Thursday, July 7, 2016

Offense Comes Alive To Complete Sweep

GAME RECAP: Phillies Sweep Braves 4-3

The Phillies and Braves traded punches Wednesday afternoon at Citizens Bank Park, but Freddy Galvis delivered the final blow in the Phillies' 4-3 win. His shot into the right-field seats gave the Phils their first lead of the game after playing catch-up for the first seven innings. Atlanta took leads of 1-0, 2-1, and 3-2, but Galvis got the last word as the Phillies swept the Braves to go 5-1 on their six-game homestand. "What can you say about Freddy?" Phillies manager Pete Mackanin said. "He needed a couple of hits. He got them, and the home run was obviously huge." Jeremy Hellickson and Tyrell Jenkins traded and evaded jams, as each starter put runners in scoring position in three innings apiece, but both also exited the game with just one earned run each -- and without factoring into the decision. Jenkins, filling in for Julio Teheran, was lifted after only 64 pitches and 4 2/3 innings in his first MLB start. He'd yet to allow a run when manager Brian Snitker pulled him, but Ian Krol immediately allowed an Odubel Herrera RBI double to score his inherited runner and tie the game at 1. "He did a great job stretching the game that far," Snitker said. "I kind of felt it would be unfair to him in that last matchup when he was on his last legs." Hellickson continued to increase his trade value in what was likely his second-to-last home start before the Aug. 1 non-waiver Trade Deadline. Despite walking a pair in the third and surrendering four hits, Hellickson made it through six innings, allowing only one earned run.

  • Maikel Franco became the first Phillie to homer in four consecutive games since Ryan Howard did so in September 2012, taking Braves reliever Chris Withrow deep in the sixth inning. Franco has a chance to tie the record for most consecutive games with a home run on Thursday. Four different Phillies have hit homers in five straight games, and Chase Utley did so twice during the 2008 season. 
  • Hellickson provided the Phillies with a reliable right arm for the entire first half of the season, and his start Wednesday was no different. Hellickson gave up just two runs (one earned) and had two separate stretches where he retired seven batters in a row. In his final four starts heading into the All-Star break, Hellickson posted a 2.16 ERA and a 0.96 WHIP. He could be valuable trade piece for the Phillies by the end of the month, but for now, Mackanin is happy to have the 29-year-old in his rotation. "He's really stabilized our rotation," Mackanin said. "He gives you a good six, seven innings sometimes. He throws strikes, and he's done a hell of a job for us."
  • Since Francoeur debuted in 2005, it has been no secret to Major League baserunners that he has a cannon for an arm. Francoeur entered the game leading all MLB outfielders in assists over the last 11 seasons with 117. (Teammate Nick Markakis is second with 100). He added his 118th in the fifth inning. Phillies third-base coach Juan Samuel waved Galvis home on a Cesar Hernandez single to left field. But Francoeur fired a rocket to the plate and A.J. Pierzynski applied the tag on a halfhearted slide from Galvis. Hernandez did come around to score that inning for the Phillies' first run, but Francoeur's throw cost the Phils a chance to take the lead. Jenkins, who was backing up home on the play, waited on the top step of the Braves' dugout for his left fielder as he came off the field. "That was the first time I'd seen Frenchy really put something on it and throw a guy out," Jenkins said. "But no one else was surprised but me." Possibly the person who should have been the least shocked was Samuel. He was Francoeur's third-base and outfield coach in his season with the Phillies. Now Francoeur has some bragging rights over his former coach. "I was pumped when [Galvis] did go," Francoeur said. "Even better now because Juan Samuel, I can hold that over his head for a long time." "A lot of really good things today," Snitker added. "It's a shame, you fight like hell to win a game like that. The guys, you talk about leaving it on the field, they did. Frenchy's play, Adonis coming up big. It's a tough one to lose."
  • Phillies rookie Tommy Joseph is coming off a strong series against Atlanta. The first baseman went 5-for-11 and had hits in all three games against the Braves. He had entered the series in an 0-for-18 slump.
  • Thursday's game will be the first of seven meetings between the Phillies and Rockies this season. They'll reconvene in Philadelphia from Aug. 12-14 after this four-game set in Denver. The Rockies won the season series against the Phillies, 5-2, last season.
  • Bettis has had success against the Phillies in his career. Bettis has a 1.69 ERA in five games (three starts) against the Phillies, his best mark against any team he's faced at least three times. In 21 1/3 innings against Philadelphia, Bettis has struck out 17 batters and walked just one.

