Friday, August 19, 2016

Phillies Rally To Take Final Game From Dodgers

GAME RECAP: Phillies Edge Dodgers 5-4

For the second time in eight days, the Dodgers took a lead into the seventh inning, primed to complete a sweep of the Phillies, but left without one -- victims of the long ball. This time, Maikel Franco had the clutch hit, following in Freddy Galvis' footsteps from last Wednesday in Los Angeles. Franco followed a Galvis single Thursday by rocketing a fastball over the wall in straightaway center to give the Phillies a 5-4 win. "[It felt] very good, very good," Franco said. "It was a fastball right down the middle, and I put a lot of contact on it. I just tried to put it in play." It was Galvis' three-run shot in the seventh last week -- also off Grant Dayton -- that propelled the Phils over the sweep-seeking Dodgers. "That's a game that leaves a sour taste in your mouth," Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said. "We got on [Jerad] Eickhoff early … then he settled in. We got a homer late, but couldn't get anything going against the bullpen." Roberts said the decision to let Dayton face the right-handed-hitting Franco came down to a numbers game. Did he want to let the lefty Dayton face Franco or have a right-hander face Ryan Howard, who has heavier platoon splits? "You've got two of the three where you like the matchup," Roberts said. "The other one, you've got one out of three. So it's kind of like, I'll take my chances on the odds." Eickhoff navigated two Dodgers blasts and completed six innings, becoming the first Phillies starter to do so in nine games. The loss was just the Dodgers' fourth in their past 11 games. Over that stretch, they've gone from two down in the National League West to overtake first place from the Giants, though the loss drops their lead to a half-game as San Francisco defeated the Mets late Thursday.

  • Eickhoff's night did not start out well, as the first three Dodgers who came to the plate scored. But to the bullpen's relief, Eickhoff didn't let that result in a short outing. Eickhoff's line was by no means spectacular (four earned runs, seven hits, eight strikeouts and two walks in six innings), but he gave the Phillies a chance and relievers some necessary rest. 
  • Howard continued his recent power surge Thursday, blasting his 19th homer of the season in the fourth inning. The solo shot accounted for Howard's fifth homer and 13th RBI of the month, and Thursday marked just his ninth game in August. He just looks like he's seeing the ball a lot better," Phillies manager Pete Mackanin said of Howard. "He's made some adjustments to his swing path, and he's more spread out than he has been, kind of reverting back to the way he used to hit." 
  • Phillies first baseman and St. Louis-area native Ryan Howard has feasted against Cardinals pitching during his career. In 68 career games, Howard has hit .335/.437/.661 with 23 homers and 69 RBIs.
  • Brandon Moss will carry a seven-game hitting streak into the series. Moss has nine hits, including four homers, in the first six games of the Cardinals' road trip and ranks second on the team with 25 two-out RBIs. Randal Grichuk has hit safely in six games since being recalled from Triple-A Memphis and has tallied seven extra-base hits during that span.
  • Cardinals reliever Kevin Siegrist is expected to be available again after being held out of the team's last series due to left arm soreness. Siegrist last pitched Sunday, when he was pulled while facing his third batter after experiencing a dead arm feeling. He has made 50 appearances, most of them as the team's setup man.

As they meet in the opener of a three-game series at Citizens Bank Park on Friday, both the Cardinals and the Phillies are expected to feature starters seeking bounce-back performances. Cardinals right-hander Adam Wainwright is eager to erase any lingering memory of his most recent outing, which lasted a career-low two innings. Wainwright allowed seven runs to the Cubs, which came on the heels of a performance in which he surrendered six runs. Wainwright, who is one victory away from his eighth 10-win season, is winless in his past five starts. His season ERA has crept back up to 4.72, and he recently declared this "the worst season of my career." He'll have a chance to begin turning that around against the Phillies, against whom he is 6-2 with a 2.72 ERA in 13 career appearances. Wainwright will be matched up against Adam Morgan. A left-hander, Morgan was forced out of his start Sunday after being hit on the left forearm by a comebacker. X-rays came back negative, and stiffness subsided enough for Morgan to retake the mound Friday. Morgan's last start was his first since returning from Triple-A, and he allowed two runs on five hits in three-plus innings. When Morgan faced the Cardinals earlier this season, he gave up three runs in a four-inning appearance.


