Thursday, June 23, 2016

Phillies Tie Ferris At Nine!

GAME RECAP: Twins Top Phillies 6-5 

Max Kepler was in danger of being the goat after his two-run fielding error keyed a three-run rally that gave the Phillies a lead in the fifth, but he was instead the hero of a 6-5 Twins victory on Wednesday night after driving in the tying run, the go-ahead run and making a highlight-reel diving catch in the eighth to help preserve the late lead at Target Field. Trevor Plouffe led the way with three hits for the Twins, who did the brunt of their damage against Phillies starter Adam Morgan in the fifth on a two-run triple by Eduardo Escobar and Kepler's game-tying single. Escobar and Robbie Grossman each had two hits and a run scored, as every Minnesota starter hit safely in a 13-hit outburst. "We came back tonight, and I thought we swung the bats well," said Twins manager Paul Molitor. "We didn't capitalize too much. We left some people out there, but we got some hits with runners in scoring position. "It was one of those games where we had to fight. They put together a big inning. ... But overall, we'll take the win. We had to grind to get it, but we found a way to get it done." After hitting four home runs in Tuesday's series opener, the Phillies continued to do damage with the long ball on Wednesday, tagging Twins starter Kyle Gibson for two homers in his six innings of work. Cameron Rupp went yard for the second straight game with an opposite-field solo shot in the second, and Andres Blanco homered in the third as part of a three-hit evening. "We're going to come back from the dead, but now we're at the bottom," Phillies manager Pete Mackanin said about the team's nine-game losing streak. "We're going to climb out, that I'm pretty sure of. But right now is the time I've got to figure out a way to keep them motivated without being too harsh."

  • Mackanin said Morgan needed a good start to prove he should stay in the rotation, with Vince Velasquez's return from the 15-day disabled list looming, but the lefty struggled. Morgan allowed 11 hits, five runs (four earned runs), one walk and struck out three in five innings. "Yeah, there's not much I have to say," Morgan said. "The only thing I know to do is to keep going. You go through these times and the only way to get out of them is to keep going." 
  • The Phillies' bullpen is very thin, following a 14-10 loss Tuesday and Morgan pitching only five innings Wednesday. Compounding its problems, right-hander Andrew Bailey left the game after just one inning because of a strained left hamstring. He will be reevaluated Thursday and is day to day. "I didn't feel anything pop or pull or anything like that," Bailey said. "I just kind of felt fatigued after that. I don't think it's anything serious. I think it should be fine."
  • Velasquez pitched five innings in a rehab start Wednesday with Double-A Reading. He allowed two hits, one run, one walk and struck out three. Velasquez is hopeful it will be his only rehab start and that he will rejoin the Phillies' rotation next week. 
  • The Phillies have lost nine consecutive games, matching their longest losing streak since 1999, when they had an 11-game losing streak in September. The Phillies also have lost 26 of their last 32 games. It is their worst 32-game stretch since a 6-26 run in '99.
  • Phillies catcher Cameron Rupp's average exit velocity on batted balls is an MLB-high 96 mph, according to Statcast.
  • Twins first baseman Joe Mauer has hit safely in 13 of 14 career games against the Phillies.
  • Twins catcher Kurt Suzuki had six RBIs Tuesday to give him 495 in his career. He has the most RBIs among Hawaiian-born players, moving past former Phillies favorite Shane Victorino (489).

Phillies right-hander Jared Eickhoff has been on a roll, and he hopes to keep it going in Wednesday afternoon's series finale against Ricky Nolasco and the Twins at Target Field. Eickhoff is 2-2 with a 2.13 ERA in four starts in June. He has allowed 22 hits, eight walks and has struck out 23 in 25 1/3 innings. The Twins counter with Nolasco, who has a long history against the Phillies. He is 8-6 with a 3.75 ERA in 22 appearances (19 starts) against Philadelphia, although he won't recognize too many folks in this Phillies lineup. Other than Ryan Howard and Carlos Ruiz, who are in reserve roles these days, he has not faced a Phillies batter more than six times.


On The Bubble – Hours before Phillies left-hander Adam Morgan threw a pitch on Wednesday night at Target Field, an inquiring mind asked Phillies manager Pete Mackanin about Vince Velasquez's seemingly imminent return from the 15-day disabled list. Did Morgan need a big start against the Twins with Velasquez's return looming? "Yes," Mackanin said bluntly. But Morgan struggled in a 6-5 loss. He allowed 11 hits, five runs (four earned), one walk and struck out three in five innings against a Twins team that entered night 25th in baseball with an average of 4.03 runs per game. Morgan is 1-6 with a 6.55 ERA in 11 starts. "It wasn't a good start," Mackanin said. "Eleven hits in five innings. … I don't know what to say. I'm not happy with his performance and we'll talk about everything with Matt [Klentak, GM] tonight, and hopefully have something for you tomorrow." Morgan joined the Phillies' rotation in April when Charlie Morton suffered a season-ending hamstring injury. He got the nod because he pitched well in Spring Training - narrowly losing the No. 5 job in a tight competition with Velasquez -- and because he pitched competently last season, posting a 4.48 ERA in 15 starts. But with Morgan's continued struggles this season, the Phillies might decide to give rookie right-hander Zach Eflin a longer look. Eflin, who is the organization's No. 13 prospect according to, joined the rotation when the Phillies placed Velasquez on the DL earlier this month with a strained right biceps. "That's something you have to deal with," Morgan said. "You can't really think about it. I know that I haven't been doing my job, and I need to get better at it." Velasquez might still need another rehab start, although he has insisted in the past week he only needed the one he made Wednesday night with Double-A Reading. Either way, Mackanin is a bit surprised Morgan has looked so wildly different than the pitcher he watched last season and this spring. "Up in the zone, pitch selection is not good," Mackanin said. "I don't know what the plan is right now, but I'm sure I'll talk to Matt. I know Velasquez pitched pretty well today, so we'll just have to see tomorrow. I don't have an answer for you on that."

