Monday, August 8, 2016

Triple The Fun In San Diego

GAME RECAP: Phillies Stun Padres 6-5

Tommy Joseph's pinch-hit RBI in the top of the seventh inning pushed the Phillies to a 6-5 win over the Padres, in a Sunday rubber match in which Maikel Franco started the first triple play in Petco Park history. Philadelphia tallied 14 hits for the sixth time this season, with seven coming in the fourth inning against San Diego starter Jarred Cosart. "It's a beautiful thing, huh?" Franco said about the triple play. "Oh, I like it." Jerad Eickhoff allowed only five hits over his six innings, but two of those hits were of the home run variety, accounting for three of the four earned runs the right-hander surrendered. Eickhoff struck out five batters without issuing a walk on 98 pitches. Cosart threw five innings and allowed five earned runs. Most of the damage came when he allowed five consecutive two-out hits in the fourth inning, but Odubel Herrera also homered against him in the first. The 26-year-old may take solace in the fact that he didn't walk a batter for the first time this season, but he still surrendered 10 hits. "I don't remember the last game I have not walked somebody," Cosart said after the game. "I really can't tell you that off the top of my head. We'd talked about this being a process when I got over here. There's a lot of stuff that [pitching coach Darren] Balsley and I wanted to accomplish. "No. 1 was learning how to utilize the cut on my fastball, and for the most part I think I'm in a pretty good comfort zone with that right now."

  • Phillies right-hander Edubray Ramos found himself in trouble in the seventh inning when he walked Derek Norris and Jose Rondon to start the inning. But then Jabari Blash hit a grounder to Phillies third baseman Franco, who stepped on third base to begin the 5-4-3 triple play, the Phillies' first since Aug. 23, 2009, when Eric Bruntlett had an unassisted triple play against the Mets at Citi Field. "I've told these guys a couple of times: I thought I would hit into one before I would be on the successful end of one," first baseman Joseph said. "That's pretty awesome, needless to say."
  • The Phillies' seven hits in the fourth inning, scoring four runs were their most hits in a single inning since July 31, 2015, when they had seven in the fifth inning against Atlanta. It spotted Eickhoff a 5-1 lead. Ryan Howard and Carlos Ruiz each got hits in the inning. The veterans have been hitting the ball better recently, despite limited playing time. "That's why Howie's playing," Phillies manager Pete Mackanin said. "Like I said, I tell everybody, you want to play you've got to hit. Howie's swinging the bat well. So is Chooch."
  • "If they ask me to I would because I really owe them one." -- Ramos, on if he owes Franco, Hernandez and Joseph dinner for bailing him out of a jam in the seventh with their triple play.
  • The triple play turned by the Phillies in the seventh inning was the first in Petco Park history and the 32nd in Phillies history.
The Phillies face a former friend in Monday night's series opener against the Dodgers at Dodger Stadium at 10:10 p.m. ET. It will be their first time facing Chase Utley since they traded him to Los Angeles in August 2015. Utley is the greatest second baseman in franchise history, having played for the Phillies from 2003-15. Taking the mound for the Phillies will be Zack Eflin whom the Phillies received from the Dodgers as part of the Jimmy Rollins trade in December 2014.


Triple Play! – Maikel Franco summed up those 4.6 seconds in the seventh inning Sunday at Petco Park perfectly. "It's a beautiful thing, huh?" he said with a big smile. "Oh, I like it." Franco, Cesar Hernandez and Tommy Joseph turned the 32nd triple play in franchise history in a 6-5 victory over the Padres at Petco Park, and it came at a critical point in the game, too. Phillies right-hander Edubray Ramos had walked Derek Norris and Jose Rondon to start the inning when Jabari Blash hit a ground ball to Franco, who caught the ball and quickly stepped on third base before throwing to Hernandez at second. Hernandez took the throw on the bag and threw to Joseph at first to complete the team's first triple play since Aug. 23, 2009, when Eric Bruntlett turned a game-ending unassisted triple play against the Mets at Citi Field. It was the Phillies' first 5-4-3 triple play since April 21, 2007, when Abraham Nunez, Chase Utley and Wes Helms turned one in Cincinnati. "Yeah, as soon as he hit the ball, I knew because it was close to the base," Franco said, thinking he had a shot at a triple play. "I just thought I'd go to second. After that, whatever happens happens." It took Franco 1.01 seconds to catch the ball, step on third and throw to Hernandez, according to Statcast™. It took Hernandez 0.5 seconds to catch Franco's throw and throw to Joseph. Hernandez's throw clocked at 70.2 mph. Blash hit the bag 4.69 seconds after he hit the ball, arriving just a tad after the throw. "I didn't know if he was going to throw to second or first, but I always go there just to be ready," Hernandez said. "Every time there's a ground ball to third base, I go to second. It's my instinct." Joseph said he thought Franco would step on third base and throw to first, but he certainly is glad he got greedy and tried for three. "I've told these guys a couple of times: I thought I would hit into one before I would be on the successful end of one," Joseph said. "That's pretty awesome, needless to say. Maik just knew what he was doing, which is what you're supposed to do as an infielder. Be heads-up. Know the play. We had a good runner to do it on. It all worked out. It was a heck of a play. Fun to be a part of." Franco, Hernandez, Joseph and Ramos said they had never been part of a triple play before. "It was exciting," Hernandez said. "That's pretty cool," Franco said. "It helped the team. First and second, nobody out. To get out of that is a beautiful thing for me and my team." Nobody was happier than Ramos, who got bailed out of a big jam. "It really, really helped me," he said. "If they ask me to (buy them dinner) I would because I really owe them one."

