Sunday, August 14, 2016

Franco Powers Phillies To Victory

GAME RECAP: Phillies Top Rockies 6-3

Tyler Anderson wasn't long for this one. In the Phillies' 6-3 win Saturday night, the Rockies' rookie left-hander hit Maikel Franco the at-bat after the third baseman gave Philadelphia an early lead with a three-run homer and subsequent exuberant trot. Tempers flared. Benches cleared. Bullpens emptied. No punches were thrown, but Anderson and Rockies manager Walt Weiss were ejected. After Franco came around to score, the Rockies had more fireworks to contribute by way of the long ball. Franco didn't believe Anderson plunked him on purpose. But given the situation, he wasn't surprised to see the benches clear and his team come to his defense, either. "I know the team had to protect me," Franco said. "They had to respond, too. … I didn't expect the ball to be coming because I didn't do anything wrong, just run my bases. This moment, you just have to get mad a little bit." Anderson and Weiss each said they thought home-plate umpire Eric Cooper's decision was quick, but they also saw Cooper's side. "Obviously, I put that guy [Cooper] in a tough situation, because he hit a home run the at-bat before, but I was not going to intentionally hit the guy in the shin," Anderson said. "A little quick, but I put him in a bad spot, too." Down four runs in the sixth, Colorado knocked Phillies starter Jerad Eickhoff out after 5 2/3 innings with a pair of dingers. Daniel Descalso mashed a two-run blast, while Tony Wolters added a solo shot -- the third straight plate appearance he reached safely in to start the game. The win gives the Phillies three straight victories for the first time since early July -- a streak the Rockies snapped during the teams' series in Colorado. A sweep Sunday would be their first since taking three from the Braves during that streak. The Rockies are trending in an opposite direction, dropping their eighth game of their last 10 to fall five below .500 for the first time since July 23. "It's really good to win a series against this lineup," Phillies manager Pete Mackanin said. "This whole lineup is a good lineup. All you have to do is look at their batting averages. We're doing a heck of a job beating these guys the first two games."

  • Franco took his time rounding the bases after putting a three-spot on the scoreboard in the first inning with his 21st blast of the season. The next pitch Franco saw from Anderson in the fourth was a fastball to the knee. Franco stared down Anderson, who had words for him and home-plate umpire Eric Cooper, and took first after the benches and bullpens cleared. A Carlos Ruiz walk pushed Franco to second, where he hustled home on Freddy Galvis' single to give the Phillies their fourth six run of the evening. The Phillies' third baseman had a hand (and knee) in all four.
  • The sixth inning has not treated Eickhoff well. The three runs Colorado plated off him in the inning upped his sixth-inning ERA this season to an astronomical 12.71. Eickhoff's struggles the third time through the order have plagued him all season, often turning a potential gem into a mess heading into the seventh. Thanks to some uncharacteristic run support, Eickhoff's scheduled sixth-inning implosion cost him only ERA points, not a win. "Eickhoff, the sixth inning again, I don't know what it is," Mackanin said. "He just lost his command in that sixth inning. He's been doing that, so we've got to go to work on that and see what the problem is." Eickhoff isn't so sure either. Despite the gaudy numbers, he doesn't believe it's any sort of a trend. He attributed his struggles in the sixth his last start to an inability to locate, while Saturday, he believed he lost the touch on his curveball. "It just comes down to getting that curveball over," Eickhoff said. "I got it over the first inning maybe, but if the hitters can eliminate that, especially being lefties, you know, it's a big weapon for me. If I'm not throwing that with consistency, they can just put that in the back of their mind, or eliminate it, really."
  • Andres Blanco is still more than a week away from removing the pin from his fractured left index finger. Mackanin said the tentative date for that is Aug. 22, but once it is out, it shouldn't take Blanco much more than a week to be ready for action again. Mackanin anticipates Blanco's return around the first week of September.
  • The Phillies moved Jeremy Hellickson's next start back to let him rest his sore back and also get a better look at it. Originally scheduled for Wednesday, Mackanin said Hellickson's next start will tentatively come Saturday against the Cardinals. They'll know for certain after Hellickson goes through more tests Saturday. "He seems to be improved and ready to go," Mackanin said. "But we're going to double-check tomorrow." Hellickson said Friday that although he still had some soreness, he expected to make his next start.
  • Mackanin also officially named Adam Morgan as Sunday's starting pitcher, filling in for Eflin. Morgan was scratched from his start at Triple-A Lehigh Valley on Friday and will be recalled prior to Sunday's game. The Phillies will send down a reliever after Saturday's game to clear a roster spot for the left-hander.
Adam Morgan (1-7, 6.65 ERA) gets the nod to fill the injured Zach Eflin's spot in the rotation in the series finale at 1:35 p.m. ET at Citizens Bank Park on Sunday. The last time Morgan was on a Major League mound, it was July 7 in Colorado, allowing six runs over five innings to the Rockies.


