Monday, July 11, 2016

Phillies Split Final Series Before All Star Break

GAME RECAP: Phillies Crush Rockies 10-3

Cameron Rupp made sure the Rockies didn't even their home record before the All-Star break, going a career-best 4-for-5, and tying a career-high four RBIs in the Phillies' 10-3 win on Sunday at Coors Field. Rupp drove in runs on singles in the third and fifth before hitting a 465-foot home run off Jake McGee in the seventh. Maikel Franco out-did him in the following frame with a 471-foot shot -- the fourth longest in baseball this season -- off Jason Motte. "Our hitting has come around," Phillies manager Pete Mackanin said. "The first two months we were at the bottom of the pack, literally. Everybody has been contributing." The Phillies tagged Rockies starter Tyler Chatwood for four runs on eight hits with three walks and two strikeouts. It was his second straight start after coming off the 15-day disabled list (mid-back strain) to only last five innings. "I don't think I've pitched very well since I hurt my back," Chatwood said. "I haven't found my rhythm again. That's not an excuse, I just haven't pitched good." Phillies rookie Zach Eflin did a good job solving a Rockies lineup that scored 22 runs in the previous three games this series. He limited them to two runs on seven hits over six innings with three strikeouts and two walks. Home Run Derby participant Carlos Gonzalez homered into the third deck in right field in the eighth off Hector Neris.

  • Eflin allowed two runs in six innings against the Rockies, giving him some solid mojo heading into the All-Star break. After allowing nine runs in just 2 2/3 innings in his big league debut June 14 in Toronto, Eflin is 2-1 with a 2.20 ERA (eight earned runs in 32 2/3 innings) in his last five starts. "You just can't live in the past," Eflin about his recovery after Toronto. "You've just always got to have your head high. I learn after every outing and I learned a lot after that one. I've done a good job of just keeping the ball down and throwing all of pitches for strikes and keeping the hitters guessing."
  • Rupp said recently he does not consider himself a placeholder for Phillies' catching prospects Jorge Alfaro and Andrew Knapp. He continued to make a strong case for himself, going 4-for-5 with a home run and four RBIs. He is the first Phillies' catcher with four hits and four RBIs in a game since Carlos Ruiz on June 13, 2008, in St. Louis. Rupp now ranks third among qualified catchers with an .840 OPS. "No, not at all," said Rupp, asked if he could have scripted his half any better. "Just coming out and being consistent. That's what I'm trying to do every day. I don't want to get too high, too low."
  • "I've been making unbelievable decisions. It's unbelievable," -- Mackanin, joking on what has gone right for the Phillies during their 10-3 stretch before the break.
  • Maikel Franco's three-run homer in the eighth traveled a projected 471 feet, according to Statcast™. It is the Phillies' longest homer of the Statcast™ era, which dates to last season. It is believed to be the Phillies' longest homer since Ryan Howard hit one an estimated 473 feet on Sept. 18, 2009, according to ESPN's home run tracker. 
  • Left-hander Daniel Stumpf returned to the Phillies July 10 after serving an 80-game suspension for performance enhancing drugs. Philadelphia acquired Stumpf from Kansas City last December in the Rule 5 Draft. He pitched in three games before being suspended.
  • Active members of the Mets have hit a combined .307 against Hellickson, with Jose Reyes having recorded a .381 batting average to go along with one homer and four RBIs.
  • Mets manager Terry Collins has expressed hope that Yoenis Cespedes would be ready to play by the end of the All-Star break. Cespedes, who sustained a right quad strain July 8, leads the Mets with 21 homers and 52 RBIs. In 26 at-bats against the Phillies in the first half of the year, Cespedes hit .269 with three homers and six RBIs.

After limping into the All-Star break with a slew of injuries to key players, the Mets turn to Jacob deGrom (5-4, 2.61 ERA) to set the tone for the second half of the season July 15 against the Phillies, who counter with Jeremy Hellickson (6-6, 3.92 ERA). deGrom and Bartolo Colon have been the only regular members of the Mets' starting rotation to avoid injury issues in recent weeks. Matt Harvey opted for season-ending surgery to repair his thoracic outlet syndrome, while Steven Matz and Noah Syndergaard have both been pitching through bone spurs; Syndergaard left his start July 8 with a "dead arm." Hellickson has provided a veteran presence in a young Phillies pitching staff, but his name has floated around in trade rumors. The Mets could be in the market for a starter given all their issues, but there's been no indication Hellickson could be an option for them.


