Monday, August 15, 2016

Phillies Overcome Errors To Complete Sweep

GAME RECAP: Phillies Sweep Rockies 7-6

In a game that wasn't the prettiest contest, featuring fielding and mental errors for both sides, the Phillies prevailed, 7-6, to sweep the series from the Rockies -- their first sweep since taking three from the Braves in the first week of July. Cesar Hernandez missed an easy tag of Charlie Blackmon at second that led to a Rockies run in the third. Odubel Herrera dropped a routine popup on the first play of the game and later broke his bat in frustration over a called strike three. Severino Gonzalez balked runners into scoring position. But those were overshadowed by a rare multi-error game from the Rockies' Gold Glove third baseman, Nolan Arenado, Ryan Raburn struggling to field a ground ball then still trying to get the lead runner and a dubious throwing error-wild pitch combo from Tyler Chatwood, who surrendered six runs (four earned) over four-plus innings. Chatwood had allowed eight earned runs in his previous nine road starts, entering Sunday with a 1.30 ERA on the road but exiting with it up to 1.82. "I think because it was one of the hottest days we played on this year, I think that had a lot to do with it," Phillies manager Pete Mackanin said. "You've got to give credit to the guys that kept hustling throughout. I'm sure there's a lot of weight loss by both teams." Upper-back tightness, the repeat of an injury that landed him on the disabled list earlier this season, limited Chatwood to throwing to one side of the plate, inside to right-handed hitters, outside to lefties. Chatwood had allowed eight earned runs in nine previous starts on the road this season, entering with a 1.30 road ERA but exiting with it up to 1.82. "It spasmed in the first and it stayed tight," said Chatwood, who added that the pain has generally been manageable. "I tried to pitch through it. I know we were short in the bullpen. But obviously, that wasn't the smartest thing to do." The Rockies lost for the ninth time in 11 games, and sloppy play negated a two-homer day from Blackmon, who set a club record with five home runs in a three-game series. "Objectively, you're looking at the game saying, 'We didn't do this well.' … Then we battle back and at the end of the game you lose by a run," said Blackmon, who improved his career-high home run total to 20. "That really hurts, because looking back there are a lot of missed opportunities over the last three and a half hours that could've helped us win."

  • Typically relegated to pinch-hitting duties, Jimmy Paredes got the start in left field and made the most of it. By the fifth inning, he was a triple away from the cycle. He followed an RBI single in the second with a solo homer in the fourth, before doubling home Herrera in the fifth. It was Paredes' first three-hit game since June 26 of last year, with the Orioles, and only his third multi-hit game since joining the Phillies. "It's good," Paredes said. "You try to help your team to win and do the best you can. That's all. I was ready for my chances. They gave me my chance and I did the best I can." 
  • Morgan's day was cut short by a Nick Hundley line drive that hit him on the left forearm. Hundley's liner left the bat at 86 mph and forced Morgan out after three innings. Gonzalez replaced Morgan and immediately balked the two inherited runners into scoring position, though only David Dahl scored, leaving Morgan with two runs allowed over three-plus innings. Morgan exited with what the Phillies called a left forearm contusion, and X-rays came back negative on his forearm.  Morgan was lucky it hit him where it did. "It kind of gets dangerous around the elbow area," he said "But it got me pretty much in the meat of the forearm." With the off-day Monday, Mackanin will "mull it over and see where he's at" before deciding if Morgan will make his next scheduled start. 
  • It didn't take long for the first review on Sunday's sweltering series finale. Herrera dropped a popup, allowing Blackmon to reach first to lead off the game. With the next batter, DJ LeMahieu, at the plate, Blackmon broke for second. He appeared to have gotten in under Hernandez's tag and was ruled safe. But the Phillies challenged, and the call was overturned. Mackanin is 20-for-34 (59 percent) on challenges this season. Blackmon earned a measure of payback when he gave a foot and then took it away to slip into second with a third-inning double. It took a 2-minute, 9-second replay review to overturn the out call.
  • Phillies infielder Cesar Hernandez enters Tuesday's series opener with a 21-game on-base streak. He's the third Phillies player this season to reach base in 20 more straight games.
  • The series win over the Phillies was the Dodgers' fifth in their last six. Combined with the Giants' recent struggles, Los Angeles has rallied from 6 1/2 games back to within one of the division lead.
  • The Dodgers took two of three from the Phillies when they met in Los Angeles last week, winning the first two before losing to Jeremy Hellickson in the series finale.

By now, the Phillies and Dodgers should be pretty familiar with each other. At least they're about to be, with a three-game series starting in Philadelphia on Tuesday at Citizens Bank Park. Only one series separates their three games in Los Angeles and the Dodgers' upcoming visit to Philadelphia. Vince Velasquez doesn't get a break from his hometown team. The Pomona, Calif., native pitched in front of more than 100 friends and family at Dodger Stadium in his start Tuesday. Velasquez didn't exactly put on a show, as he allowed nine runs -- a career-high -- and exited with just one out in the fifth. Tuesday's series opener is a rematch of Velasquez and Dodgers right-hander Kenta Maeda exactly one week later. In their last matchup, Maeda walked a batter for the first time in three starts. He walked two, giving him just three over his past six. Over that stretch, Maeda is averaging less than a walk per nine innings and has a 35:3 strikeout-to-walk ratio. The game will also be Chase Utley's first at Citizens Bank Park since the Phillies traded him last August. He recently admitted that his return "might be a bit emotional."


