Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Phils Dominate D-Backs In Velasquez’s Return

GAME RECAP: Phillies Shutout Diamondbacks 8-0

When the Phillies hosted the D-backs for four games a week ago, their offense struggled. That certainly wasn't the case Monday night in the series opener of a three-game set between the two teams at Chase FIeld. Philadelphia pounded out 16 hits in an 8-0 win. Maikel Franco had three RBIs, Cesar Hernandez drove in a pair of runs, and Odubel Herrera collected four hits at the top of the order. The Phillies scored more runs than they did in that four-game series against the D-backs (five runs). "This whole road trip, starting in Minnesota, then in San Francisco, we've been swinging the bats very well, which is very nice to see," Phillies manager Pete Mackanin said. "It was a good game for us all the way around." Vince Velasquez (6-2) picked up the win in his first start off the disabled list, as the Phillies won for the third time in five games, but for just the fourth time in their past 19. He struck out seven over five innings. D-backs starter Robbie Ray (4-7) lost for the second straight start, allowing four earned runs on nine hits in six-plus innings. Arizona was shut out for the fourth time this season and fell to 13-26 at Chase Field -- the second-worst home record in the Majors. "They just beat us tonight," D-backs outfielder Michael Bourn said. "No way around it. We'll be back tomorrow, though."

  • After five scoreless innings, the Phillies pieced together a pair of runs in the top of the sixth. Herrera and Peter Bourjos started the inning with consecutive singles, advancing to second and third on a wild pitch. Franco and Cameron Rupp drove them in with back-to-back RBI singles for a 2-0 lead. "We started off slow against Ray, he's got good stuff, and got to him a bit there," Mackanin said. "It's nice to see the offense coming around, which will hopefully help us turn the corner."
  • Velasquez provided the Phillies with five strong innings in his return from the disabled list. The right-hander made his first start since June 8 -- when he threw just two pitches then went on the DL with a strained right biceps. Velasquez scattered five hits and issued no walks, striking out seven and earning his first win since May 17. It was also the first time he lasted five innings since then, after not going deeper than four in his prior four outings. "I feel really good," Velasquez said. "I felt pretty strong, all the way through I had no hesitation, no doubts, no nothing, just pretty much trusting myself and try to get five innings in and get a 'W.'"
  • "Bourjos is probably the hottest hitter in baseball right now, he's raised his average it seems like 100 points the last three weeks," -- Mackanin, on Bourjos, who went 3-for-5 and is 14-for-27 through the first seven games of this road trip.
  • Mackanin won a challenge in the bottom of the sixth. Bourn was called safe on a steal attempt on the third strike of a Paul Goldschmidt strikeout. However, Bourn came off the bag after the throw from Rupp arrived, while second baseman Hernandez kept his tag applied. The call was overturned after a brief review lasting 1 minute, 2 seconds, and Bourn made the second out of the inning.
  • Eickhoff has faced the D-backs once, and it was his worst outing this month. He allowed three runs in 5 2/3 nnings and took the loss on June 18.
  • Greinke beat the Phillies -- and Eickhoff -- on June 18 with eight innings of one-run ball. In his career, he is 7-1 with a 2.47 ERA against Philadelphia in nine games (eight starts).
  • Only four Philadelphia players have more than eight career at-bats against Greinke -- and their numbers aren't good. Ryan Howard is 4-for-18, Cody Asche is 2-for-14, Carlos Ruiz is 0-for-14, and Freddy Galvis is 0-for-11.

Tuesday's matchup between the Phillies and D-backs features a pair of right-handed starters that are putting together impressive months of June. Philadelphia's Jerad Eickhoff and Arizona's Zack Greinke go head-to-head for the second time in 10 days in the second of the three-game set at Chase Field. Greinke (10-3, 3.61 ERA) is 4-1 with a 1.47 ERA in five starts this month. He had won seven starts in a row prior to his last outing -- a no-decision at Colorado where he allowed three runs in 5 2/3 innings. The D-backs' ace has allowed more than three runs just once in his last seven starts. Eickhoff (5-9, 3.36) is 3-2 with a 2.01 ERA in five June starts. He has won three of his last four outings -- including his last one when he allowed two runs (one earned) in six innings at Minnesota. Eickhoff has given up more than three earned runs just once in his last 11 starts.


