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.

No comments:

Post a Comment