Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Phillies Overpowered By Los Angeles

GAME RECAP: Dodgers Down Phillies 9-4

The Dodgers slugged four home runs, including two by rookie Corey Seager and one from Chase Utley in his first game against his former club, in a 9-4 win over the Phillies Monday night. "It was cool," Utley said of playing against his team of 12 1/2 seasons. "You're still trying to go out there and compete and win. Obviously I know lot of faces in that dugout, but the main goal is to win a game and we did. It was definitely different. Wasn't sure what to expect, but it was exciting to see those guys for sure." Seager set a Los Angeles Dodgers single-season mark for home runs by a shortstop with 21. The franchise record is 22 by Glenn Wright in 1930. "When you don't think he can do any more, he continually exceeds that," manager Dave Roberts said of Seager. "Every time he comes up to bat, something special can happen. His defense has been consistent all year long. He's done so many things for us, obviously he's a special player." Yasmani Grandal also homered with his career-best 17th in support of rookie Julio Urias (2-2), who allowed three runs in five innings while making his final start as a teenager (he turns 20 on Friday)and notching his first win at Dodger Stadium. Two of the Phillies' runs were unearned, scoring on Urias' throwing error. Phillies starter Zach Eflin (3-5) allowed three homers and seven runs in three innings. Joc Pederson had two doubles and three RBIs for the Dodgers. Tommy Joseph hit his 15th homer for the Phillies. "When he's got it, he's good," Phillies manager Pete Mackanin said of Eflin. "When he doesn't have command, he's very hittable."

  • Things got ugly quickly for Eflin, which continued a troubling trend. He allowed five runs in the first inning and has a 13.85 ERA in his last three starts, becoming just the third Phillies starter since 2000 to allow six or more earned runs in three consecutive starts. Sean O'Sullivan (2015) and Joe Blanton ('12) are the others. "It could be mechanical, it could be mentally," Eflin said about recently leaving pitches in the middle of the plate. "I've got to bear down and really execute the pitch. I haven't been doing that and I've got to do a lot better job doing that."
  • The Phillies need a first baseman next season and the rookie Joseph is making his case. His 15 homers are the most by a Phillies rookie since Ryan Howard hit 22 in '05. Joseph is hitting .325 (26-for-80) with four doubles, seven home runs and 15 RBIs in 26 games since July 3.
  • Velasquez has seen the Dodgers before, but much has changed in his career since that relief appearance on Aug. 23, 2015, when he was still with Houston. The two Dodgers he faced have also seen some changes, with Yasiel Puig recently demoted to Triple-A Oklahoma City and Carl Crawford getting designated for assignment in June.
  • Howie Kendrick had a rare day off against a left-handed starter on Monday, but he should be back in the lineup against Velasquez.
  • The Dodgers will be watching a pair of rehabbing starters before Tuesday's game. Rich Hill and Brandon McCarthy are scheduled to throw bullpen sessions to determine if they will make their respective starts on Friday and Saturday.

The Phillies and Dodgers will each have one of their best starters on the mound as Vince Velasquez faces off with Kenta Maeda on Tuesday night at Dodger Stadium. Maeda leads the Dodgers in innings pitched with 125 2/3, while also sporting a 3.22 ERA and 125 strikeouts. He is one of just two starting pitchers who have been in the Dodgers' rotation all season, the other being Wednesday starter Scott Kazmir. Since being activated from the disabled list on June 27, Velasquez holds a 2.85 ERA and has been striking out a batter per inning. His 3.33 ERA leads all Phillies who have thrown at least 60 innings in 2016.