The Phillies and Rockies start a four-game series Thursday that will carry both teams into the All-Star break. Adam Morgan is making a spot start for Philadelphia. It will be the 12th start of the season for the left-hander who was moved to the bullpen late last month. Morgan is 1-6 this season with a 6.31 ERA and 52 strikeouts in 61 1/3 innings. Morgan is starting in place of Phillies right-hander Aaron Nola, who will throw a simulated game in Colorado and will return to the rotation after the All-Star break. Nola has been hit hard in his last five outings, going 0-4 with a 13.50 ERA. Morgan will be opposed by Rockies right-hander Chad Bettis. Bettis has a 5.31 ERA away from Coors Field this season, but is 2-2 with a 6.69 ERA in seven home starts.


The Not So Secret Ingredient – The suddenly slugging Phillies found a fitting way to cap their three-game sweep of the Braves. Freddy Galvis smacked a game-winning, two-run home run in the bottom of the eighth on Wednesday afternoon for a 4-3 Phillies win. With Maikel Franco representing the tying run on third base, Galvis got a 2-2, 99-mph fastball from Braves closer Arodys Vizcaino over the heart of the plate and did not miss. "He gave me a good pitch to hit," Galvis said of his line drive which ended up a few rows back in the right-field seats. "I was thinking, 'I'll try to put a good swing on the ball,' and it was a homer." Galvis' homer -- his eighth of the season, a new career high -- sent the Phillies to their eighth win in nine games, capping a 5-1 homestand and marking their fourth sweep of the season. The common theme of the Phillies' last four games has been the long ball. During their four-game winning streak, the Phillies have hit 11 homers, with at least two in each game. Franco has homered in each one of those four games, and his solo shot on Wednesday tied the game in the sixth inning. "If that's what we are, then I'll take it," Phillies manager Pete Mackanin said when he was asked about his team's home-run-hitting ways. "It's a lot easier to manage when you can sit back and wait for two-run, three-run home runs. It's just because the guys are swinging the bats better. They're taking better approaches. They started doing that in Minnesota on our last road trip, and they carried it over to the homestand." The Phillies' low-water mark of the season came during their last road trip, when a stretch against the Twins and Giants had them 13 games under .500. But they've responded well, going 9-2 in their last 11 games with an offense that is scoring 5 1/2 runs per game. After the offense struggled for much of the month of June, the Phillies are getting production everywhere in the lineup. Seven different players homered in the last four games, and Philadelphia outscored opponents, 30-17, during its final homestand of the first half. "I choose to believe we're the team that has played during the last two weeks," Mackanin said. "I know we had such a bad month of June, and I kept wondering why we weren't better knowing we had the chance to be better, and now we're swinging the bat better."