Bad Inning(s) – Numbers don't lie. And they don't tell a pretty story for Jerad Eickhoff after the fifth inning. Albeit in a 6-3 Phillies win, the Rockies again signed their name to the list of teams to torch Eickhoff the third time around the order. They had done so once already, scoring six of their eight runs off Eickhoff in the sixth inning of his start at Coors Field in July. The first five innings Saturday were hardly easy for Eickhoff. He allowed six hits and nine baserunners but stranded them all. David Dahl doubled with one out the sixth, and he was not stranded. Daniel Descalso homered the next at-bat and Tony Wolters followed two batters later with a solo shot of his own. After a triple by pitcher Chris Rusin, Eickhoff's night was over, in the sixth, again. With the two outs recorded in the inning Saturday, Eickhoff has now pitched 17 total sixth innings this season. In those, he has allowed 24 runs. Over 119 1/3 total innings pitched in the first through fifth frame, Eickhoff has allowed a combined 34 runs. His sixth-inning ERA climbed to 12.71. "Eickhoff, the sixth inning again, I don't know what it is," Mackanin said. "He just lost his command in that sixth inning. He's been doing that, so we've got to go to work on that and see what the problem is." Eickhoff knows what the numbers say, but he doesn't see any trend. To him, it's a different malfunction each time. On Saturday, he said he lost his touch on the curveball. The start prior, in which he completed the sixth, but not before allowing three Padres runs, he pointed to a single mistake pitch on a two-run Ryan Schimpf home run. Even dating back to his Minor League days, Eickhoff said it was the early innings, not the late ones, that gave him trouble. "It's just kind of how trends happen," Eickhoff said, emphasizing their randomness. "It's not anything concerning for me." While Eickhoff may not have an explanation for the consistent sixth-inning struggles, there was an easy one for Saturday's. With temperatures north of 90 degrees and a heat index of 105 at first pitch, Eickhoff (and everyone else) was dripping with sweat. He had command of his curve in the first, but it evaporated as the game continued. A curveball may be the pitch most affected by a slick hand: having to grip the seams, flick the wrist to get the ball spinning, all while commanding it with precision -- ideally. It had been "a while" since Eickhoff pitched in hot and humid conditions comparable to Saturday, and he didn't shy away from admitting its effects. "I felt like I had it early on," Eickhoff said. "But as the game went on and the more I sweat, the moisture kept building. I couldn't throw it like I wanted to. It's just a part of the game. I've got to adjust to it and I wasn't able to do that.”

Season Over? – Zach Eflin's first Major League season could be over. In addition to the patellar tendinopathy in both his knees that put him on the 15-day disabled list on Tuesday, an MRI on Friday revealed Eflin also has a stress fracture in his right foot. "I would say it's unlikely he'll be back this year," Phillies manager Pete Mackanin said. "I can't commit to that 100 percent, but it doesn't seem likely that he'll be back." Eflin has dealt with knee issues for years, but the pain in his foot was a more recent occurrence. Eflin said the foot began to bother him a couple weeks ago and asked for it to be examined when he was getting an MRI on his knees. In both cases, Eflin and the Phillies are waiting for more detailed results and will likely seek a second opinion. With no knowledge of his current situation, it would be difficult to diagnose Eflin with any sort of injury. He strolled into the clubhouse with a smile on his face and a skip in his step. His foot is no game of Russian nesting dolls. There is no walking boot, medical tape or other treatment beneath the leather cowboy boot on his right foot. "When I walk on the outside of it, I feel it, but I'm fine," Eflin said. "Obviously I could pitch through it. But it's just not really ideal." If this is the end of Eflin's rookie season, he'll finish with a 3-5 record and 5.54 ERA. It did have its bright spots, though, including a complete-game shutout of the Pirates and a seven-start run without allowing more than three earned runs.

Today In Phils History – While staying in Ventnor, NJ recovering from a series of illnesses in 1913, club President William Locke died of a heart attack. The Phillies finally put an end to their 30 inning scoreless streak on this day in 1942. 10 year later, Willie "Puddinhead" Jones ended his NL record for 3B streak of 62 games without committing an error. The Phillies lost their 17th straight game on this day in 1961 which was also the 11th straight game during which the opposing pitcher recorded a complete game. 20 year later, Mike Schmidt hit career homerun #300 off of New York’s Mike Scott. The following season, Pete Rose moved passed Hank Aaron on the all-time at bat list with 12,365. 2 year later, Juan Samuel stole his 56th base of the year breaking Sherry Magee’s franchise record. 6 years ago, R. A. Dickey held the Phillies to only 1 hit which was recorded by opposing pitcher Cole Hamels in the Phillies 1-0 loss to the Mets. Finally, happy birthday to Juan Pierre who was born on this day in 1977.

The Phillies are currently 55-63 this season putting them on pace to beat most preseason predictions. All time, the Phillies are 57-55-0 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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