Monday, August 1, 2016

Frenchie Goes Deep After Hoff’s Early Exit

GAME RECAP: Braves Edge Phillies 2-1

A 24-minute rain delay cut Jerad Eickhoff's impressive start short on Sunday at Turner Field, and the Phillies ultimately paid the price, as Jeff Francoeur's two-run homer in the seventh inning propelled the Braves to a 2-1 win and a series split. "It was nice," said Francoeur about his homer. "I got a pitch up in the zone. I put a couple good swings on the first few. The first one, if I'm in Philly, I've got a homer. But this was a good win for us. When you have an opportunity to split the series, you want to, but especially when you've got [Joel] De La Cruz going 50 pitches." Eickhoff picked up right where he left off in his start against the Marlins on Tuesday, allowing no runners to reach base until Jace Peterson broke up the right-hander's perfect outing with a leadoff single in the fourth inning. Eickhoff didn't allow the base hit to deter him, however, as he retired five of the next six batters he faced before the rain delay in the middle of the sixth ended his day after just 51 pitches. "It was definitely unfortunate," Eickhoff said. "I was looking to get right back out there. I had some quick innings. I think I had a relatively low pitch count. It was frustrating. But you can only control what you can control." With Eickhoff out of the game, Atlanta took advantage. Nick Markakis reached base on a one-out single in the seventh before Francoeur hit his seventh home run of the season in the ensuing at-bat to give his team a 2-0 lead. Jimmy Paredes led off the top of the eighth with his third homer of the year, but the Braves held on to improve to 5-8 vs. Philadelphia this year.

  • With his two-run homer on Sunday, Francoeur notched his fourth home run in his previous 45 at-bats. The blast marked his only hit of the contest, as the outfielder is batting just .196 (9-for-46) with 19 strikeouts over his past 14 games. Despite his average, though, Francoeur's recent knack for the long ball and his leadership skills could still make him a possible trade target before Monday's non-waiver Trade Deadline. "[It was] a big hit," said Peterson about Francoeur's homer. "He's a guy who comes to the clubhouse every day the same guy. He keeps the energy up, and we know in those situations he's the guy we want at the plate. He's down 0-2 there, [Andrew Bailey] leaves one over the middle and Frenchy was able to poke it out."
  • The Phillies managed just five hits against the Braves, and it was a rough week for the middle of their lineup. Odubel Herrera, Maikel Franco and Tommy Joseph batted 2-3-4 for most of the four-game series, but they hit a combined .149 (7-for-47) with two home runs and six RBIs. They were a combined 2-for-11 on Sunday.
  • Phillies right-hander Bailey allowed the two-run homer to Francoeur in the seventh. Bailey has a 10.43 ERA (17 earned runs in 14 2/3 innings) in his last 15 appearances after posting a 3.06 ERA in his first 18. "I'm battling some things, obviously," Bailey said. "I felt like I made some good pitches that inning. It's just kind of the way it's going for me right now. Clearly, I'm struggling. It's frustrating to be going through this, especially when Eick's start gets cut short. They needed me to step up and throw a zero. There's nothing to do but keep working and grinding it out. Got to finish strong for sure."
  • "I thought it was more important to get him out of there and not take any chances. He sat for a half an hour. You know, the rest of the pitchers have a job to do. They've got to do their job. They're getting paid. It's as simple as that." -- Mackanin, on the decision to pull Eickhoff following the rain delay.
  • The Phillies went 4-6 on their road trip through Pittsburgh, Miami and Atlanta. They hit just .151 (13-for-86) with runners in scoring position.
  • Phillies catcher Cameron Rupp is quietly putting up some of the better numbers among catchers in baseball. He entered Sunday with a .797 OPS, which ranked fourth among 21 qualified catchers. Giants catcher Buster Posey ranked third (.803 OPS).
  • The Giants are happy to leave July behind. They entered Sunday with a 10-13 mark in July, making it their worst month of the season.
  • Giants infielder Eduardo Nunez went 2-for-5 with two runs and a stolen base Saturday in his first start with his new team. Since RBIs became an official statistic in 1920, the only other Giants to drive in two runs and steal a base in their first start for the Giants are Johnny Vergez (1931 at Philadelphia) and Fran Healy (1971 vs. Cubs).

The last time Giants ace Madison Bumgarner faced the Phillies, he allowed three runs in 6 1/3 innings in a loss at AT&T Park in June. Bumgarner (10-6, 2.09 ERA) hopes for better results Tuesday night against the Phillies at Citizens Bank Park, where the teams open a three-game series. Bumgarner is 4-3 with a 3.27 ERA in eight career starts against the Phillies. He faces Phillies rookie Zach Eflin (3-4, 4.23 ERA). Eflin allowed seven runs in five innings last week in a loss to the Marlins in Miami, but he had a 2.08 ERA in his previous seven starts, including a shutout on July 22 against the Pirates.


