Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Phillies Lose Despite Help From Umpire

GAME RECAP: Pirate Beat Phillies 5-3

The Pirates were three outs away from a five-game losing streak Tuesday night before Sean Rodriguez stopped their September skid. Rodriguez lined a three-run homer to right field off Phillies closer Jeanmar Gomez, leading the Bucs to a 5-3 win at Citizens Bank Park. "It's easier said than done, but you try to simplify it," said Rodriguez, who set a new career high with his 13th homer. "You just try to execute. That's all you can do and just hope it works out. Today, I was able to come out on top." But they snapped that streak -- and their four-game slump -- to undo the Phillies' one-run lead on Tuesday. Francisco Cervelli drew a leadoff walk, Jordy Mercer doubled to right and Rodriguez ripped his second career pinch-hit homer. Left-hander Tony Watson slammed the door in the bottom of the ninth, picking up his 12th save. The Bucs had lost 140 straight games when trailing after eight innings, with their last such win coming on July 12, 2014, against the Reds. But they snapped that streak -- and their four-game slump -- to undo the Phillies' one-run lead on Tuesday. "We were talking about it in there tonight because they kept bringing it up on the TV. I heard it 37 times in the ninth inning," Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said. "It's something that's really peculiar, and I'm really glad it's over." The Pirates got another strong start from rental right-hander Ivan Nova, who struck out 11 over six solid innings. By the end of the fourth inning, Nova had struck out each hitter in the Phillies' lineup at least once. He left after allowing two runs (one earned) on five hits and a walk. In eight starts with the Pirates, Nova has put together a 2.41 ERA with 43 strikeouts and only three walks in 52 1/3 innings. "All my pitches were working," Nova said. "Getting ahead in the count, and the curveball was sharp. … Be able to throw it for a strike and bounce it when you need to, that's one of the things that I've focused on." Phillies rookie Alec Asher permitted two runs on four hits and three walks while striking out four in 6 1/3 innings. With the game tied in the eighth inning, Freddy Galvis knocked lefty Felipe Rivero's 0-1 fastball to deep center field for a sacrifice fly, driving in the go-ahead run. "That's a shame to lose that game, the way the guys hung in there and battled," Phillies manager Pete Mackanin said. "We kind of shot ourselves in the foot. It was a good game for eight innings -- until the ninth."

  • Phillies rookie Roman Quinn is getting an opportunity to prove himself in the season's final weeks, and he made the most of his opportunity Tuesday. He singled and scored the tying run in the fourth, reached on a bunt single in the sixth that moved a go-ahead run into scoring position and singled and scored a run in the eighth. "It's definitely a big part of my game, and I want to use it as much as possible," Quinn said about his speed. 
  • Asher has fared well in his first two starts of the season, posting a 1.46 ERA (two runs in 12 1/3 innings). After a scoreless start last week against the Nationals, he allowed four hits, two runs and three walks and struck out four in 6 1/3 innings against the Pirates. Asher might have pitched longer, but he walked two batters with one out in the seventh. One of those runners eventually scored on a Michael Mariot wild pitch to tie the game, 2-2. "Obviously, I don't want to give up three bases that late in the game, but it happens," Asher said. "The best thing is just to learn from it."
  • Gomez has fallen on tough times recently. He has a 9.00 ERA (12 earned runs in 12 innings) in 14 appearances since Aug. 14. He has blown two saves this month in which he did not retire a single batter. "I feel really confident," Gomez said. "It was a tough day. Tomorrow is another day."
  • Pirates manager Clint Hurdle was ejected in the sixth inning for arguing that first-base umpire Alan Porter interfered with Frazier's route to first base on what would have been an inning-ending double play. Instead, Howard reached safely on a grounder to first base and Cesar Hernandez scored to give the Phillies a 2-1 lead. 
Phillies right-hander Jake Thompson faces the Pirates on Wednesday night in the third game of a four-game series at Citizens Bank Park. The rookie had a 9.78 ERA after his first four starts this season, but he has a 2.33 ERA (five earned runs in 19 1/3 innings) in his last three.


