Saturday, August 13, 2016

Grand Nostalgia Enough To Top Rockies

GAME RECAP: Phillies Rock Rockies 10-6

The Phillies got a little nostalgic Friday night. Prior to their series-opening 10-6 win over the Rockies at Citizens Bank Park, the Phils inducted Jim Thome into the club's Wall of Fame. Not three hours later, the man who took Thome's job back in 2005, Ryan Howard, looked like his old self and hammered a grand slam into the Rockies' bullpen, 455 feet away per Statcast™, to break a tie for good. "You want to go out there and try to get a win on a special night like this," Howard said. "Being able to get something to hit and having it land on the other side of the fence -- it's the bonus." After circling the bases, Howard re-emerged from the dugout for a curtain call. He couldn't remember the last time he'd done so. "It's been a while," Howard said. "Felt great. I mean, to be able to do it in that situation in a night like tonight, it was pretty cool." Howard's slam, the 14th of his career and first since 2014, continued the Rockies' downward spiral. Colorado had pulled a game over .500 and three games back of a Wild Card spot, but the Rockies have lost seven of nine games since. Friday's pitching matchup was anything but nostalgic, featuring a pair of rookies in the Rockies' slumping Jon Gray and the Phils' Jake Thompson, making his second MLB start. Thompson bounced back nicely from a 4 1/3-inning, six-run debut to toss five innings of three-run ball, though not without the red-hot Charlie Blackmon touching him for a home run. The Rockies' center fielder added two more big flies in the seventh and ninth for his first career three-home run game. Over the last week, Blackmon is 19-for-33 (.576) with six home runs. "I felt pretty good -- I imagine that's what it's like to be Nolan Arenado on a day-to-day basis -- that's as close as I get," said Blackmon, referring to the Rockies' third baseman, who has 30 homers this season. But with Gray throwing 111 pitches and lasting just 4 1/3 innings, the Rockies didn't get the starting pitching a team that was coming off a 4-hour, 3-minute game in 100-plus degree heat needed to keep up its energy level. "No question, you're already a little bit low and then you're standing around out there on defense, it doesn't help," Rockies manager Walt Weiss said.

  • After a 13-pitch at-bat to lead off the first, Cesar Hernandez ripped a ball into the right-center gap. As Gerardo Parra scrambled to field it, Hernandez was wheeling around the bases and landed on third for his MLB-leading ninth triple of the season. Odubel Herrera poked a fastball into left the next play, scoring Hernandez to give the Phillies an early 1-0 lead, and followed it by swiping his 19th bag of the season. Hernandez matched Herrera on the bases the next inning, stealing his 12th base after an eight-pitch walk.
  • Hernandez had plate appearances of 13, eight and 13 pitches against Gray. He tripled, walked and struck out in those and saw 34 of Gray's 111 pitches (30.6 percent).
  • The Rockies hoped to erase a baserunner and possibly make the fifth easier on Gray when they challenged a safe call at second base on Maikel Franco's fielder's choice grounder with one out. But after 2 minutes, 25 seconds, the replay official ruled that there was no angle that showed definitively that shortstop Daniel Descalso's right foot was on second base when he received DJ LeMahieu's throw in an atempt to retire Aaron Altherr. The call stood, Gray faced Howard with nowhere to put him, and Howard smashed the Rockies -- again.
Jerad Eickhoff (7-12, 3.78 ERA) looks to avenge his last start against the Rockies on Saturday at 7:05 p.m. ET. In his first meeting vs. Colorado at Coors Field, the Rockies put up a six-spot in the sixth, en route to a season-high eight runs allowed by Eickhoff in 5 1/3 innings.


4 K Inning – When Jake Thompson struck out four Rockies in the second inning of the Phillies' 10-6 win Friday night, it was more than just a fun anecdote. It proved he can put away Major League hitters. The one knock on Thompson has been that he doesn't have strikeout stuff. Despite his dominant run at Triple-A before making his Major League debut on Saturday against the Dodgers, Thompson didn't fan more than six in a single outing, even while posting a 1.08 ERA over his final eight Triple-A starts. Thompson had so ignored the punchout, he didn't even realize he had completed the rare four-strikeout inning until he was back in the clubhouse icing his arm. "That's definitely a first," Thompson said, which is not surprising, as he had seven starts just this season with fewer strikeouts than he recorded in the second inning. It was hardly a breeze to get there, though. Thompson's first victim wasn't so much a victim as a benefactor. David Dahl swung at and missed a curveball in the dirt and hustled to first. A single and an error brought Dahl home. But Thompson stranded Gerardo Parra and Nick Hundley, the two batters who reached after Dahl's strikeout. Parra and Hundley didn't even advance a bag, as Thompson sent down Ben Paulsen, Daniel Descalso and Jon Gray consecutively on strikes to end the inning and the scoring threat. "A lot better than the first one, that's for sure," Thompson said, reflecting on his debut, when he struck out one and allowed six runs in 4 1/3 innings. "I felt more comfortable out there. I was able to spin the ball for more strikes, which I wasn't able to do in my first outing." Although Thompson progressed a mile in one start, Phillies manager Pete Mackanin is still excited about what's to come. Thompson allowed only two hits, but he issued three free passes. "He was a little erratic," Mackanin said. "His command wasn't the greatest, but he battled, and like I said, this is a very tough team. They've got a great offense." Thompson sees greener pastures ahead, too, after picking up his first MLB win. "It's kind of nice to get the first one out of the way," Thompson said. "Hopefully I'll gain more confidence on the mound and keep it rolling."

