Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Some Debuts Don’t Go As Planned

GAME RECAP: Jays Jack Phils 11-3 

Josh Donaldson hit a grand slam and Ezequiel Carrera and Edwin Encarnacion added a pair of two-run shots as the Blue Jays scored early and often against rookie Zach Eflin in an 11-3 victory over the Phillies on Tuesday afternoon at Rogers Centre. Donaldson went 3-for-4 with five RBIs and three runs scored. It was his second five-RBI game of the season and the fourth of his career as the reigning American League MVP Award winner also extended his on-base streak to 19 consecutive games. "We watched a little bit of film on him," Donaldson said of Eflin. "I was paying very close attention to Jose [Bautista's] at-bat, and it looked like he wanted to throw his heater early on. In my first at-bat, he threw me a fastball that I could hit, and I was able to hit it pretty well to right field. That kind of started me on the right track. I was able to get some pitches to hit, and I was able to take advantage of it." Kevin Pillar also enjoyed a three-hit game with a homer and a pair of runs scored. Carrera went 2-for-5 with a pair of RBIs and a run scored. The offensive outburst came less than 24 hours after Toronto was shut out by Philadelphia, but the club has now scored at least 10 runs in three of its past four games. Eflin was making his Major League debut, but it did not go as planned. He allowed nine runs (eight earned) on nine hits and three walks while striking out two. Eflin became the first rookie Phillies pitcher to allow eight earned runs or more in a start since Gavin Floyd on April 19, 2005. "You've got to forget about it," Eflin said about his first Major League start. "Obviously, I'll remember it for the rest of my life, but from a pitching standpoint, I've got to bounce back. I've got to throw quality strikes and get ahead of the hitters." Right-hander Marcus Stroman picked up the victory for Toronto. He entered Tuesday having allowed 25 runs over his previous 29 2/3 innings, but Stroman was much better in this one. Stroman scattered six hits and one walk with six strikeouts over seven strong innings. The one big blow was a solo home run by Cesar Hernandez in the seventh. "I felt a lot better out there," Stroman said. "I think the work that we've been putting in between the last few starts is starting to take shape. Not exactly where I want to be, but definitely made strides and looking forward to the next one."

  • Playing in his first game against the Blue Jays since being traded from Toronto to Philadelphia for cash considerations on June 1, Jimmy Paredes finished 2-for-2 with an RBI and a run scored. Paredes brought home the Phillies' first run of the afternoon with a double down the left-field line in the sixth inning, before notching a single and scoring on Andres Blanco's sacrifice fly in the eighth. The 27-year-old switch-hitter entered the game in the bottom of the fifth inning for center fielder Odubel Herrera. Paredes played right, with Peter Bourjos moving to center. "I feel good being back in Canada," Paredes said. "We had a bad game, but we'll see what we can do tomorrow. What I've learned in the National League is that you have to be ready every inning with all the double switches. You never know what's going to happen, and I try to make the most of my opportunities."
  • The eight earned runs allowed by Eflin was the highest total given up by a Philadelphia starter since Jerome Williams surrendered eight on Aug. 20, 2015.
  • Phillies third baseman Maikel Franco missed his second straight game on Tuesday with a right knee sprain he sustained Sunday, and he is considered day to day. If Franco is unable to go Wednesday, Andres Blanco could make his third consecutive start at the hot corner.
  • After spending the past two games at designated hitter, Jose Bautista could make his return to right field on Wednesday. Bautista exited Thursday's game against the Orioles with right thigh tightness, and he missed three consecutive contests before returning to the lineup on Monday.
  • Edwin Encarnacion is expected to get the start at first base in Philadelphia, with Justin Smoak coming off the bench for the Blue Jays. Encarnacion has seen a majority of his at-bats as the DH, but he started at first base on Tuesday.