Successful Return – It wasn't Vince Velasquez's best start of the year. Nor was it likely the best outing he'll have before season's end. But it was certainly one the 24-year-old knew was critical. After spending the last three weeks on the disabled list, Velasquez pitched five strong innings in an 8-0 win over the D-backs on Monday night at Chase Field. Before suffering a strained right biceps, Velasquez began to have some issues following a strong start to the season. After his time on the DL, he looked Monday to be carrying the electric stuff he had early on. "It was a little break to pretty much re-evaluate all my outings and go over little mechanics here and there, work on certain things, and then apply them to my bullpens," Velasquez said. "It's a first day back, so it's a good start and hopefully I can build on it." Phillies manager Pete Mackanin wanted to limit Velasquez to 90 pitches. He threw 76 in his rehab outing for Double-A Reading last Wednesday, so his arm is still being built back up. But while Velasquez was in the game, he was in control. He hit 97 mph with his fastball, scattering five hits, with seven strikeouts and no walks. "He settled in pretty nicely later on, that was good to see," Mackanin said. "His arm feels good obviously. He pitched well." It was a scoreless game when Velasquez walked off the mound following the top of the fifth, having thrown 84 pitches. But Philadelphia's offense scored a pair in the bottom half of the frame, and Velasquez notched his first win since May 17. Velasquez won four of his first five starts this season and owned a 1.44 ERA on May 1. Later on however, he went four consecutive starts without completing five innings -- including when he threw just two pitches on June 8 against the Cubs before going on the DL the next day. Velasquez may have an innings limit placed on him later this season. He has never pitched more than 124 2/3 innings in his professional career, which began in the Astros organization. But for now, he is just focused on building off his first start back from injury. "I was pretty much on top of everything, everything was working very well and I think today was a good start," Velasquez said. "My body feels great. The arm, that's just going back to trusting myself, going back to trusting the trainers. It's all about your work ethic. If you put all the work in, then there should be no doubts."

Coming Home – Tommy Joseph was 10 years old when his favorite team, the D-backs, won the World Series. He grew up rooting for the team that joined the Major Leagues as an expansion club when he was 6. He even played in a game at Chase Field during his standout career at Horizon High School in nearby Scottsdale. On Monday, Joseph returned to the desert for the first time as a Major Leaguer when his Phillies opened a three-game set against the D-backs. "Growing up, huge D-backs fan, I came to as many games as I could get to as a kid," said Joseph, a first baseman. "Obviously they had a big impact on my childhood." Joseph struck out in his first four at-bats Monday before flying out to center field in a 8-0 victory over the D-backs. Joseph was drafted by the Giants after high school. He was traded to Philadelphia in a package for Hunter Pence in 2012. Four years later, he made it to the Majors. When Joseph debuted for the Phillies on May 13 at Citizens Bank Park, he had several family members make the trip. His contingent will be larger at Chase Field on Monday night, as more family members and friends will have their first chance to see him play in the big leagues. "It'll mean a lot to have them here for that," Joseph said. "To look up and check out the ballpark from a different side is cool, it's very special and I'm very excited to get this opportunity." Joseph unseated veteran Ryan Howard as the starting first baseman earlier this month. He is batting .244/.256/.487 in 35 games since his callup, but has shown his power potential with eight home runs. Joseph isn't the only Phillies player making a return to Arizona. Reliever David Hernandez played for the D-backs from 2011-15 and starter Jeremy Hellickson pitched for them in 2015.

Today In Phils History – It would be nice to see more games like the one the Phillies played in 1887 when they blew out Indianapolis 24-0 in the largest margin of victory in team history. In a sad turn of events, team president Israel Durham died on this day after having purchased the team in March. Not one to turn down a bonus, in 1946 Phillies catcher Andy Seminick cashed in with his second homerun of the game after manager Ben Chapman announced in extra innings that he would give $25 to any player who hit a homerun. From offense to defense, in 1959 Wally Post threw out 2 baserunners from right field in the same inning tying a MLB record. In that same game, Richie Ashburn set a team record by hitting into 3 double plays. 2 years later, the Phillies played to a 15 inning tie which lasted 5 hours and 11 minutes due to NL rules stating that an inning could not be started after 12:50am. 3 years later, Chirs Short dominated on the mound throwing a 5 hit shutout while rookie Dick Allen struck out 5 times. In an odd inning 9th inning in 1970, with the game tied at 3 manager Frank Lucchesi moved pitcher Dick Selma to first base so lefty Woody Fryman could pitch to a batter with the odd part coming immediately after when the two switched back. In another odd game, the Phillies lost to the Reds in 1995 when the only run in the contest was scored on an error when Dave Hollins misplayed a pickoff attempt by Curt Schilling. Probably the most notable, and unlikely, performance of the day came in 2004 when David Bell hit for the cycle during a 16-6 win over the Expos. 2 years later, the Phillies made an unsettling move when Brett Myers was optioned to Clearwater in the wake of domestic abuse charges.

The Phillies are currently 33-45 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 49-57-2on 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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