Bats Backing Pitching – After Nick Hundley shot a line drive back at Adam Morgan that hit the Phillies starter's left forearm in the fourth inning of the Philadelphia's 7-6 win over the Rockies, manager Pete Mackanin took a look at his chart of starts from the past couple weeks. "We've been five innings, four innings, five innings, three innings with our starters," Mackanin said. "That really taxes the bullpen. … It's concerning. We don't want that to happen. Every team has injuries but we don't want that to happen now, especially starting pitching." Two pieces of good news: First, Morgan's forearm doesn't appear to be serious. He left the clubhouse with it wrapped but X-rays were negative and he only has a bruise. The second: Despite the poor showing by their starting pitchers, the Phillies are 8-4 in August. The dog days of summer are upon us and the temperature outside is rising. So is that of the Phillies' lineup. Only three teams in baseball are averaging more runs in August than the Phils. Through the first 12 games of the month, the Phillies are averaging more than six runs a game, including showings of seven, six and 10 in their first sweep of the Rockies since 2012. And they did so while also allowing 15 runs over the three games. It's the most runs allowed over any stretch of three wins for the Phillies all season. Colorado has scored the third-most runs in baseball this season. "It's great to sweep a team like the Rockies, with their offense," Mackanin said. "Everybody's contributing," he continued. "I feel like everybody's getting opportunities. It's good to see. When you win a game, the more players that are involved in that game, the happier I am. I think it unites the team." Although the seven runs Sunday were a team effort, as Mackanin said, Jimmy Paredes led the charge. By the fifth inning, Paredes was a triple away from the cycle. Making a cameo in the starting lineup, Paredes drove in three of the Phillies' run, including one on a solo shot that just cleared the left-center-field wall in the fourth. "You never know when they're going to give you a chance and when they're going to call you to play," Paredes said. "I was ready for my chances. They gave me my chance, and I did the best I can." The win was the Phillies' fourth straight -- their longest streak since the first week of July. They scored four runs in each of the four games, making for the longest such streak by the team since June 2013.

Morgan Recovering – With nobody out and a runner on first base in the fourth inning of the Phillies' 7-6 win over Colorado on Sunday, Nick Hundley lined a ball right back at Adam Morgan on the mound. Morgan attempted to shield himself with his glove, but the 86-mph line drive got him on his left forearm. Phillies manager Pete Mackanin, head athletic trainer Scott Sheridan and the Phillies' infield huddled on the mound around Morgan, who was crouched over in pain. A few hours later in the clubhouse, though, Morgan said he was feeling fine. And he was especially happy to hear X-rays came back negative on the left forearm contusion that forced him from the game. "It's not as bad as it sounds, I guess," Morgan said. "It's just a bruise. [Once] that bruise goes away, I'm good." Mackanin didn't commit to Morgan being able to make his next start. "We're going to take the day off tomorrow, mull it over and see where he's at," Mackanin said "We'll see." Morgan left the clubhouse with his left arm wrapped in a compression sleeve. He threw three-plus innings, allowing five hits, two earned runs and a walk without registering a strikeout. Although it got cut short, Morgan felt he saw the results of what he worked on his five starts back with Triple-A Lehigh Valley. "The two-seam, I've been working on and had a good feel for it," Morgan said. "I was just up today; the two-seam, and confidence in the slider and changeup. Really just a simple game plan: get ahead, strike one. It wasn't apparent today, but it'll get better." The southpaw was replaced by Severino Gonzalez. Morgan threw three-plus innings, allowing five hits, two earned runs and a walk without registering a strikeout. Morgan's exit could be yet another blow to an already depleted Phillies rotation. Morgan was already filling in for Zach Eflin, who is on the 15-day DL and could be done for the year with injuries to his knees and right foot. Jeremy Hellickson's start was pushed back to Saturday, as he deals with a sore back, and Charlie Morton hasn't pitched since April 23 and will miss the remainder of the season. Mackanin was more concerned with the present state of his bullpen, though, rather than the potential future issues on the starting staff. "I looked back at my chart, and we've been five innings, four innings, five innings, three innings with our starters," Mackanin said. "That really taxes the bullpen. Today was kind of hairy for us, because we didn't want to get in a situation late in the game where it was a tie game and I didn't have any pitchers left. So I had to go the extra mile with some of those guys. They did a real good job. ... We don't want that to happen. Every team has injuries, but we don't want that to happen now, especially starting pitching."

Today In Phils History – Don Demeter hit a pair of homeruns for the Phillies on this day in 1962 both coming off of Bob Miller which was actually 2 completely different Mets pitchers. 3 years later, Masanoni Murakami became the 1st pitcher born in Japan to start a MLB game when he took the mound for the Giants against the Phillies (he debuted the previous season but had only pitched in relief). Mike Schmidt hit his franchise record 7th grand slam on this day in 1983 against the Cubs. However, the most memorable moment on this day is the performance of Terry Mulholland on this day in 1990 when he completed a no hitter against the Giants (ironically, Charlie Hayes made a great play to end the game but cost Mulholland the perfect game earlier when he committed an error).

The Phillies are currently 56-63 this season putting them on pace to beat most preseason predictions. All time, the Phillies are 53-59-0 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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