The Slump Continues – Phillies right-hander Zach Eflin has remained calm throughout his recent three-start skid. Turning red is not his style. But he knows he must improve. He allowed seven hits, seven runs, two walks and three home runs in just three innings Monday night in a 9-4 loss to the Dodgers at Dodger Stadium. Chase Utley accounted for one of those runs when he hit a solo home run to right field in the second inning. Eflin is 0-2 with a 13.85 ERA in his last three starts, allowing 22 hits, 20 earned runs, nine walks, six home runs and striking out five in 13 innings. He is the third Phillies starter to allow six or more earned runs in three consecutive starts since 2000. Sean O'Sullivan ('15) and Joe Blanton ('12) are the others. "It could be mechanical, it could be mentally," Eflin said about recently leaving pitches in the middle of the plate. "I've got to bear down and really execute the pitch. I haven't been doing that and I've got to do a lot better job doing that." Eflin was 3-2 with a 2.08 ERA in seven starts before his recent slump, so his struggles have been a bit surprising. "When he's got it, he's good," Phillies manager Pete Mackanin said. "When he doesn't have command, he's very hittable." Mackanin mentioned Eflin has been recently battling knee soreness. "There's a little soreness," Eflin said. "Kind of gone through it every single season. You kind of just wake up and see how you feel. Sometimes you get out there and you just don't feel like yourself. Today was one of those days, but no I don't think it's affected me the past three outings." Eflin's struggles and injuries this season to Aaron Nola and Vince Velasquez are reasons why the Phillies probably want at least one veteran starter in their rotation next season. (There is a good chance they make a qualifying offer after the season to Jeremy Hellickson.) Not that veteran pitchers cannot struggle or get hurt, but the Phillies need more depth in their rotation as they enter Spring Training. "A lot of young guys," Mackanin said. "They're going to have their ups and downs. I remember when Greg Maddux went to the big leagues for the first time, he wasn't as good as he turned out to be. There's a lot of learning to do and a lot of hard work ahead of them." Eflin knows he needs to get back on track. "We're looking for guys who are mentally tough and can overcome their struggles," Mackanin said. "When a pitcher is not pitching well, we want guys who are going to fight and battle their way out of it. We think he has that kind of makeup." Said Eflin: "I've remained mentally tough throughout my whole career. I was brought up in a really good way by my father, realizing and looking at and analyzing situations and stuff. I'm pretty good on that. I really don't get too down on myself. I think about a loving family at home that are all healthy and safe, so I kind of look at it that way. I really kind of thank God more that I'm here and I kind of stay away from being upset or disappointed or being mad."

Nearing Return – Peter Bourjos could rejoin the Phillies as early as Friday when they open a series against the Rockies at Citizens Bank Park. "Then we'll make a move on somebody," Phillies manager Pete Mackanin said before Monday's series opener against the Dodgers at Dodger Stadium. "I don't know who yet. We've talked about some guys." Regardless of what happens, it seems like Bourjos' role will change upon his return. He had been playing nearly every day in right field before he injured his right shoulder in Miami late last month. Aaron Altherr took his place on the 25-man roster, and he is expected to remain an everyday player the rest of the season. That means there is a numbers crunch and a time crunch with Bourjos, Cody Asche, Tyler Goeddel and Jimmy Paredes in the outfield. "I don't know if [Triple-A outfielder Nick] Williams is in the picture," Mackanin said. "I haven't talked about it. It depends on who we send out. But it would be nice to have [Bourjos] in the outfield with his speed." Mackanin said there are no plans to have center fielder Odubel Herrera practice as a corner outfielder the remainder of the season. Herrera has been struggling lately. He has hit .222 with a .641 OPS in 27 games since July 7, although he had three hits Sunday in San Diego. But Herrera has been bothered by an infection in his right foot, which he said has bothered him on the field. "To run, to swing the bat," Herrera told the Phillies' interpreter. "Then I started treatment for it, so it feels much better." Herrera said his foot has been bothering him since the team's last homestand. Does he have any other theories why he has been struggling for longer than that? "I don't know, I don't know," he said. "Who am I to know?"