Game Changing Speed – For a long time Phillies fans had heard only stories about Roman Quinn's speed. The man can run, but Tuesday night at Citizens Bank Park might have been the first time many had seen how Quinn's speed can affect a game. He played a significant role in a 5-3 loss to the Pirates, a game spoiled by Jeanmar Gomez's second blown save this month in which he did not retire a single batter. Quinn singled and scored a tying run in the fourth inning, put a go-ahead run into scoring position with a bunt single in the sixth and singled and scored a short-lived go-ahead run in eighth. "It's definitely a big part of my game and I want to use it as much as possible," Quinn said about his speed. Quinn is the organization's No. 8 prospect, according to Phillies manager Pete Mackanin said earlier this week that he plans to give Quinn an extended look in the final few weeks of the season. He started him Sunday in center field, started him Monday in right and started him Tuesday in left. "He's an exciting player to watch," Mackanin said. Quinn singled to center to start the fourth. He advanced to second on a wild pitch that travelled a few feet away from Pirates catcher Francisco Cervelli. A slower-footed player would have remained at first, but Quinn reached second easily. "We did early baserunning today, and that's one thing we worked on -- pitches in the dirt," Quinn said. "It was almost a reaction, like, I already did this. It was just a reaction, for sure." Quinn later scored when Ryan Howard hit a ground ball into the defensive shift in shallow right-center field. Quinn had slowed down as he reached third base only to see Pirates second baseman Adam Frazier boot the ball. He turned on the jets and scored easily to tie the game at 1. "I thought the ball was right at him," Quinn said. "But I picked up the ball real quick and reacted again." Quinn dropped a bunt in front of Pirates pitcher Ivan Nova in the second. Quinn moved down the first-base line so fast that Nova did not even bother to throw to first. Cesar Hernandez advanced to second on the play and later scored to give the Phillies a 2-1 lead. "Cesar had a good at-bat," Quinn said. "We've got a runner on first, no outs, I felt like it was a great time for me to bunt, especially with a drag. I got a good pitch to bunt and got it down." Quinn also fell behind Felipe Rivero, 0-2, in the eighth, but worked a one-out walk. He later scored from third on Freddy Galvis' sacrifice fly to give the Phillies a 3-2 lead. "It's good to see a guy that can run like that," Mackanin said. "There's a few of them in the game and he's one of them. I'm anxious to see him, going forward."

Today In Phils History – Ed Sanicki hit a homerun in his 1st MLB at bat against Pittsburgh in 1949 and connected for 2 more later that month which were his only 3 hits in 13 at bats that season. After hitting a walk off homerun the previous day to beat Warren Spahn and Milwaukee, Johnny Callison repeated the feat on this day in 1962 against St. Louis which was the 1st time in franchise history that the team won back to back games on walk off homeruns. Randy Lerch made a dubious debut in 1975 entering the game in the 9th and surrendering a walk and 4 hits (including a grand slam) in the Phillies 13-7 win over the Cubs. Bobby Dernier got a hit in his 1st MLB at bat in 1980 and followed it up with a walk or hit in his next 4 plate appearances which was the longest such streak to begin a career since 1957. 4 years later, backed by 2 jacks by Mike Schmidt, Steve Carlton collected his 235th win as a Phillies breaking the franchise record held by Robin Roberts. Despite striking out 12 times against Sid Fernandez in 1990, the Phillies defeat the Mets 4-1 mirroring a performance the previous week against David Cone and the Mets. In the 1st game of a double header in 2008, Chase Utley is plunked in the 6th inning for the 26th time that season breaking the record that he set the previous year. Roy Halladay clinched a playoff birth for the Phillies in their 146th game of the 2011 season with a complete game shutout of the Astros which is the earliest the Phillies had ever clinched a playoff spot surpassing the record set in 1915 by one game. 2 years later, after blowing a 3 run lead, Jonathan Papelbon grabbed his crotch while exiting the field to a cascade of boos from the stands resulting in a 7 game suspension (he claimed it was merely an equipment adjustment). There have been a whole host of debuts that have happened on this day the most notable of which were Darin Ruf (2012), Sparky Lyle (1980 – with the Phillies), Pete MacKanin (1978 – with the Phillies), Jim Konstanty (1948 – with the Phillies), Granny Hamner (1944), and Andy Seminick (1943). Finally, happy birthday to 3 players who had brief but memorable tenues with the team: Delmon Young (1985), David Bell (1972), and Kid Nichols (1869).    

The Phillies are currently 64-81 this season putting them on pace to beat most preseason predictions. All time, the Phillies are 60-45-1 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.

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Big Night For Phillies Veterans And Rookies

GAME RECAP: Phillies Flank Pirates 6-2

The Pirates kept skidding through September on Monday night at Citizens Bank Park, and Gerrit Cole's return from the disabled list did little to stop their fall from .500. Cole surrendered five runs in two shaky innings as the Phillies handed the Pirates their fourth straight loss, a 6-2 decision to open a four-game series. The Pirates have lost 12 of their last 14 games, falling four games below .500 for the first time since June 28. They remain far removed from the leaders of the National League Wild Card pack, and their six-game deficit held steady due only to losses by the Mets and Cardinals on Monday night. Officially eliminated from the NL Central race on Sunday night, the Pirates faded farther from the postseason picture on Monday night with 20 games remaining. "It was just a bad night," Cole said. "I put us in a huge hole early. That's not what we needed." Freddy Galvis homered off Cole, making his first start since Aug. 24 due to elbow inflammation, and rookie Roman Quinn recorded his first Major League hit and RBIs -- on a two-run double in the second inning -- as well as a stolen base off the struggling Cole. Jorge Alfaro, another highly regarded Phillies rookie, recorded his first big league hit off Jared Hughes in the eighth inning, reaching safely on a swinging bunt down the third-base line. "Roman Quinn had a nice night," Phillies manager Pete Mackanin said. "It was a good night all around." The Phillies held the Pirates to five hits and three walks on the night. Starter Jeremy Hellickson gave up an unearned run on three hits while striking out six over 6 1/3 innings, easily outdueling Cole. The Pirates' ace a year ago, Cole's ERA climbed to 3.88 as he grinded through two innings on 55 pitches, allowing four hits and tying a career high with four walks. "Today it was like he was trying a little more," catcher Francisco Cervelli said of Cole. "He hasn't pitched in a long time. Maybe the next one, it'll be better."