Turning Back The Clock – Ryan Howard and Carlos Ruiz figure to have a little less than two months remaining in their Phillies careers. Both are in the final year of multiyear contracts, and although they have club options for 2017 the Phillies are expected to take buyouts on both deals. But while the end in Philadelphia is likely coming for the pair, they have been hitting the ball well recently, including Sunday in a 6-5 victory over the Padres at Petco Park. Howard singled to center to begin a seven-hit, four-run fourth inning to give the Phillies a 5-1 lead. Ruiz went 3-for-4, which included a RBI in the fourth. Howard is hitting .311 (19-for-61) with four doubles, six home runs, 10 RBIs and a 1.026 OPS in 23 games since June 23. Ruiz is hitting .362 (17-for-48) with two doubles, five RBIs and an .878 OPS in 14 games since June 23. "We both want to be able to go somewhere and play beyond this year," Howard said. "We've got to try to make the most of what we can while we're still here. … I just keep doing my work. I've been doing this thing for 12 years, playing for 12 years. You figure out how to play the game. That's the game of baseball. Things come in waves. You have good waves and you have bad waves." The recent good wave has not changed Howard's feelings about the future. He said he always planned to play beyond this season. Ruiz does, too. "For whatever reason everybody else thinks I'm done playing," Howard said. "I know I can still play. I know I'm still capable of it. This year one bad month and you're done. For me it's about not having the opportunity to rectify the one bad month.” Howard hit .101 with a .421 OPS in May. He hit .140 with a .585 OPS in June, but he hit .250 with a .793 OPS before entering August. "Everybody looks at May and says I can't play anymore," Howard said. "I know I can play and I still want to play in the future. That's where my mindset is. Now it's just taking advantage of the opportunities I get and put it in play for next year." Said Ruiz: "I'm trying to keep myself ready for when I get the opportunity to play. I'm happy with the way I feel right now. I hope it continues that way and I finish the season strong. My body feels great. I feel strong. I don't have any soreness. I would like to play as many years as I can. We'll see what happens."

Fixing The Enigma – Cesar Hernandez is having the best season of his career, but he remains an enigma to the Phillies. The second baseman entered Sunday's series finale against the Padres at Pecto Park hitting .292 with 11 doubles, seven triples, two home runs, 27 RBIs and a .727 OPS in 405 plate appearances. He has hit .362 with an .877 OPS since Phillies manager Pete Mackanin benched him two games in Minnesota in June. "He could be a hell of a player," Mackanin said after Saturday's 9-7 loss to the Padres. But Mackanin's praise came at the end of an answer to a question that has been asked repeatedly this season: Why does Hernandez keep making so many mental mistakes on the field? He got caught stealing third base in the seventh inning Saturday, which befuddled Macakanin and coaches because the Phillies trailed by four at the time. "I have no idea why he went," Mackanin said. In fact, a couple of Hernandez's teammates approached Hernandez after the game and told him that it was not a smart time to run. "I know this situation wasn't ideal," Hernandez said Sunday through an interpreter. "But I'm learning. I'm trying to get better. It's a learning process for me. But I really thought I could have stolen that base. I just wanted to go to third so if there was a deep fly ball I could have scored a run." Hernandez has stolen 11 bases this season, but he has been caught eight times. His 57.9 stolen base percentage is 46th out of 48 qualified basestealers. He also has been picked off once and made four other outs on the bases. The 13 outs on the bases, plus other head-scratching decisions on the field, are why Hernandez's future with the Phillies is not secure. The Phillies' top prospect J.P. Crawford could be the team's everyday shortstop as early as next season, which means Freddy Galvis could compete with Hernandez for regular playing time in 2017 and beyond. Galvis is not the offensive player that Hernandez is, but Phillies coaches love his defense, instincts and leadership qualities in the clubhouse. Second base prospects like Scott Kingery also are moving up through the system. "Cesar is in a rut where he's making too many mental mistakes," Mackanin said. "We've got to keep working with him and talking to him about it. He's got so much talent. We have to corral it and figure out a way to get him on track. That's the one thing he's missing right now. He needs to be a little smarter on the bases, and all-around baseball." Hernandez seems to recognize this, although discussions about focus and concentration with Phillies coaches have not stuck. "It's something I definitely want to get better at," Hernandez said. "I'm going to keep working to learn. It's concentration."

Today In Phils History – It was on this day in 1903 when 12 people were killed and over 200 injured when a section of walkway that hung over the street behind the Baker Bowl collapsed. Gavvy Cravath hit 4 doubles and collected 8 RBI against the Reds on this day in 1915. Despite the Phillies scoring 11 total runs, it was a different story in 1922 when the Pirates recorded 46 total hits in a double header sweep. In 1954, Granny Hamner, Danny Schell, and Herm Wehmeier each tripled in the 8th inning to tie the NL record and beat the Cubs. 2 years later, Ted Kazanski hit and inside the park grand slam against the Giants at the Polo Grounds. Rick Wise threw a complete game 1 hitter against the Dodgers in 1968 with the lone Phillies run coming off the bat of Dick Allen who homered in the 8th. 20 years later, the Phillies and Cubs started the 1st night game in Wrigley Field history only to have the game rained out in the bottom of the 4th erasing Phil Bradley’s name from the history books as the 1st to record a hit. In 1997, Mark Lieter surrendered Mark McGwire’s 1st NL homerun (364th overall). The Phillies lost a few players on this day including Bo Diaz (1985), Mariano Duncan (1995), and Gregg Jefferies (1998). Finally, the team has also honored a couple of players on this day as Granny Hamner was inducted into the Philadelphia Baseball Hall of Fame (the precursor to the Wall of Fame) in 1987 and inducted Juan Samuel into the Phillies Wall of Fame in 2008.

The Phillies are currently 52-61 this season putting them on pace to beat most preseason predictions. All time, the Phillies are 48-62-1 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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