after Peralta was replaced by Neil Ramirez in a five-run fifth. It marked the first time all season that the Phillies scored more than three runs in a single frame. "When a pitcher gets a ball up in the zone, we want to attack it," Phillies manager Pete Mackanin said. "Up until today, we haven't seen enough of that. Hopefully this is the start of something big for us."

  • The Phillies broke the game wide open as Paredes and Rupp went yard back-to-back in the fifth. The five runs turned a 3-0 game into 8-0 and are the most the Phils have scored in an inning this season -- almost two full runs more than their nine-inning average. Odubel Herrera led off the inning by diving safely into first base for one of his four hits. He scored on a Tommy Joseph double, which almost gave Philadelphia three straight dingers but after review was ruled a double due to fan interference. It was the first time the Phillies have hit back-to-back home runs since Aug. 22, 2015 and comes just one game after Philadelphia homered twice in the same inning for the first time this season. "We know we can do that, and we showed it," Rupp said. "Now we just have to be consistent with it. The bats are there. Hitting's contagious."
  • Mackanin has said for weeks that he expects his young third baseman to heat up at the plate. After a day of rest Wednesday, it might be happening. Franco hit a solo shot to left in the third inning -- his second long ball since returning to the lineup. In the four games since he sat, Franco is 4-for-14 (.286), while scoring four runs and driving in three. "He still doesn't look like the same guy we saw early in the season or last year," Mackanin said. "Little by little, he's starting to relax a little bit and not get too big. … What he needs to do is not get big and strong. He needs to sneak up on the ball and be short and quick."
  • Nola is one of only five starters this season to surrender at least eight hits but no runs, and only the second to do so in six or fewer innings. Cubs lefty Jon Lesterwas the other, keeping the Pirates at bay on May 4. And Lester and Nola are among the four pitchers to allow 10 or more batters to reach safely, but allow no runs. Brewers pitcher Jimmy Nelson is on the latter list thanks to a five-hit, four-walk outing against the Cubs that included a hit batter.
  • Franco has hit five of his 10 home runs this season against the Brewers. That's the highest total for a Brewers opponent in 2016; the Reds' Adam Duvall and Brandon Phillips have four home runs apiece at Milwaukee's expense.
  • For a few minutes, it appeared Joseph was the Phillie who broke the game open with a three-run home run during the big fifth, but his big fly was overturned after a review by the umpiring crew, who determined that a fan had reached over the fence in right field and interfered with the path of the baseball. Joseph settled for an RBI double, and Parades followed with a big blast that couldn't be overturned.
Philadelphia hosts the Cubs for three games at Citizens Bank Park, beginning Monday at 7:05 ET. The first game of the series will feature a pair of southpaws, with Adam Morgan (1-4, 7.07) starting for the Phils, opposing the Cubs' Jon Lester (6-3, 2.29).


Maturing On The Mound – For Aaron Nola, Sunday's start was unlike any he's ever had. In an 8-1 win over the Brewers, Nola finished with a stat line that only Cubs left-hander Jon Lester has matched this season. He became the second pitcher to allow at least eight hits but no runs in six or fewer innings. Nola also walked two. But no Brewers came around to score on the 23-year-old righty. "He struck out the side in the first after he walked the leadoff hitter and gave up a hit," catcher Cameron Rupp said. "And then he did the same thing again and again and again and again." Not quite, but close. Nola only struck out the side once, but he finished with nine strikeouts. The Brewers had their leadoff hitter reach in two of the first three innings. They had a runner on base every inning against Nola. "I told the infielders I was gonna give them a 1-2-3 inning one time," Nola said. He didn't, but Nola still was impressive -- even if it didn't do any favors for his WHIP, which went up from 0.93 to 1.03. He'd previously ranked fourth in baseball in the department but fell out of the top 10 after Sunday's performance. It's strange to see a pitcher go from hittable to dominant with the snap of a finger, but Nola accomplished that on Sunday. Some of the Brewers' hits came on mistake pitches, Nola said, but others were just good as pitches put in play. The right-hander bouncing back from each hit not to allow a run speaks to his poise on the mound. "Nothing fazes him out there," Rupp said. "He's got a demeanor that he just knows he's going to get them out." "He just never loses his composure," manager Pete Mackanin said. "First and second, one out. Second and third with two outs. You would never detect any panic or fear in him." By putting runners on base each inning, Nola elevated his pitch count early. Mackanin -- in his one critic of his starting pitcher -- said he'd have liked to see Nola go one more inning, but "he had a few too many pitches." Still, Nola made it through six shutout innings. That was good enough for him to record his ninth straight quality start and his 10th in 12 starts this season. Only Clayton Kershaw has more.