  • Giving the opposing pitcher a base on balls rarely works out. Just ask Cole. The Phillies had two runs in and a runner on second with one out in the second inning, but Cole had a chance to limit the damage with Hellickson at the plate. Instead, Hellickson and Cesar Hernandez walked to load the bases. Quinn followed with a two-run double and another run scored when Maikel Franco grounded out to the right side, giving the Phils a commanding early lead.
  • The game could have gotten away from Hellickson early. He should have been out of the first inning, but Gregory Polanco's two-out grounder went through the legs of Howard to allow an unearned run to score. Unfazed, Hellickson struck out Jung Ho Kang and then allowed just two more singles before leaving the game with one out in the seventh. "It's such a good changeup that it plays. The one thing you try to do as a hitter is sell out to it, give in that you're going to get beat with a couple fastballs along the way," Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said. "It's a premium pitch for him. … Then he continued to make pitches."
  • "I'm sure [Jorge] Alfaro is going to tell everybody years from now that it was a line drive to center field."-- Mackanin, on the first Major League hit by Alfaro, a dribbler up the third base line.
  • Galvis hit his 18th home run of the season in the second inning, continuing a power surge that nobody saw coming. The long ball off Cole came in the 518th at-bat for the 5-foot-10 switch-hitter. Coming into this season, he had 20 homers in 1,073 Major League at-bats and just 25 in 2,399 Minor League at-bats.
Right-hander Alec Asher will make his second big league start of the season at 7:05 p.m. ET on Tuesday at Citizens Bank Park. Asher held the Nationals to two hits and a walk over six scoreless innings in his last start.


First Hits – Outfielder Roman Quinn and catcher Jorge Alfaro now have one more thing in common in addition to being top Phillies prospects -- Nos. 8 and 4, respectively, according to -- and being called up by the Phillies on Sunday after Double-A Reading's season ended. Both players got their first Major League hits in Monday night's 6-2 win over the Pirates at Citizens Bank Park. Quinn's was a hard-hit double to left-center in the second that also resulted in his first two RBIs. He had recorded his first stolen base in the first inning after walking with one out and nobody on. In the sixth he doubled again, a long drive to dead center that almost cleared the fence. Alfaro, who is expected to get his first big league start Tuesday night, made his Major League debut as a pinch-hitter in the eighth and reached on a swinging bunt up the third-base line. Manager Pete Mackanin said he expects Quinn, 23, to play a lot in the final three weeks of the regular season and that Alfaro, also 23, could get between six and eight starts. "They're not going to be able to establish themselves, but they're going to be able to make a really good first impression," Mackanin said. "They could make a statement." Said Quinn, who was showered with ice by his teammates at his locker after the game: "It always feels good to get the first one out of the way. And it felt great. This is a dream come true, and I'm looking forward to it." Said Alfaro: "I was really excited. It was nice to get an at-bat. I was really nervous. So I think it will help me [Tuesday], because I have an at-bat already. Now I'll try to make good contact."  While Mackanin will get a good look at the speedy Quinn in the final 18 games, he won't always be looking at him in center field. Quinn, long viewed as a potential center fielder of the future, made his Major League debut Sunday at his natural position. Monday night, though, he was in right. The reason is simple. Odubel Herrera, a converted second baseman, has only started in center this season. "We don't want to send any message to Odubel. He's our center fielder right now," Mackanin said. "Then we'll look at the whole picture at the end of the season and see what we've got and see what makes the most sense." Herrera profiles as a left fielder, but the Phillies will keep their options open. Quinn, who batted .302 and had 36 stolen bases in 77 games between the Fightin' Phils and a Gulf Coast League rehab assignment, was used all around the outfield this season, and that will continue in the big leagues. "I'd like to see him in all three positions," Mackanin said.