Setting Sights On Second Half – Almost nobody expected anything from the Phillies this season. They were rebuilding. They were young. And then they started the season 0-4, which only seemed to confirm those low expectations. But after a 10-3 victory over the Rockies on Sunday afternoon at Coors Field, the Phillies enter the All-Star break at 42-48. They have won 10 of their last 13 games, putting them within striking distance of .500 and -- is it crazy to even mention this? -- just six games behind the Marlins and Mets for the second National League Wild Card. Suddenly, the second-half expectations are a little higher. "Back at the start of the season, I said I'd like to play .500 and go from there," Phillies manager Pete Mackanin said. "I feel like even though we're six under, we're at that point where we're going to find out how much we've improved and how good we are or if it's just a façade. And I chose to believe it's not. We're going to win a lot more games in the second half than we did in the first half." Phillies catcher Cameron Rupp, who has been one of the team's brightest spots this season, said .500 play the rest of the way would be a nice accomplishment. Remember, the Phillies finished last season with the worst record in baseball at 63-99. "You don't want to settle for mediocrity by any means," Rupp said. "But when a team has zero expectations and you've got days where the oldest guy on the field is 27, 28 years old, it's part of the learning process of playing in the big leagues. We're doing that and showing that we all belong here. That we can play with anybody, play with the best." The Phillies were 24-17 on May 18, but went just 6-26 from May 20 through June 22. "We went into that nosedive in June," Mackanin said. "I didn't think we'd ever win another game." They are 12-5 since the tailspin, which has the team encouraged entering the break. While they are looking forward to getting away for a few days, it is nothing like last year's All-Star break when they were 29-62. Players last year quietly said how much they could not wait to get away for a few days, almost dreading their return. "When you struggle a lot and you're losing every day it's hard to come to the ballpark and get up and get going," Rupp said. "We're winning. Winning is fun. I know we're not .500, but we hit a stretch … where we were playing the best teams back-to-back-to-back-to-back. They did what they were supposed to do to us, but we didn't quit." And now the second half is suddenly a little more interesting.

Going (Really) Deep – Maikel Franco got his title back. He crushed a three-run home run in the eighth inning of Sunday's 10-3 win over the Rockies at Coors Field a projected 471 feet, according to Statcast™. It is the Phillies' longest home run of the season and the fourth-longest homer in baseball this season. It also is the Phillies' longest homer of the Statcast™ era, which dates to last season. It is believed to be the Phillies' longest homer since Ryan Howard hit one an estimated 473 feet on Sept. 18, 2009, according to ESPN's home run tracker. "471?" Franco said. "I didn't know that." He bested Cameron Rupp, who ripped a two-run home run a projected 465 feet in the seventh inning. Rupp's status atop the Phillies' home run leaderboard lasted just one inning, although it remains the 11th-longest homer in baseball. "They were both good ones," Rupp said. It has been a week of long homers for the Phillies. Tommy Joseph hit a pinch-hit, three-run home run Friday that traveled a projected 455 feet, which made it the Phillies' longest homer of the year. Joseph's bomb beat Franco's 448-foot blast Monday at Citizens Bank Park, which was the Phillies' longest homer of the season when he hit it. Statcast™ radars tracked each of the home runs. It projects home run distances, not where the balls land, but where they would have landed had the stands not gotten in the way. Of course, it is worth noting that Coors Field also adds about 20 feet to home runs, according to a study. "They all count the same," Rupp said.