Locking Up Selections – The Phillies are locking up their Draft picks. They announced Wednesday afternoon they either had agreed to terms or signed right-hander Kevin Gowdy (second round), shortstop Cole Stobbe (third round), left-hander JoJo Romero (fourth round) and outfielder Josh Stephen (11th round). The Phillies on Monday signed No. 1 overall pick Mickey Moniak to a $6.1 signing bonus. The slot value for the No. 1 pick was set at $9.015 million. The Phillies used the savings to pay Gowdy $3.5 million, nearly twice the allotment for the 42nd overall pick, as well as pay other Draft picks over their slot value. Gowdy, 18, had committed to UCLA, but the Phillies paid a high price to lure him away from college because they consider him first-round talent. Stobbe signed for $1.1 million, nearly $300,000 over slot value. Romero signed for $800,000, nearly $250,000 over slot value. Fifth-round pick Cole Irvin, a left-hander from Oregon, is the only Draft pick in the first 10 rounds who has not agreed to terms.

Who Will Represent The Phillies? – Considering pitcher Aaron Nola's recent struggles, Phillies center fielder Odubel Herrera might be the Phillies player with the best shot to make the National League All-Star team. But he is not among the top 15 NL outfielders in votes in the latest Esurance All-Star ballor update, which means he will have to find another way on the team. Herrera entered Wednesday hitting .305 with six doubles, two triples, seven home runs and 24 RBIs. He is eighth in the NL in on-base percentage (.401) and eighth in walks (40). Herrera is 16th among NL outfielders with an .823 OPS. Phillies closer Jeanmar Gomez is fifth in the league with 19 saves, so he could be a candidate to make the team. Nola had been pitching well this season before posting a 15.83 ERA in his last three starts. Fans can cast their votes for starters at and all 30 club sites -- on their computers, tablets and smartphones -- exclusively online using the 2016 Esurance MLB All-Star Game Ballot until Thursday, June 30, at 11:59 p.m. ET. Vote up to five times in any 24-hour period for a maximum of 35 times. Fans may also receive the ballot by texting VOTE to 89269 (USA) or 101010 (Canada). Or text VOTA for a ballot in Spanish. Message and data rates may apply. Up to five messages. No purchase required. Reply STOP to cancel. Reply HELP for info. Following the announcement of the 2016 All-Stars, be sure to return to and cast your 2016 Esurance MLB All-Star Game Final Vote for the final player on each league's All-Star roster. On Tuesday, July 12, watch the 2016 All-Star Game presented by MasterCard live on FOX, and during the game visit to submit your choice for the Ted Williams Most Valuable Player Award presented by Chevrolet via the 2016 MLB All-Star Game MVP Vote. The 87th All-Star Game, in San Diego, will be televised nationally by FOX, in Canada by Rogers Sportsnet and RDS, and worldwide by partners in more than 160 countries via MLB International's independent feed. ESPN Radio and ESPN Radio Deportes will provide national radio coverage of the All-Star Game., MLB Network and SiriusXM will also provide comprehensive All-Star Week coverage. For more information, please visit

Today In Phils History – The grand start for the day begins in 1929 when Phillies pitcher Phil Collins (not the guy from Genesis) hit a grand slam in a loss to Boston. In 1961, the Phillies score 10 runs in the final 2 innings to complete the come from behind win against the Pirates. 2 years later, the Mets Jimmy Piersall celebrated his 100th career homerun (off of Dallas Green) but circling the bases backwards… this would lead to his release 2 days later. Rick Wise fared better against the Reds in 1971 when he became the first pitcher in MLB history to throw a no hitter and hit 2 homeruns in the same game (future Phillie Pete Rose made the last out). Two years later another pitcher was going deep as Ken Brett hit a homerun in his 4th consecutive game. In 1986, the Phillies obliterated the Cubs by a score of 19-1 and hit a team record 11 doubles in the process. And, finally, it was on this day 4 years ago when Jim Thome hit his MLB record 13th walk off homerun of his career against the Rays which secured Charlie Manuel his 900th career managerial win.  

The Phillies are currently 30-43 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 49-56-1 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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