Looking Back – It is a little ironic that one of the most tightlipped players in Phillies history made one of the most memorable speeches in Philadelphia history. Phillies fans remember the speech well. Specifically, they remember three words Utley uttered at the 2008 World Series championship celebration at Citizens Bank Park. He announced to the crowd that the Phillies were "world champions," only he inserted an expletive in the middle to accentuate the exuberance of a fanbase that had not enjoyed a championship from one of its professional sports teams in 25 years. Utley still hears the famous line from that famous speech -- a Phillies fan sported a T-shirt with those three words this weekend at Petco Park -- even after the Phillies traded him to the Dodgers last August. "I hear it here at this stadium," Utley said before Monday night's series opener between the Phillies and Dodgers at Dodger Stadium. "There are Phillies fans all over the country. I see at last one or two Phillies jerseys every game to be honest and occasionally they say that statement. That was a good time back in 2008 for sure." Utley faced the Phillies Monday for the first time since they traded him, hitting a solo home run in helping hand his former team a 9-4 loss. The Dodgers visit Philadelphia next week. "Probably on the flight I'll think about it a little more," he said about his return to Philadelphia. "I'm excited to go back, say hi to the fans, play in a great stadium. It should be a lot of fun." Phillies broadcaster Larry Andersen kidded Utley and asked if he was worried about being booed. "I hope not," Utley said. He need not worry. The Man will be treated like a prince. His return should include a highlight video and plenty of tips of the cap and standing ovations. (By the way, the Phillies have to play Led Zeppelin's "Kashmir" during Utley's first at-bat Aug. 16, don't they?) "It might be a bit emotional," Utley said. Utley never got a proper sendoff last August. The Phillies and Dodgers completed the trade Aug. 19, but the Dodgers could not contact one of the players involved in the trade, so both teams waited to make the official announcement. So Utley never got the opportunity to tip his cap to the fans during the game as the Phillies planned. "If I had to write it up all over again, it would have gone down a little differently, but you can't change what happened," he said. Utley played for the Phillies from 2003-'15, leaving as the greatest second baseman in franchise history. He entered Monday hitting .250 with 18 doubles, two triples, seven home runs, 32 RBIs and .700 OPS in 94 games. e said he hopes to play next season. There are only seven active players remaining from the '08 team: Utley, Ryan Howard, Carlos Ruiz, Cole Hamels, Jayson Werth, Ryan Madson and Joe Blanton. Jimmy Rollins played for the White Sox earlier this season before being released. But Utley is not wistful for the past. He does not think about the end being near for the '08 team. "I'm trying to focus on me personally and what I need to do on a daily basis to help the Dodgers win," he said. "I think when it's all said and done there will be a lot more memories to look back on but right now it's status quo, get ready for a game." The Phillies got criticized for hanging onto the core of that '08 team too long, something the organization finally acknowledged late in the '14 season. Utley sees it a little differently. "I'm a little biased because obviously I was one of those players," he said. "From an organizational standpoint there's some difficult decisions that you have to make over the course of the years. I'm happy that we kind of hung on and tried to give it another shot. We obviously didn't win, but I enjoyed my time battling to try to win." Fans won't be reminiscing about the past few years next week in Philadelphia. They will be looking back an incredible run from 2007-'11, which included one World Series championship, two National League pennants, five consecutive National League East titles and one heck of a speech that summed everything up perfectly.

Today In Phils History – In 1887 the Phillies beat the White Stockings by a 17-4 score despite only giving up 1 hit. “Wild Bill” Donovan was fired and replaced by Irving “Kaiser” Wilhlem as manager in 1921 because Club President William Baker didn’t believe that Donovan was enough of a disciplinarian. In 1953 battery mates Bob Miller and Smokey Burgess set a MLB record for hits in a game with Miller collecting 4 and Burgess recording 5 including a homerun. Robin Roberts, with Houston at the time, threw a 4 hit shutout against the Phillies in 1965. 11 years later, Roberts was inducted into the MLB Hall of Fame. The hastily organized (thanks to a players’ strike) 1981 All Star Game in Cleveland saw Mike Schmidt hit a homerun to put the NL ahead for good. 2 years later, Pete Rose collected 2 hits bringing his season total to 100 for the 21st consecutive season making him the first player in MLB history to accomplish the feat. In 1990, the Phillies received Tommy Greene from the Braves in order to complete the Dale Murphy trade. Following Greg Luzinski’s induction into the Phillies Wall of Fame in 1999, Billy Brewer surrendered a grand slam to Fernando Tatis of the Cardinals as 1 of a record 5 grand slams hit in the majors that day. 2 years later the Phillies played through excessive heat at the Vet with the temperature on the playing field being measured as 118 degrees as the start of the game and 148.7 by the time the last out was made.

The Phillies are currently 52-62 this season putting them on pace to beat most preseason predictions. All time, the Phillies are 34-70-0 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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