Mound Stability – So much of the Phillies' focus has been on the young pitchers this season, and that's understandable. Jerad Eickhoff, Jake Thompson, Vince Velasquez, Aaron Nola, Zach Eflin and Adam Morgan are among the arms the organization hopes might anchor their rotation for years to come. In a 6-2 win over the Pirates on Monday night at Citizens Bank Park, though, 29-year-old right-hander Jeremy Hellickson was a reminder of the value of a savvy veteran. He earned his team-leading 11th victory by allowing just one unearned run on three singles in 6 1/3 innings. Hellickson can be a free agent at the end of the year. That means decisions have to be made. The Phillies could try to sign him. They could make him a qualifying offer, meaning that they'd get a compensatory Draft pick if he rejects it, but they could end up paying him around $16 million for one year if he accepts. Strictly from a baseball perspective, manager Pete Mackanin thinks the decision is easy. "I'd like to see him back," Mackanin said. "He's been a stabilizer for us. He gives us a lot of innings." Hellickson has been steady much of the season, but he came into Monday night with a 6.75 ERA in his previous three starts. "I think the last couple games I was getting ahead of guys and just wasn't able to put them away," Hellickson said. "And I gave up some big home runs with guys on base. I was just one pitch away from those games, and this time I was able to put guys away when I got ahead, for the most part." Hellickson gave up an unearned run in the first, but he was able to settle down after needing 29 pitches to get through that inning. "I knew after that I had to bear down and throw strikes and get some early outs the next few innings to go six or six-plus," Hellickson said. "It was just commanding both sides of the plate. I lost command of the fastball to a few guys, but I was getting ahead and making good two-strike pitches." Hellickson ended up throwing just 80 pitches in his last 5 1/3 innings. Said Mackanin: "He was outstanding. No earned runs. He pitched extremely well."

Looking Toward The Off Season – Could the Phillies sign a veteran free-agent bat this winter? On one hand, the Phillies have consistently said they don't expect to be big players in the free-agent market until they view themselves as legitimate contenders. On the other, they added veteran starters Jeremy Hellickson and Charlie Morton last offseason to stabilize the talented but young and largely unproven rotation. A case could be made that the same principle applies to the lineup. Rumors surfaced recently that hitters like the Marlins' Martin Prado or the Rangers' Ian Desmond could be on the radar. Without commenting on specific names, manager Pete Mackanin said before Monday night's series opener against the Pirates at Citizens Bank Park that he believes there would be two benefits to such a move. "I'd like to get a professional hitter, or even two," Mackanin said. "I think it takes pressure off the young guys when you have [Tommy] Joseph, [Cameron] Rupp and even [Maikel] Franco in the middle of your lineup to produce runs. Your first year in the big leagues, that's tough to be called upon to be the run producer. "So if you have a guy you can count on to give you quality at-bats consistently, I believe that's important. The other players see it, and it's just as important to have that in the lineup as it is in the rotation." The other factor is that while the manager and coaches have talked to the players about having a better approach at the plate, sometimes it helps to have an established teammate as a role model. "Like the pitching staff," Mackanin said. "You learn from a veteran pitcher by talking to him and asking him questions. By observing and talking about what kind of pitches he throws. Knowing basic situations. With hitting, it's moving a runner from second to third without just giving yourself up with a ground ball to the right side. A deep fly ball to center will get that runner over. With two strikes, what is this guy going to try to do with me? What am I going to do? With a hard thrower, instead of swinging from your heels, take him up the middle or the other way. All those little things determine how good you are at this level." Mackanin noted how the Mets struggled offensively before trading for Yoenis Cespedes before the Trade Deadline last season. "And all of a sudden, everybody started hitting as a group," he pointed out. The Phillies rank last in the Major Leagues in runs scored. Mackanin believes that the team's pitching has been good enough to be competitive for much of the season. "Now we have to figure out how to get more offense," he said.

Today In Phils History – The Dodgers Dazzy Vance failed to get the shutout but completed the no hitter against the Phillies in 1925 (the Phillies scored on a 2 base OF error, errant throw, and sac fly). In 1963, Chris Short beat the Dodgers while setting a new franchise record for strikeouts by a left hander with 14. The Phillies set a NL record when they used 27 players to defeat the Cardinals in 17 innings in 1974 (the teams combined to use a MLB record 51 players during the game). Notable acquisitions on this day include Lee Elia (1958), Sparky Lyle (1980), and Dave Stewart (1985). Finally, Happy Birthday to Rick Wise who was born on this day in 1945.

The Phillies are currently 64-80 this season putting them on pace to beat most preseason predictions. All time, the Phillies are 50-62-1 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.