Offensive Awakening – At a glance, it would be easy to mistake this Phillies team for its predecessors 40 year ago on Sunday. With Mike Schmidt and Greg Luzinski in the house at Citizens Bank Park, the Phils broke out their throwback threads. Even 1976's 101-win team would have had difficulty keeping up with the offense from the 2016 incarnation during Sunday's 8-1win over the Brewers. There was so much production up and down the lineup card that manager Pete Mackanin had to bring a cheat sheet to the podium for his postgame news conference. "So I wouldn't forget anybody," Mackanin joked. And he didn't. Mackanin noted home runs from Cameron Rupp, Jimmy Paredes and Maikel Franco. He praised Odubel Herrera's 4-for-5 day -- the second four-hit game of his career. He also didn't forget Tommy Joseph's near-home run. After intentionally walking Franco to get to Joseph in the fifth inning, the 24-year-old first baseman put a 1-2 fastball from Brewers starter Wily Peralta over the right field wall. But it wasn't all his doing. Replay showed a fan reaching over the wall, negating the homer and putting Joseph at second and Herrera across the plate, with the first of five runs the Phillies scored in the frame. No review was necessary to determine if Paredes had left the yard four pitches later. His mammoth shot to right landed nearly 20 rows back. The three-run homer blew the game open, but Rupp wanted to leave his mark, as well. He put a 93-mph fastball over the left-field wall for an even more monstrous blast, giving the Phillies their fifth run of the inning and eighth of the game. "We know we can do that, and we showed it," Rupp said. "Now we just have to be consistent with it. The bats are there. Hitting's contagious." The only position player who started Sunday's game to not get a hit was Freddy Galvis, but even he contributed to the onslaught. "Freddy didn't get any hits, but in the first inning, he got that run in from third base, then he bunted that guy to third," Mackanin said. "Those little things lead to runs, and I just wanted to give him a shout out for that." It was the first time the Phillies had hit back-to-back bombs since Aug. 22, 2015, when Aaron Altherr and Darin Ruf did so in a 4-2 win over the Marlins. The five runs in the fifth were the most the Phillies had scored in an inning all season, and the eight total are tied for the second-highest output. The 1976 squad ranked second in baseball -- behind only Cincinnati's Big Red Machine -- with 4.75 runs per game. The 2016 version has had a harder time coming up with offense. By scoring five runs in the fifth, they outscored their full-game output for 45 of the Phillies' 54 games. Mackanin said he would like to establish a consistent lineup, or at least middle of the order. Consistency would help spread the already contagious offense. Back on the 1976 team, of their 162 games, Schmidt hit third in 139 of them and Luzinski fourth in 143. Eight different players have already split time in the two spots on the 2016 squad.

Today In Phils History – We start in 1928 when Cy Williams hit his second homerun in as many pinch hit at bats dating back to June 2. The next decade, in 1937, down by 6 the Phillies delayed the game until it was called due to the 7pm curfew and received the loss and a fine of $100 to manager Jimmie Wilson for their dubious efforts. 2 years later the Phillies released Chuck Klein who, after finishing the season with Pittsburgh, would return to the Phillies in 1940. 20 years after Klein’s release, the Phillies parted ways with another power hitter, Willie Jones. In 1962, the Phillies swept a double header against the Mets giving the new franchise a major league record 17th consecutive loss. 3 years later, the Phillie needed every one of Johnny Callison’s 3 homers in a 10-9 win over the Cubs. Another 2 years passed and the Phillies traded future Hall of Fame broadcaster Bob Uecker to Atlanta. A decade after the Mets debacle, the Phillies nearly matched their futility as, in the midst of a streak of 18 losses in 19 games, they tried to change their luck with "Turn it Around Day" but, despite the quirkiness, lost the game anyway. And finally, in 1990, as Ethan Martin was celebrating his 1st birthday, Von Hayes was collecting 5 walks tying the franchise and NL single game record.  

The Phillies are currently 28-29 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 52-56-1 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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