Back From Suspension – Daniel Stumpf said he rejoined the Phillies on Sunday with a clean conscience, maintaining his innocence and saying he has no idea how a performance-enhancing drug that first gained notoriety with East German athletes entered his system. Stumpf, 25, tested positive in Spring Training for dehydrochlormethyltestosterone (DHCMT), which is an anabolic steroid better known as oral turinabol. He served the final game of his 80-game suspension Saturday. The Phillies activated him from the restricted list Sunday, optioning Severino Gonzalez and designating Mario Hollands for assignment to make room for him on the 25-man and 40-man rosters. "I understand that it's going to be hard to believe for people," Stumpf said. "I understand that people say all the time that they don't know how it got into their system. I know that there's been chatter out there from people saying 'If you're taking an uncertified supplement, then you're taking the risk of that.' Well, I don't take supplements, period. I don't drink protein. I don't do pre-workout. I don't eat protein bars. I don't go to Smoothie King and drink smoothies, strictly because they mix stuff in their smoothies. The only thing I took in my life is fish oil because I had high cholesterol. That's the only supplement that ever went in my body." East Germany developed DHCMT in the 1960s. It is ingested orally. It also is easily detectable. Stumpf, who the Phillies selected in the 2015 Rule 5 Draft, said he tested positive for only one metabolite in his system. "Everybody who gets caught says, 'Well, it's a metabolite in trace amounts,'" Dr. Stuart Phillips, a professor at McMaster University and an expert in exercise metabolism, told Sportsnet Canada, which reported on Toronto's Chris Colabello's suspension for DHCMT. "But everything's trace when you're measuring on that level. If you fail the test, and it's four parts per trillion, it means there's not very much of it in there. But there was none of it before. "If you have a metabolite, then you had the drug in your system and you enjoyed the benefits of that drug at that time. You doped at some point. Whether you did it inadvertently or whether you did it deliberately is the question. But you still had it in your system." Stumpf said he is still searching for answers. He has talked with Colabello, Triple-A Lehigh Valley pitcher Alec Asher, Mariners prospect Boog Powell and Minor League free agentCody Stanley, who each have been suspended for DHCMT. "You might go take a drug test right now and have this M4 metabolite in your system," he said. "You don't know. Apparently it's not something that is created in your body. It's a synthetic thing so that's why they're saying that we have to have taken something. Other than food and a fish oil, that was the only thing in my body. "If it could happen to me, it could happen to anyone." Stumpf said he never appealed his suspension because he was advised it would delay the inevitable. He sent close to 60 items to be tested for possible contamination, including medications, cough drops, ChapStick and lotions. Each came back clean. "I specifically told the union when I was going through this, I don't care if I have proof or not, I want to sit down in front of these people and I want them to tell me that I'm a liar, that I did this," Stumpf said. "I'm going to argue to you that I did not. They said that's not enough, that my word isn't good enough to them. So yeah, I was told I was going to lose, so I didn't appeal. "I lay down at night with a guilt-free conscience. I know I didn't do anything. My family believes me. My teammates believe me. The Phillies believe me. God knows what I did. I don't have to prove myself to anybody. Obviously there's a bunch of guys in the game right now that are running their mouths now about this. And that's fine. But again, if this can happen to me it can happen to you."

Today In Phils History – The Phillies delivered a surprising beating to Pittsburgh in 1910 when they won the game 18-0 including 9 runs scored in the 9th inning. On the flip side in 1931, New York crushed the Phillies 23-8 at the Baker Bowl knocking out 28 hits including 4 homeruns and 7 doubles. Phillies manager Ben Chapman made a serious mental error in 1947 when he accidentally handed the umpire an unused lineup card from the previous day forcing Schoolboy Rowe to throw 2 pitches without warming up (one hit for a double) before yielding to intended starter Charley Shanz who eventually took the loss. In 1954, Jim Command launched a grand slam for his 1st major league hit during the Phillies 8-7 loss to the Dodgers in the first game of a double header. Dick Allen helped to propel the NL to a 2-2 victory with a homerun in the 1967 All Star Game. 20 years later, Kent Tekulve set the MLB record when he made his 900th career relief appearance (no other pitcher had appeared in as many games without ever starting a game). In 1995, Phillies closer Heathcliffe Slocumb got the win as the NL defeated the AL 3-2 in the All Star Game at Arlington. A decade later, Bobby Abreu took home the homerun derby crown in Detroit finishing the tournament with a record 41 bombs including 24 in the first round.

The Phillies are currently 42-48 this season putting them on pace to beat most preseason predictions. All time, the Phillies are 44-36-0 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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