Monday, September 12, 2016

Homeruns Not Enough To Support Solid Start

GAME RECAP: National Finish Phllies 3-2

While the Nationals are without right-hander Stephen Strasburg -- whose status for the rest of the season is uncertain after he strained the flexor mass in his right arm -- the back of their rotation has been pushed to elevate its game. Left-hander Gio Gonzalez becomes the team's likely No. 3 starter after a season when he has shown flashes of brilliance, followed by spurts of inconsistency. Gonzalez turned in one of his best starts of the season Sunday afternoon at Nationals Park, limiting the Phillies to one run on four hits in seven innings, as the Nationals completed their dominance over Philadelphia in 2016 with a 3-2 victory. Washington set a franchise record with 14 victories against the Phillies in 19 games in 2016, surpassing the 1973 Expos, who won 13 games against Philly. The Nationals' magic number to clinch the National League East dropped to 11. "He seemed like a guy on a mission," Nationals manager Dusty Baker said. "We talked the other day and I told him that he's very important in this equation, especially with 'Stras' out. He responded." The Phillies received a solid start from left-hander Adam Morgan, who pitched into the seventh inning but left after issuing a leadoff walk to Bryce Harper. Phillies' starters allowed four runs in 23 1/3 innings in the series. "They can't say we're a pushover," Phillies manager Pete Mackanin said. "Our starters really battled and pitched well this whole four-game series. That's really a good sign with these young pitchers. The usual answer on the hitting. But I'm really happy with the starters." The next batter, Anthony Rendon, roped a run-scoring double off the wall in left field to give the Nats the lead. Later in the inning, Rendon scored the decisive run on a passed ball. Mark Melancon pitched a scoreless ninth to seal Washington's victory for his 41st save of the season.

  • Morgan is trying to give the Phillies' front office something more to think about this offseason. He allowed three hits, two runs and two walks and struck out two in six-plus innings against the Nationals. He has a 2.41 ERA in his last three starts and a 3.64 ERA in his last five after posting a 6.62 ERA in his first 15 appearances (13 starts) this season. "I hope to keep it rolling," Morgan said. "Having the two-seam [fastball] and the changeup, being able to throw inside to righties, knowing when to throw inside to righties, really has been huge. I don't really believe in finesse, crafty lefty, anything like that. I'm me. I'm still going to use my fastball and attack guys but not try to pitch around them or pitch to their weaknesses. I'm going to pitch to my strengths."
  • Did anybody expect Tommy Joseph and Freddy Galvis to hit a combined 35 homers this season? Joseph hit a solo homer to center field in the seventh to tie the game at 1, his 18th, while Galvis hit his 17th homer to right-center field in the eighth to cut the Nationals' lead to 3-2. "These are the same games we were winning at the beginning of the season," Galvis said. "The pitching is doing a really good job. We have to step up and make something happen, try to get some runs for these guys."
  • Joseph's solo homer to center field in the seventh inning tied the game at 1. It was his 18th homer of the season, tying him with Pat Burrell for the third-most homers in the past 43 seasons by a Phillies' rookie (1974-2016). Ryan Howard (22 in 2005) and Scott Rolen (21 in 1997) are first and second. Willie Montanez (30 in 1971) holds the all-time home run record.
  • The Nationals used their challenge in the seventh inning on whether Danny Espinosa was hit by a pitch with two outs in the inning. The call on the field that he was not hit was upheld. Espinosa then grounded out.
Phillies right-hander Jeremy Hellickson (10-9, 3.90 ERA) faces the Pirates in a series opener Monday night at Citizens Bank Park. Hellickson hopes to get back on track after struggling recently. He is 0-3 with a 6.75 ERA in his last three starts, although he pitched six innings in two of them. Prior to that, Hellickson had a 2.45 ERA in his previous 10 starts.


Remembering 9/11 – Fifteen years after Sept. 11, 2001, the Nationals and Phillies remembered the terrorist attacks of that day with an extended pregame ceremony at Nationals Park. The events included a performance by the Army Drill Team, a recognition of Washington D.C. first responders and a flyover. More than 1,000 midshipmen from the U.S. Naval Academy marched into the outfield, and a group of them performed the national anthem. Nationals pitcher Max Scherzer, who caught the ceremonial first pitch from Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus, said he was glad MLB was recognizing September 11. "We represent something bigger than just the game of baseball," Scherzer said. "We respect that 9/11 signifies much more than just a terrorist attack. It signifies us as a nation mourning a loss, coming together, and let's do something about it." Phillies first baseman Tommy Joseph, whose wife is in the Air Force, was 10 years old on Sept. 11, 2001. He said Sunday that he didn't initially understand the impact of the attacks but came to appreciate its significance, as his friends in the army have been deployed for combat. "I remember sitting at the little pizza joint right down the road from my house," Joseph said. "Some of my friends and parents were there. At the time, you don't know how significant it is. You know it's a terrorist attack. I think the way my parents acted made me realize it was much bigger than I thought it was at the time. I was fortunate enough not to have anybody impacted, but now the older that I've gotten and the more connected I am with the military, it's remarkable to see how it has affected everybody." The Nationals wore jerseys with red, white and blue team logos Sunday, and the first- and third-base lines featured emblems reading "September 11, 2001; We Will Not Forget." Scherzer said he thinks it's important for the country to pause and think about people who died on Sept. 11 and also military members who died in subsequent wars. "Those threats still continue to this day," Scherzer said. "And there's still servicemen and women out there that are putting their lives on the line for our right for me personally to be able to play baseball and do what I love."