After playing a pair of games in Toronto, the Blue Jays and Phillies shift over to Citizens Bank Park for two games beginning on Wednesday. Marco Estrada (4-2, 2.57 ERA) gets the ball for Toronto having allowed five hits or fewer in nine consecutive starts. Estrada's .168 batting average against is the lowest mark among American League starters, and the 32-year-old has limited the opposition to two runs or fewer in seven of his 12 starts this season. In his last outing against the Orioles, Estrada went six innings and allowed three earned runs. The right-handed finesse pitcher has won his past three decisions, and he has not been defeated since a 4-0 loss to the White Sox on April 27. The Phillies will counter with Jeremy Hellickson (4-4, 4.34 ERA), who will look to rebound after one of his worst starts of the season. The 29-year-old right-hander allowed nine hits and seven earned runs -- including three home runs -- over six innings in a loss to the Nationals on Friday. Prior to his start against Washington, Hellickson had allowed three runs or fewer in six consecutive outings. Hellickson made 15 starts against Toronto from 2010-14 during his time with the Rays, going 5-4 with a 3.45 ERA. However, he is 1-10 with a 6.69 ERA in 15 Interleague starts.


Dreadful Debut – Zach Eflin experienced both the highs and lows of life in the Major Leagues during his debut on Tuesday. Eflin was called up from Triple-A Lehigh Valley to start in place of the injured Vince Velasquez, and he struck out two of the first three batters he faced -- Jose Bautista and Edwin Encarnacion -- on hard sliders. After that, however, things took a turn for the worst for Eflin, the Phillies' No. 13 prospect. The 22-year-old right-hander lasted just 2 2/3 innings, giving up nine runs (eight earned) in an 11-3 loss to the Blue Jays. Three of the nine hits Eflin allowed were home runs, and he also walked three. He became the first Phillies rookie to allow eight earned runs in a game since Gavin Floyd on April 19, 2005. "This was his Major League debut, and I suppose he was a little nervous," Phillies manager Pete Mackanin said. "He just made a lot of bad pitches. He normally locates a lot better than he did. He was just up in the zone with all his pitches and got hit. Sorry to see his debut turn out that way, but this is a good lineup, and he can't make mistakes to them." The big blow from Toronto came in a six-run third inning, when reigning American League MVP Award winner Josh Donaldson took Eflin into the second deck with a grand slam for a 9-0 Blue Jays lead. Known for his ability to keep the ball down and command his fastball, Eflin didn't display those tendencies in Toronto. "You've got to forget about it," Eflin said. "Obviously, I'll remember it for the rest of my life, but from a pitching standpoint, I've got to bounce back. I've got to throw quality strikes and get ahead of the hitters." "You just got to keep him calm, don't let him get to himself, don't let him get down about himself," added catcher Cameron Rupp. "Just tell him, 'Come on, you can do it, you got one pitch left, you got two outs, you're one pitch away.' And then it was tough for him not to get it. He battled, he never gave in to those hitters, and that's a good lineup, too. You can't make mistakes to that lineup and those guys, and they got him when he did." Acquired from the Dodgers as part of the Jimmy Rollins deal in 2014, Eflin's Major League debut came in front of a packed house at Rogers Centre. In the first row behind the Phillies' dugout were Eflin's father, grandparents, two sisters, girlfriend and her brother. "It was very special," Eflin said about having his family on hand. "Especially because they had their passports and everything ready for whenever and whatever happened, so it was awesome to have them here." While the Phillies are unsure of what the season holds for Eflin as far as a permanent spot in their rotation, they do expect him to get another outing. The 6-foot-6, 215-pound right-hander knows he'll have to make some tweaks in order to have a better performance his next time out. "Really make sure I limit my pitches up in the zone," Eflin said. "I need to make sure that I focus on every pitch and work down in the zone and really don't give them anything to hit, and go from there."

Today In Phils History – It was on this day in 1945 that Ben Chapman was acquired from the Dodgers… his history with that team did not stop there. 4 years later, Eddie Waitkus is shot in a Chicago hotel by 19-year old Ruth Steihagen. 3 years later, Granny Hamner demonstrated why it is always important to cover home plate when he scored on a foul pop up which was fielded by the Pittsburgh catcher. In 1960, the Phillies said goodbye to Wally Post and Sparky Anderson but also welcomed Tony Gonzalez to the team. 2 year later, the Phillies made a smart acquisition (which they would later negate) when they signed minor-league free agent Ferguson Jenkins. Long time Phillies manager Gene Mauch was fired on this day in 1968 and replaced by Bob Skinner. In 2001, the Phillies honored 2 players from 2 very different eras when Gary Maddox and Gavvy Cravath were inducted into the Philadelphia Baseball Hall of Fame. It is also the birthday of Bab Dahlgren (1912) and Lance Parrish who turns 60 today.

The Phillies are currently 30-35 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 42-57-0 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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