- Franco had been scuffling for much of the season, but he has caught fire the last few weeks. He is hitting .354 (29-for-82) with five doubles, one triple, seven home runs, 21 RBIs and a 1.119 OPS in his last 21 games. He is hitting .235 (26-for-80) with runners in scoring position this season. “I think he's better than what he was last year," Howard said. "I think getting that experience, every year you get a little more, and that makes you better. He's just really in a good, comfortable spot right now."
- Eickhoff might have been the Phillies' best starter in the first half of the season, although he allowed a career-high eight runs on July 9 in Colorado. But he returned to form against the Mets. He allowed five hits, two runs, one walk and struck out three in six-plus innings. He also doubled and scored the game-tying run in the fifth. "He's not as sharp as I've seen him," Mackanin said. "He really wasn't that sharp, and he pitched well enough to win. Too many baserunners for my liking, but he got us into the seventh inning."
- "I know it was a good situation for me. I just wanted to put the ball in play, and something good happened for me and my team, too." -- Franco, on his game-winning hit against Hansel Robles.
- Howard hit his 370th career homer in the second inning, tying him with Gil Hodges for 77th place on the all-time home run list. Howard's 46 homers against the Mets are the most among active players. He also ranks fifth all-time behind Willie Stargell (60), Chipper Jones (49), Mike Schmidt (49) and Willie McCovey (48). Howard had been tied with Hank Aaron for fifth.
- Eickhoff nearly made a crucial play in the seventh thanks to a heads-up play on the mound. He fielded a comebacker and caught d'Arnaud off of second base. But as d'Arnaud retreated, Eickhoff made a high throw that drew away from the bag. He got the tag down and umpires initially ruled d'Arnaud out at second. Mets manager Terry Collins challenged and replay officials overturned the call, giving the Mets runners at first and second. Collins is now 7-for-16 on challenges this season.
- Peter Bourjos is looking to extend his NL-leading 23-game on-base streak. He extended it Saturday night on a throwing error by Asdrubal Cabrera. Over the length of the streak, Bourjos is hitting .381 (32-84 AB) with 12 extra-base hits and 17 runs scored.
- Another obstacle for a pitcher's duel: The Phillies have found success against deGrom in the past. Although he has a 3.03 career ERA against them, Cody Asche and Freddy Galvis both own batting averages north of .400 against him and Ryan Howard has two home runs in 17 at-bats.
- Yoenis Cespedes has missed the first two games out of the All-Star break with a strained right quad. The Mets were hopeful he would be ready for Saturday's game and held out posting the lineup until only two hours before first pitch, awaiting the results of Cespedes' running drills. But Juan Lagares again filled in in center field for the second straight day. Manager Terry Collins still does not believe the quad will require a DL stint for Cespedes.
Sunday, July 17, 2016
Howard Turns Back Clock Against Mets
GAME RECAP: Phillies Top Mets 4-2
If the Phillies are serious about making a run at .500, and maybe even the National League Wild Card, they have to win series against teams like the Mets. They have an opportunity to do so following Saturday night's 4-2 victory over the Mets at Citizens Bank Park. Phillies first baseman launched a solo homer in the second inning, and third baseman slapped a single to left field with one out in the seventh to score from second base to give the Phillies (43-49) a one-run lead. scored an insurance run on a wild pitch in the eighth as picked up his 25th save in the ninth. "It's good to win," Phillies manager Pete Mackanin said. "I didn't want to hear the Mets fans." The Mets had opportunities, putting the leadoff man on base five times in seven innings against Phillies right-hander , but they could not put together the big inning. Both and logged sacrifice flies for New York, and notched a double in his in center field.
Zach Eflin has bounced back from a disastrous debut to grow into one of the Phillies' most reliable starters heading into the second half of the season. But if you thought last few starts have been good, just look at the Mets hurler he'll face in Sunday's finale. Jacob deGrom joins Bartolo Colon as the only Mets starter not bit by the injury bug in the season's first half. He's been particularly effective since bone spurs began to bother Noah Syndergaard and Steven Matz. Over deGrom's last three starts, he's allowed only three runs in 20 innings. Each of Eflin's last three starts have gone down as quality ones. But even his more-than-respectable 2.57 ERA over that span looks gargantuan compared to deGrom's 1.35 mark. It may look like recipe for a Sunday afternoon pitcher's duel. But deGrom has to deal with a Phillies offense that is averaging over five runs a game over its last 10, while Eflin faces a Mets team that has clubbed 14 home runs in four games this season at Citizens Bank Park.