Room For Improvement – The final few weeks of the Phillies' season will not change the fact they need to improve their offense next season. The Nationals beat Philadelphia on Sunday at Nationals Park, 3-2. It was the 51st time in 143 games the Phillies have scored two or fewer runs. Only the Padres (53), Braves (52) and Mets (52) have had more games like that. The Phillies remain last in baseball averaging 3.63 runs per game and with a .295 on-base percentage. "These are the same games we were winning at the beginning of the season," Freddy Galvis said. "The pitching is doing a really good job. We have to step up and make something happen, try to get some runs for these guys." The Phillies' only two runs on Sunday came through solo home runs from Tommy Joseph and Galvis. Joseph's homer to center in the seventh tied the game at 1 in the seventh inning, his 18th of the season, Galvis' 17th home run to right-center in the eighth cut the Nats' lead to 3-2. How many people predicted Joseph and Galvis would hit a combined 35 home runs this year? Joseph's 18 homers are tied for eighth among rookies in a single season in Phillies' history. The group includes Mike Schmidt (1973), Greg Luzinski (1972), Pat Burrell (2000) and Buzz Arlett (1931). Joseph is tied for the third-most homers among Phillies rookies in the past 43 years (1974-2016). Only Ryan Howard (22 in 2005) and Scott Rolen (21 in 1997) have hit more. Galvis' 17 homers in a season are the fifth-most in Phillies history by a shortstop. Jimmy Rollins holds the top four spots. The Phillies have hit 142 home runs this year, which ranks 25th in baseball. But they are on pace to hit 163 homers, which would be the most they have hit since 2010 (166). Of course, those homers have not been nearly as helpful with the team's low on-base percentage. They are on pace to have their lowest on-base percentage since 1968 (.294). "When you're an aggressive hitter, you're going to hit mistakes," Phillies manager Pete Mackanin said. "And these guys have hit a lot of mistakes out over the plate. What we're looking for is consistent, quality at-bats. ... You're going to run into balls and hit home runs here and there, but there's also another part of your hitting approach where you have to be more disciplined at the plate, and that's extremely hard to teach." Said Galvis: "I feel good about my defense right now. I've been play good defense for my pitchers and that's a big part of a winning team. I'm happy with that. I feel good with the RBIs and homers, too. But I want to be on base and score more runs, too. I think I have to keep working and try to get more base hits, get on base more, try to steal a couple bases and help the team win more games."

Prospects Promoted – Chase Utley once learned he had been promoted to the big leagues on a bus ride from Scranton, Pa., to Ottawa, Canada. The bus stopped in the middle of nowhere, Utley disembarked, and he waited at a sandwich shop for a ride back into town. Roman Quinn and Jorge Alfaro took a car service from Reading, Pa., to Washington on Sunday morning. "It is a surreal feeling right now, it definitely is," Quinn said before the Phillies' series finale against the Nationals. Quinn is the No. 8 prospect in the organization, according to The Phillies immediately put him in the lineup, hitting second and playing him in center field. Alfaro, who joined the team for a day earlier this month after the Phillies traded Carlos Ruiz, but before A.J. Ellis arrived, started the day on the bench. "I was pretty surprised about it, but I'm ready to go," Quinn said of his start. Quinn figured to be promoted once Double-A Reading got eliminated from the postseason. Like Alfaro, he is on the 40-man roster. Quinn hit .287 with 14 doubles, six triples, six home runs, 25 RBIs, 31 stolen bases and an .802 OPS in 71 games. He missed time this season with an oblique injury and a concussion, which has been the story of Quinn's Minor League career. He has immense talent, but he simply has been unable to stay healthy. "I know, man. It's like everything possible went wrong," he said. But Quinn is with the Phillies, and he is healthy, hoping to make a case for himself to make the Phillies' Opening Day roster next year. "I had a lot of setbacks with injuries and everything like that that kept me back, but it all paid off, all the work I put in paid off and I'm glad to be here," Quinn said.

Today In Phils History – Earl Moore set the new club record in 1910 when he struck out 13 Brooklyn batters. With 4 singles against the Pirates in 1927, the Phillies completed their 5th straight contest without an extra base hit, the longest such streak in the last 100 years. Don Money’s streak of an NL record 163 errorless chances ended in the second inning in 1972. 2 years later, the Phillies set a franchise record and tied the MLB record with 4 pinch hits in an 8th inning comeback win over the Pirates. In 1980, Mark Davis, the Phillies 1st player born in the 1960’s, made his MLB debut with 2 innings of scoreless relief. The Phillies acquired John Denny from the Indians on this day in 1982. 2 year later, Len Matuszek hit his franchise record 3rd pinch hit homerun of the year off of Bruce Sutter giving the Phillies a 6-5 win over the Cardinals. Phillies pitchers go the entire game in 2009 against the Mets without issuing a walk or recording a strikeout but surrendering plenty of hits and runs in the 10-9 Phillies loss. The following year, Ryan Howard made a guest appearance on the show “Entourage” playing himself. Other notable debuts occurring on this day include Jose DeLeon (1992 – with the Phillies), Ken Jackson (1987), and Michael Jack Schmidt (1972). Finally, happy birthday to Stan Lopata (1925), Andy Seminick (1920), and John Quinn and Fred Luderus who were both born on this day in 1885.