Battling Hoff – Jerad Eickhoff's night started with the first three batters he faced crossing home plate. It ended with him walking off the mound celebrating a strikeout. Eickhoff wasn't at his best, but he settled in after a rough first inning and gave the Phillies what they needed in their 5-4 win over the Dodgers: six innings and a chance. Entering Thursday, no Phillies starter in the past eight games had lasted at least six innings -- including Eickhoff in his last outing. He bucked the trend against Los Angeles. Eickhoff rebounded to throw six frames, allowing four earned runs on seven hits with eight strikeouts. Just three batters into the game, he had surrendered three hits, the third of which was a three-run homer by Justin Turner on a fly ball that just cleared the wall down the left-field line. With the bases clear, Eickhoff reset his strategy. "At that point, it doesn't become about anything other than getting as deep in the game as I can," he said. "The bullpen has been taxed the last couple of days, so I wanted to take it as deep as I could." The righty retired the next eight batters he faced, and the only other run the Dodgers got off him came on a solo Yasmani Grandal homer in the fourth. Eickhoff's eight strikeouts marked the sixth time he's hit that mark this season. A handful of them came on his curveball, which kept Dodgers hitters guessing. "He's got a bulldog mentality," Phillies manager Pete Mackanin said of Eickhoff. "He means business when he goes out there. When he has good fastball command, he's really good. Tonight, it wasn't the greatest, but he threw an awful lot of good curveballs." Eickhoff got pinch-hitter Rob Segedin to swing and miss to end the top half of the sixth with two runners on. He excitedly strolled to the dugout after the last pitch, yelling into his glove. In a conventional three innings afterward, Phillies relievers put up a trio of scoreless frames, and the offense rallied for a victory. "From where it started and me having to battle, I was trying to keep us in the game any way I could," Eickhoff said. "That's all I was worried about."

Howard’s Resurgence – When Ryan Howard is swinging the bat well, it can "make a world of difference," Phillies manager Pete Mackanin said Thursday. A surging Howard played a big role in the Phillies' come-from-behind, 5-4 win over the Dodgers. The 36-year-old first baseman hit his fifth homer in nine games, and his bat played a role in Maikel Franco's go-ahead, two-run homer in the seventh inning. Franco crushed a pitch off Dodgers lefty Grant Dayton, who Los Angeles manager Dave Roberts wanted in the game to face the left-handed-hitting Howard, the next hitter. It was the 22nd homer of the year for Franco, who entered the game with a slugging percentage 100 points higher against lefties than right-handers this season. "It's huge, when you have that presence in the lineup swinging the bat like he is," Mackanin said of Howard. Franco's home run was a shot to straightaway center field and also scored Freddy Galvis, who led off the frame with a single. "[It felt] very good, very good," Franco said. "It was a fastball right down the middle, and I put a lot of contact on it. I just tried to put it in play." When Franco and Howard are both swinging the bat well, it gives the Phillies a formidable 1-2 punch in the middle of their order. While both batters have had their share of ups and downs this season, Howard has heated up in the past two months, especially in August. In nine games this month, Howard is hitting .419 with five homers, 13 RBIs and a whopping 1.422 OPS. While his average is only .198 for the season, he's raised it 58 points in 91 at-bats since June 21. "Yeah, I had a bad month," Howard said. "I've been doing this for 12, 13 years, whatever. You're going to have good days, you're going to have bad days. You just got to stick with it." Howard has been platooning with Tommy Joseph for a good portion of the season. But lately Howard has stayed in games against lefty relievers due to his hot bat. Mackanin said that would have been the case again on Thursday regardless of what Franco did in the seventh inning. "He just looks like he's seeing the ball a lot better," Mackanin said of Howard. "He's made some adjustments to his swing path, and he's more spread out than he has been, kind of reverting back to the way he used to hit."

Today In Phils History – Jimmie Foxx made his 1st appearance as a starting pitcher on this day in 1945 allowing only 1 run on 1 hit in his first 6 innings before yielding 3 hits with 2 out in the 7th. In 1969, the Cardinals’ Bob Gibson struck out Dick Allen 4 times (a MLB record 7th time that season which Allen had struck out 4 times). Mike Schmidt was the 1st batter of the game for the Phillies in 1978 and subsequently hit the only leadoff homerun of his career. In 1996, the Phillies parted ways with Mitch “Wild Thing” Williams. With the bases loaded against the Astros in 2005, Todd Pratt hit into an around the horn triple play. On this day a decade ago, the Phillies acquired Jamie Moyer from Seattle.

The Phillies are currently 57-65 this season putting them on pace to beat most preseason predictions. All time, the Phillies are 53-47-2 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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