Four In A Row – Maikel Franco went the opposite way for his fourth homer in as many games on Wednesday. The Phillies' third baseman hit a solo shot off of Braves reliever Chris Withrow in the sixth inning of the Phillies' 4-3 win. Franco has now homered in four consecutive games, becoming the first Phillie to accomplish that feat since Ryan Howard did so from Sept. 19-22, 2012. "I'm just really comfortable at home plate," said Franco, who now has 17 home runs this season. "I see the pitches much better, and I try to see the ball and turn that into contact."' Franco, who is in his second full Major League season, is hitting .262 with a .799 OPS heading into the Phillies' final series of the first half. Those numbers are up from .235 and .706 on June 23. Franco's hot bat has been a big part of the Phillies' turnaround in the last two weeks. The Phillies are 9-2 in their last 11 games, and Franco is hitting .395 with 1.237 OPS, five homers and 12 RBIs in that span. "I'm not changing my approach," he said. "I'm still doing the same thing, I haven't changed anything. But I'm seeing the ball much better, and I'll take a walk. That's what I want to see, a really good pitch to hit and then put some contact on it." Franco saw the ball well in the eighth inning on Wednesday when he drew a leadoff walk. It led to Franco scoring on Freddy Galvis' two-out, two-run homer which proved to be the game-winner. "I think if you were a betting man, you wouldn't have bet he took a walk, because he's trying to tie the game up," Phillies manager Pete Mackanin said. "But that's a great sign." The Phillies' record for consecutive games with a home run is five, which has been accomplished five times, including twice by Chase Utley in the 2008 season. Bobby Abreu, Mike Schmidt and Dick Allen have also homered in five straight games for Philadelphia. Franco will have his chance to tie that mark on Thursday in hitter-friendly Coors Field.

Morgan Gets The Nod – Adam Morgan will take the mound Thursday for the Phillies when they open their final series of the first half in Denver. Morgan, a left-hander, will make a spot start against the Rockies in place of Aaron Nola. The Phillies announced earlier in the week Nola would skip his final start before the All-Star break. Morgan has made 11 starts this season, but he was moved to the bullpen last month when righty Vince Velasquez was activated from the disabled list. The 26-year-old has a 6.31 ERA in 13 appearances totalling 61 1/3 innings. He last pitched on Saturday, when he allowed one run over three innings of relief against the Royals in a game started by Nola. Nola, in his second year in the Majors, has hit a wall in the last month. The young right-hander is 0-4 with a 13.50 ERA in his last five starts and has not lasted longer than five innings in any of those outings. He started the season with a 2.65 ERA through his first 12 starts, but his season mark has risen to 4.69 since June 5. Nola will pitch a simulated game in Colorado before the Phillies head into the All-Star break.

Minor Monthly Awards – The Phillies announced their Minor League Players of the Month for June on Wednesday. Rhys Hoskins (Double-A Reading) was the Hitter of the Month, as he hit .351 with a 1.198 OPS, 13 homers and 33 RBIs in 27 games. Triple-A Lehigh Valley was home to the other honorees. Righty Jake Thompson was the Pitcher of the Month as he went 3-0 with an 0.76 ERA in five starts. Meanwhile, shortstop and Phillies' top prospect, J.P. Crawford, was the organization's Fielder of the Month with only two errors in 26 games.

Today In Phils History – The Phillies walked 6 straight New York hitters in 1909 to set a new, albeit briefly held, MLB record. In 1920, in a truly rare feat, the Phillies Mack Wheat bunts into a triple play. There was an odd occurrence during the Phillies 5-1 loss to the Dodgers in 1931 when Fred Brickell, advancing on a single by Chuck Klein, was knocked out when he ran into the 3B and called out despite Manager Burt Shotton pulling his foot onto the bag (coach’s interference). When Richie Ashburn entered the game in 1950 no one expected that game to be the first of 730 consecutive games played, a streak that would last until the 1955 opener. An All Star Game legend was born on this day in 1964 when OF Johnny Callison hit a 2 run homerun with 2 outs in the 9th inning to secure the 7-4 win for the NL at Shea Stadium. 1977 saw the Phillies finish out their longest undefeated homestand in franchise history following consecutive 4 game sweeps of Pittsburgh and New York. Kevin Stocker picked a heck of a game in which to make his MLB debut in 1993 when Mitch Williams blew the 2 run lead in the 9th leading to a 20 inning marathon which saw the Phillies fall behind in what would be the final inning only to have Lenny Dykstra hit a walk off double. And, finally, it was on this day 12 years ago when Bobby Abreu became the 1st player selected for the NL All Star team by the fans in the “final vote” selection process.

The Phillies are currently 40-46 this season putting them on pace to beat most preseason predictions. All time, the Phillies are 31-70-0 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.

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