The Phillies are currently 63-80 this season putting them on pace to beat most preseason predictions. All time, the Phillies are 42-64-0 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.

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Absent Offense Wastes Stellar Start

GAME RECAP: National Blank Phllies 3-0

Call Bryce Harper "the Natural," at least for Saturday night anyway. His three-run homer in the eighth inning proved to be the difference as the Nationals blanked the Phillies, 3-0, at Nationals Park. With the victory and the Mets' extra-innings loss to the Braves, the Nationals' magic number dwindled to 12 to win the National League East. The Nationals put runners on first and second with one out in the eighth to set the plate for the reigning NL Most Valuable Player. Harper got ahead in the count and smashed the 3-1 offering from Phillies left-hander Patrick Schuster into the second deck at Nationals Park. "I got pretty good wood on it. I felt good. I knew it was out of the yard," Harper said. "I showed a lot of emotions there. I was pretty fired up to get that W. Down the stretch you want to win as many games as you can and get this into the postseason, hopefully. We have to lock this thing up." The homer snapped a 10-game homerless drought for Harper, during which he was hitting .211/.279/.289. "Boy, that was a dramatic home run. That show you how strong he is mentally. After you strike out three times and you hit a home run," Nationals manager Dusty Baker said. "He had a rough night going up to then." The Phillies did get a strong start from right-hander Jerad Eickhoff, who hurled six shutout innings and struck out five Nationals.

  • Eickhoff matched Scherzer, allowing five hits and two walks and striking out five in six scoreless innings. He followed strong performances Thursday from Alec Asher (six scoreless innings) and Friday from Jake Thompson (two runs in 5 1/3 innings) against the Nationals. Philadelphia acquired Eickhoff, Thompson and Asher in the July 2015 Cole Hamels trade with Texas. "Asher said yesterday it's kind of crazy to see all these Rangers up here," Eickhoff said. "It's a cool thing. We all kind of reflect and just look at each other and see how fortunate and lucky we are to have this opportunity to contribute at the big league level." 
  • The Phillies had runners on first and second with one out in the first and runners on first and second with two outs in the third, but could not score. It is the fifth time in the past 18 games the Phillies have been shut out. They were shut out five times in their first 124 games. "No new news," Phillies manager Pete Mackanin said. "We just lack offense."
  • "It is tough. I'm very patient, but it doesn't mean I like what's happening. I don't have to be happy about it." -- Mackanin, on the Phillies' offensive struggles.
  • In the fourth inning, Phillies center fielder Odubel Herrera threw Clint Robinson out at the plate, but Baker challenged the call, claiming that Robinson's left hand touched home plate before catcher Cameron Rupp tagged him out. But the call was confirmed, and the Nationals lost their challenge.
Phillies left-hander Adam Morgan (2-9, 5.90 ERA) pitches Sunday afternoon in the finale of a four-game series at Nationals Park at 1:35 p.m. ET. Morgan has allowed three earned runs in 12 2/3 innings in his last two starts, including two runs in 6 2/3 innings of two-run ball Aug. 31 against the Nationals at Citizens Bank Park.


Hamels Haul Paying Dividends – Jerad Eickhoff could reflect positively about any number of things Saturday night at Nationals Park. The right-hander threw six scoreless innings in a 3-0 loss to the Nationals, striking out five, including Bryce Harper three times on curveballs in the first, third and sixth innings. He has pitched six innings in five consecutive starts and six or more innings in 20 of 29 starts this season, essentially making him the workhorse of the Phillies' rotation. But it also had to feel good to follow strong performances Thursday from Alec Asher (six scoreless innings) and Friday from Jake Thompson (two earned run in 5 1/3 innings), considering they joined the Phillies in July 2015 in the Cole Hamels trade with Texas. "Asher said yesterday it's kind of crazy to see all these Rangers up here," Eickhoff said. "It's a cool thing. We all kind of reflect and just look at each other and see how fortunate and lucky we are to have this opportunity to contribute at the big league level." As the Phillies' season nears its end, it is fair to wonder how each will factor into the Phillies' rotation come Opening Day 2017. Thompson has pitched well in each of his last three starts after struggling terribly in his first four. Asher looked fine in his season debut Thursday, but both of those former Rangers prospects have more to prove. Eickhoff and Vince Velasquez seem to be the only locks at this exact moment, but only because Aaron Nola has not thrown a baseball since receiving a PRP injection in his right elbow last month. Nola said Friday, though, that the elbow is improving and he is anxious to begin his throwing program. Zach Eflin will be returning from a pair of knee surgeries, while Adam Morgan has pitched better lately, but he has to keep it up. The Phillies also figure to acquire at least a veteran starter or two, assuming Jeremy Hellickson rejects the Phillies' qualifying offer following the season. But Eickhoff has been one of the team's few bright spots this season. He is 10-13 with a 3.73 ERA, but his record is under .500 because he has received some of the worst run support in baseball. Eickhoff's 3.76 runs-per-start average is 78th out of 82 qualified starters in the big leagues. "I kind of expected him to be this type of pitcher," Phillies manager Pete Mackanin said. "It didn't exceed my expectations. I expected him to be a pretty darn good consistent pitcher -- a workhorse type of guy. That's what we were hoping he was going to be and figured he would be, not only because of his stuff, but because of his demeanor. He's all business. He studies. He's always in the video room. He really pays attention and works hard at it. "He just looks like he's out there to beat you. He's mean."