Phillies Honor Thome – No player on the Phillies' Wall of Fame had a shorter tenure with the Phillies than Jim Thome. But perhaps no player better represented the rebirth of baseball in this city than he did. The Phillies had been perennial doormats in the National League East for years, when former general manager Ed Wade signed Thome to a six-year, $85 million contract in December 2002. "Overnight he changed the way people looked at the Phillies," former Phillies manager Charlie Manuel said during Thome's Wall of Fame induction ceremony Friday night at Citizens Bank Park. Thome led the National League with 47 home runs in 2003, as the Phillies fell just short of the National League Wild Card. He hit 42 homers in 2004 and seven more in 2005, finishing the season on the disabled list. Ryan Howard emerged in his shadow, winning the 2005 NL Rookie of the Year. The Phillies traded Thome to the White Sox that winter, but the baseball renaissance he started in Philadelphia did not fade. "I don't think one guy actually comes in and changes things," said Thome, who rejoined the Phillies briefly in 2012. "I think what happens is, if a guy signs, you see other guys follow. And even though you don't see at that moment, say a world championship that season, eventually you're working towards that. When I came here and Ed and Ruben [Amaro Jr.] and Mr. [Bill] Giles and Mr. [David] Montgomery, all those guys kind of told us what the plan was. It put us in a position where we felt really good about what Philadelphia could be. I felt the love in a lot of areas, not only in the organization. You could see there was something special here that was about to emerge." Manuel introduced Thome, who stood alongside fellow Wall of Famers like Mike Schmidt, Steve Carlton, Darren Daulton, Mike Lieberthal, Tony Taylor and Jim Bunning. Former teammate Bobby Abreu unveiled Thome's Wall of Fame plaque. A highlight video captured the excitement of Thome's arrival and his many big moments with the Phillies, including his 400th career home run. Former teammates Jimmy Rollins, Chase Utley, David Bell and Nick Punto wished Thome congratulations with recorded messages on Phanavision. So did country music star Tim McGraw. Of course, Thome never got his World Series with the Phillies or anybody else over the course of his career. It is perhaps the only thing on his baseball bucket list he could not check off. But Thome still rooted hard for the Phillies, who won the World Series in 2008. He showed up to Game 4 at Citizens Bank Park and watched Game 5 at home. "The business of the game, that's kind of how things work," Thome said. "I moved on, [Howard] got to emerge, which helped the Phillies along with my other teammates that I got to play with. I was just so happy that they were able to accomplish that, because when you play as many games as we do, we're ultimately brothers. You do root for your brothers." And Friday night Thome joined an elite Phillies brotherhood. "You are humbled that they would think that highly of you to put you in a great fraternity," Thome said. "Baseball Hall of Fames -- they just don't give people that honor. To be voted by the fans -- that's something special. I know that I didn't play here long, and I know there are so many guys that are going to be in this that are deserving. I just feel so honored that they would think of me to put me in."

Hoping For A Quick Recovery – The Phillies still need a starter Sunday against the Rockies and possibly one Wednesday against the Dodgers. Triple-A Lehigh Valley left-hander Adam Morgan is an option to start Sunday. The IronPigs scratched him from Friday's start, making him available to face Colorado. Phillies right-hander Jeremy Hellickson said he still has some soreness in his back after leaving Wednesday's game against the Dodgers after the fifth inning. He was scheduled to see a team doctor Friday night, but he thinks he is likely to pitch Wednesday. "It feels better," Hellickson said. "Just a tad sore. All the stuff they had me do today felt fine." The Phillies placed Zach Eflin on the 15-day disabled list Tuesday with patellar tendinopathy in his knees. He had a MRI exam scheduled Friday, but those results were not available. It is unclear if Eflin will pitch again this season. "He's had enough good starts where he's been impressive at times," Phillies manager Pete Mackanin said. "And he's had chronic knee issues as it is. If they decide to take care of it now, I think that may be a good idea. But I'll leave that up to the medical people. Bring him back 100 percent next year. We'll see what they say."

Waiver Claim – The Phillies claimed Patrick Schuster off waivers from the A's. and optioned the left-hander to Lehigh Valley. He allowed nine hits, eight runs, six walks and struck out six in 6 2/3 innings in five appearances this season with Oakland. He had a 1.16 ERA in 32 appearances with Triple-A Nashville.

Today In Phils History – It was a record setting day for pitcher Bill Kerksieck and the Phillies on this day in 1939 as the pitcher surrendered 6 homeruns including 4 in 1 inning to tie 2 MLB records. The team turned the tables on the Giants in 1948 as the 1st 9 Phillies to come to the plate scored before a single out was made setting a new NL record. Karl Wallenda returned to the Vet on this day in 1972 to traverse a cable strung between the foul poles between the games of a double header. On this day in 1985, Darren Daulton hit his 1st MLB homerun off of the Mets Rick Aguilera. 2 years later, the Cardinals defeat the Phillies 4-2 in 13 innings despite not recording a single OF putout or assist (it was the 1st time it had happened since 1905). The following season, in 1988, Paul Owens was inducted into the Philadelphia Baseball Hall of Fame (the precursor to the Wall of Fame).

The Phillies are currently 54-63 this season putting them on pace to beat most preseason predictions. All time, the Phillies are 48-49-0 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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