Franco On Fire – This is the the Phillies expected. Franco hit a one-out single to left field in the seventh inning on Saturday night in a over the Mets at Citizens Bank Park. The hit scored from second base to break a 2-2 tie. It also put the Phillies in position to win the series. "It's good to win," Phillies manager Pete Mackanin said. "I didn't want to hear the Mets fans." Franco has been swinging a hot bat since a slow start. He posted a disappointing .690 OPS through June 20, which put him among the bottom half of everyday third basemen. Franco has been on a tear since and told the team's young hitters to relax in a meeting before a three-game series in Minnesota on June 21. He is hitting .354 (29-for-82) with five doubles, one triple, seven home runs, 21 RBIs and a 1.119 OPS in his last 21 games. His OPS is third among all third basemen in that span, behind only Toronto's (1.190) and Arizona's (1.172). Despite his slow start, Franco is tied for sixth among third basemen in home runs (18) and tied for fifth in RBIs (54). "I'm seeing pitches much better," Franco said. "Even today, my first three at-bats, I felt really good. I'm staying positive. Every at-bat is really important." Franco entered the season as the team's No. 3 hitter. He fell to sixth in the Phillies' lineup on June 18-19 against the D-backs. But he is back hitting in the middle, looking like a force that the team can build around. "I think he's better than what he was last year," Howard said. "I think getting that experience, every year you get a little more, and that makes you better. He's just really in a good, comfortable spot right now." If Franco had been hitting like this from the jump, he likely would have joined teammate at the All-Star Game earlier this week in San Diego. Maybe next year. "I can't control that," Franco said. "I want to be at the All-Star Game at every year, but right now I just feel more comfortable at home plate."
Slowing Down – Phillies manager Pete Mackanin announced the Phillies' rotation to open the second half last Sunday in Colorado. He said would start the second-half opener Friday against the Mets at Citizens Bank Park because he is the most experienced pitcher in the group. He chose to pitch Saturday, instead of , or , because he might have been the Phillies' best pitcher in the first half. Eickhoff showed his ability to grind in Saturday's over the Mets. He allowed five hits, two runs, one walk and struck out three in six-plus innings, while also notching a pair of hits and scoring a run. The line score makes it look like Eickhoff had an easy night, but it was far from that. He allowed the leadoff hitter to reach base in five of seven innings. "He's not as sharp as I've seen him," Mackanin said. "He really wasn't that sharp, and he pitched well enough to win. Too many baserunners for my liking, but he got us into the seventh inning." "That was kind of frustrating," Eickhoff said. "I was starting in the stretch early on." But Eickhoff bounced back from arguably the worst start of his career July 9 in Colorado, where he allowed a career-high eight runs in 5 1/3 innings. "Deep breaths," Eickhoff said, asked how he worked out of his jams Saturday. "Just kind of focus on each pitch and not try to think too far ahead. Just focus on the now and not worrying about giving up two, three, four runs, instead of giving up just one. Just kind of slowed it down a little bit." It is no secret that Hellickson could be traded before the Aug. 1 non-waiver Trade Deadline, and the Phillies are closely monitoring the workloads of Nola and Velasquez. Eickhoff could be the Phillies' lone starter to approach 200 innings before the end of the season as he establishes himself as the rotation's workhorse. He has a team-high 115 innings through 19 starts, a little more than six innings per start. "An innings eater, that's what I've always wanted to be," he said. He grinded through his start Saturday to keep him on pace of becoming just that.
Today In Phils History – Following the efforts of Boston, down 12-2 in the 8th, to delay a game in 1894, the Phillies were given the win by forfeit causing the fans to riot against Boston and forcing them to be removed from the stadium under police escort. The longest game in Phillies history, 21 innings, occurred on this day in 1918 with neither team committing an error (MLB record) in the 2-1 loss to the Cubs at Wrigley Field. 30 years later, Granny Hamner drove in 7 runs against the Cardinals with a single and 2 doubles. In 1984, with 8 strikeouts in the game, Steve Carlton surpasses the century mark for the 18th straight season setting a new NL record and tying Walter Johnson’s MLB record. 4 years later, Rickey Jordan hit a 3 run homerun in his first MLB at bat (second MLB plate appearance) to help the Phillies defeat the Astros 10-4. In 2007, Aaron Rowand collected 3 doubles and a homerun against the Dodgers, 3 days after collecting 4 extra base hits in a game, to become the first player to have multiple 4 extra base hit games in the same month. The following season, the Phillies acquired Joe Blanton from Oakland for their World Series run. Finally, happy birthday to Deron Johnson (1938) and Bobby Thigpen (1963).
The Phillies are currently 43-49 this season putting them on pace to beat most preseason predictions. All time, the Phillies are 54-50-1 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.