More Options – Phillies manager Pete Mackanin has a few more players to squeeze into games before the end of the season. The club announced Saturday it had recalled outfielder Cody Asche and right-handers Luis Garcia and Phil Klein from Triple-A Lehigh Valley. They also selected the contract of left-hander Joely Rodriguez and designated infielder Taylor Featherston for assignment. The Phillies could see Double-A Reading catcher Jorge Alfaro and outfielder Roman Quinn join the club before the end of the season, too. "At this point it's flip a coin," Mackanin said of finding playing time for everybody. "I don't want to sound down about it, but we've got so many guys, and who do I play? I don't know. It's a guessing game. "But when it comes to something like that, I'm going to play the best defense. Peter Bourjos is hard to take out of the lineup because he provides that defense." It should be a little easier to see Rodriguez, whom the Phillies acquired from the Pirates in a December 2014 trade for Antonio Bastardo. The left-hander went a combined 7-0 with a 2.35 ERA in a combined 53 appearances with Class A Clearwater, Double-A Reading and Lehigh Valley. The Phillies need left-handed relievers, so Rodriguez and Patrick Schuster will have an opportunity to prove themselves in the season's final weeks. Left-hander Elvis Araujo had a 5.60 ERA in 32 appearances with the Phillies. He finished the season with Lehigh Valley but was not recalled. "We want to get a look at Rodriguez," Mackanin said. "We've seen Araujo quite a bit and we know what he's capable of doing. We want to see Schuster, too. We're going to try to run him out there as much as we can." Schuster entered Saturday's 3-0 loss in the eighth inning to face David Murphy and walked him. He then served up a game-winning three-run home run to Bryce Harper. "It wasn't a good audition," Mackanin said. "At least you've got to throw strikes. That situation was meant for a left-handed situational guy."

Losing Patience – Remember when Phillies center fielder Odubel Herrera was walking and seeing more pitches than just about anybody in baseball? Well, he got away from that. He ranked fourth in baseball in walks (33) and sixth in pitches per plate appearance (4.37) through June 3. But Herrera ranks 133rd in walks (21) and 91st in pitches per plate appearance (3.79) since. Asked what has happened to Herrera, Mackanin offered a more philosophical answer. "Rather than look at the game of baseball in little spurts, the test is about six months," he said. "Gene Mauch once said, 'You're going to hit what you're supposed to hit.' If you're a .250 hitter and you're hitting .280 with a month to go, you're most likely going to hit .250. What it's all about is consistency over the course of six months. It's not looking at a guy with a hot week and getting excited about him. What you need is consistent at-bats over the course of six months, and those guys are hard to find. "Everybody is streaky to a point, but the really good ones we're looking for don't have prolonged slumps. Regardless, I don't really care what happened to him after the All-Star break. I'm not saying he's a good first-half player or not. Last year, he went through that issue where he was down to .250 near the All-Star break, but he rebounded to hit .297. For example, if he goes off and gets a ton of hits and ends up hitting .297 again because he gets hot, that's great. "But the last six weeks have not been helpful to win games. You're looking for that guy that's consistent on a daily basis, quality at-bats."

Today In Phils History – Despite Eddie Freed going 4 for 5 with 2 doubles and a triple in his 1942 MLB debut, the Phillies lose the game to Cincinnati. In game 1 of a 1955 double header against Milwaukee, Phillies pitcher Fred Weheimer had a shutout through 8 innings before surrendering a 2 out, full count, grand slam to Del Crandall and taking the loss 5-4. Game 2 saw the debut of Freddy Van Dusen who was hit by a pitch in his only career plate appearance. The Phillies set 2 franchise records on this day in 2004 by using 20 pitchers in the 13 inning matchup with the Mets and Todd Pratt’s homerun in the 2nd breaking the old record of 186 homeruns in a season set in 1977. Other debuts that took place on this date include Ed Sixsmith (1884), Dick Young (1951), Mel Clark (1951), and John Vukovich (1970).

The Phillies are currently 63-79 this season putting them on pace to beat most preseason predictions. All time, the Phillies are 52-57-0 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.