Things Happen – The Phillies packed their bags for their flight to Philadelphia on Sunday evening with almost everybody secure they would be at Citizens Bank Park on Tuesday. But some players had to wonder. The Phillies lost Sunday to the Braves at Turner Field, 2-1, to fall to 48-59. They have players that could help contending teams in the final two months of the season, and Monday's 4 p.m. ET non-waiver Trade Deadline is fast approaching. So far, the Phillies have not struck a single deal, but they have been talking to numerous teams about numerous possibilities. The Phillies and Rangers have been in serious talks about Vince Velasquez, although sources told that a deal is unlikely. Velasquez is not going to let trade rumors ruin his day off Monday. "I'll be on the golf course," he said. "But I'll have my phone with me." MLB Network's Jon Paul Morosi reported Sunday that the Orioles and Giants remain frontrunners for Jeremy Hellickson. Other teams are also interested. "I think we will make some changes," Phillies manager Pete Mackanin said, "but I haven't talked with [general manager] Matt [Klentak] about it. We've touched on it briefly, but I haven't talked specifically. I'm sure tomorrow I'll talk with him about that and see what he has in mind. "We have to wait for the Trade Deadline to pass. Then I think he'll be willing to do some things out of necessity." Phillies closer Jeanmar Gomez figured to have some value. Peter Bourjos could have been traded this month, but a stint on the disabled list with a strained right shoulder scuttled those chances. Others, like Carlos Ruiz and David Hernandez, are available. "I'm trying not to think about it," Ruiz said. "I'm doing my best to help this team win. Whatever happens, happens. Maybe I'll stay here, who knows?" Ruiz has full no-trade rights, so he could reject any deal. But he also would love to compete for another World Series ring, something that will not happen this season in Philadelphia. "I would like to taste the playoffs again," Ruiz said. Velasquez, Hellickson and other Phillies will learn their fate no later than 4 p.m. on Monday.

A Bruised Target – For those contenders out there in need of starting pitching, Phillies right-hander Jeremy Hellickson said his right hand felt better Sunday morning. He bruised the palm of his hand when he got jammed on a pitch while batting in the fifth inning in Saturday's 9-5 victory over the Braves at Turner Field. Hellickson had trouble gripping his curveball in the sixth inning and eventually had to leave the game, making it the first time since June 4 that he didn't pitch at least six innings. "I'll be all right," Hellickson said. Hellickson said the rest between starts should have him ready to go before his next outing, which is scheduled for Friday against the Padres at Petco Park. Of course, he could be pitching somewhere else by then. The non-waiver Trade Deadline is at 4 p.m. ET Monday, and MLB Network's Jon Paul Morosi reported Sunday afternoon that the Orioles and Giants remain among the top contenders for Hellickson. Baltimore and San Francisco have been following the Phillies for some time. But other teams like the Blue Jays, Tigers and Marlins have scouted Hellickson's starts in recent weeks, too.

Today In Phils History – In 1950, Curt Simmons became the 1st MLB player drafted into military service as he would be deployed to Korea. 3 years later, Warren Spahn 1 hits the Phillies with Richie Ashburn recording the only hit of the day. In a complete game effort, Robin Roberts earned his 200th career win on this day in 1958. In 1966, Dick Allen hit a walk off inside the park homerun against the Astros as Jim Wynn broke his arm and was knocked unconscious when he crashed into the wall trying to make the play. 5 years later, the Phillies eventually lost the game against the Cardinals when it was resumed on September 7th after having been delayed 3 times by rain, postponed, and stretched to 13 innings. The following season, the Phillies dropped the 1st game of a double header in the 18th inning against the Mets at Shea Stadium but won the second game despite Steve Carlton’s scoreless streak coming to an end at 30 innings (the first game was over 2.5 hours while the second was less than 2 hours). In 1996, Scott Rolen doubled in his 2nd at bat in his MLB debut in the 1st game of a double header against the Cardinals. Desi Relaford also made his MLB debut that day. Despite surrendering a hit to the first batter he faces, Randy Wolf still retired 3 Cubs on 3 pitches on this day in 2004. Finally, happy birthday to Gregg Jeffries (1967), Greg Gross (1952), and Pete Mackanin (1951).

The Phillies are currently 48-59 this season putting them on pace to beat most preseason predictions. All time, the Phillies are 63-42-0 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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