Monday, September 5, 2016

Another Shutout, Another Sweep

GAME RECAP: Braves Blank Phillies 2-0

The bottom two teams in the National League East are trending in opposite directions, which was magnified as the Braves finished a sweep of the Phillies with a 2-0 victory on Sunday afternoon at Citizens Bank Park. Julio Teheran and Jake Thompson matched zeros for all but the second inning, when Matt Kemp provided the lone run off Thompson in Atlanta's sixth win in a row and second straight sweep. Conversely, the loss was the Phillies' sixth in a row and closed out a winless homestand that was bookended by shutouts of the home team. Philadelphia didn't score more than four runs in any of the six losses and averaged only 1.8 per game. "We're striking out too much. We don't have a good two-strike approach," said Phillies manager Pete Mackanin after his team struck out 13 times on Sunday. "I keep preaching about plate discipline; we're not showing a lot of plate discipline. It looks like we're behind fastballs and not putting the ball in play with two strikes." Freddie Freeman added another blast off Michael Mariot in the eighth. Freeman had already doubled earlier to extend his on-base streak to 26 games -- the longest active such streak in the Majors -- and his hitting streak to 11. Ender Inciarte singled in the sixth to move his streak to 15 games. The Braves own the longest active on-base and hitting streaks in the big leagues. "They're threats every time they go up there, both those guys," Braves manager Brian Snitker said of Freeman and Kemp. "You saw today what they can do. They carried us." With 6 1/2 games separating them in the standings, the Braves and Phillies are now the closest they've been since June 27, less than a week after Atlanta's only other winning streak of six games.

  • Thompson's last two starts have been much more like what the Phillies envisioned when they called up the 22-year-old last month. Thompson allowed just one run in seven frames, going that distance for his second start in a row. He's lowered his ERA from 9.78 to 6.48 in his past two starts. "After his first four outings with us, we weren't sure what we were seeing," Mackanin said. "His last two outings, especially today, he pitched extremely well. That was great to see." 
  • It took only 52 seconds to overturn what was initially called a diving catch by Aaron Altherr on a fly ball into shallow center by Jace Peterson in the seventh inning. It was an impressive defensive effort regardless, but replay clearly showed the ball bounce into Altherr's outstretched glove.
  • The Phillies unsuccessfully challenged a call later in the seventh, when Franco tried to tag out Peterson to start a double play. Peterson avoided the tag and was called safe at third, which was confirmed by replay, but Franco still threw out pinch-hitter A.J. Pierzynski at first to get an out on the play.
  • The Phillies and Braves combined to load the bases in four consecutive half innings, and neither team scored a run. Eleven runners were stranded in the process. Franco grounded out to third base in the bottom of the fifth. Nick Markakis grounded into a double play to end the top of the sixth. Peter Bourjos roped a line drive to right field, but it was right at Markakis. Adonis Garcia then grounded out to third to leave three men on in the seventh inning, the last for Thompson. After taking a moment to think, Snitker couldn't recall a time where he saw teams load the bases and proceed to not score for four consecutive half-innings. "I live inning to inning," Snitker said. "Once the inning's over, I'm turning the page and thinking about the next one. In the seventh, I was trying to figure out who to pitch in the eighth. … I guess any team could have blown this thing wide open, but their starter did a really good job. He's pretty good at getting out of trouble, too."
  • Sunday's game came close to breaking a Major League record. At 3 hours and 13 minutes, the Phillies and Braves came 20 minutes short of playing the longest nine-inning, 2-0 game in MLB history. The longest remains the Yankees' 2-0 win over the Twins on July 12, 2013, checking in at 3 hours and 33 minutes.
The Phillies open at three-game series in Miami on Monday at 1:10 p.m. ET. Jerad Eickhoff will take the mound, making his 28th start of the year. Eickhoff (9-13, 3.90 ERA) enters Monday with the team lead in innings pitched at 161 2/3.


Wasted Effort – It's unclear how long Jake Thompson will continue to pitch this season, but the 22-year-old has been making the most of his innings lately. Thompson pitched seven strong frames in a 2-0 loss to the Braves on Sunday at Citizens Bank Park, allowing just one run and striking out six. It was the second consecutive start Thompson has gone seven innings after he posted a 9.78 ERA in his first four Major League starts. "It's nice to get a little momentum going," said Thompson, who gave up his only run on a solo homer to Matt Kemp. "Now I've got a pretty good bulk of innings to work off of. I know what to expect, now I've got to work off that." On Sunday, Thompson skirted through trouble in the sixth and seventh innings. The Braves loaded the bases in both frames, and Phillies manager Pete Mackanin allowed Thompson to stay in the game and work his way out of the jams. Thompson did not allow a run in either inning. In the sixth, the right-hander temporarily lost his control. Thompson issued his first two walks of the game, including a few pitches in the dirt, to load the bases with one out. But he zoned back in after a meeting with pitching coach Bob McClure and got Nick Markakis to ground into an inning-ending double play. In the seventh, Thompson almost got another double play to get out of a jam, but third baseman Maikel Franco did not successfully tag Jace Peterson on the basepaths. An intentional walk to Ender Inciarte gave the Braves another bases-loaded opportunity. Even with his pitch count above 90, the Phillies let Thompson remain in the game, and he got Adonis Garcia to ground out to end the seventh inning on his 100th pitch. "We're trying to develop pitchers who go deep into games," Mackanin said. "I saw no reason to not let him battle his way out of that. He did a great job. I couldn't be happier with his performance. "That's what we're looking for. We're looking for people who will fit in in the future." Combined with his work at Triple-A Lehigh Valley, Thompson has pitched 163 innings in 27 games this year. The Phillies -- who shut down 24-year-old righty Vince Velasquez after his Saturday start -- are monitoring Thompson's workload closely, but it seems he'll get a few more starts in 2016. "The last one was really encouraging," Philadelphia general manager Matt Klentak said before Thompson's Sunday start. "Much like we went into the season without a specific target for Vince, we're going to have to play it out with Jake as well." Added Thompson: "I understand their plan. That's not saying that I won't put up a fight in it. I understand what they're doing. I understand the long-term goals, and whatever is best for this organization, I'm going to do."

GM Pleased – Phillies general manager Matt Klentak told Vince Velasquez on Wednesday that the right-hander would be making his last start of 2016 on Saturday. Klentak was hoping the 24-year-old would end his first full Major League season year on a high note. Seven innings and eight strikeouts later, the GM got his wish. After hitting a rough patch in August, Velasquez looked like a potential future rotation fixture for the Phillies in his last two outings. In starts against the Mets and Braves, Velasquez combined to allow just three earned runs in 12 innings, and he had 15 strikeouts and just one walk in that span. "That's all we really could have hoped for," Klentak said. "... We didn't know exactly when that would be. But as we monitored his workload, his innings, his pitches, the intensity of those innings and outings, this was going to be the right time to do it. We told him on Wednesday. Vince was good with it. Obviously we wanted him to go out on a positive note, and credit to him, that's exactly what he did [Saturday] night." Velasquez ended the year with a 4.12 ERA, throwing 131 innings in 24 starts. The most eye-popping statistic for Velasquez were his strikeouts. He had 152 on the season, including 16 in a shutout against the Padres on April 14. His 10.4 strikeout/nine inning mark was the best among Phillies starters. "It's not easy to strike out 10 hitters per nine in the big leagues," Klentak said. "It's not easy to do that at any level as a starting pitcher, especially in this league. For him to be able to do that for five straight months, that's really impressive." Velasquez had 10 starts in which he went five innings or fewer, including a June 8 outing against the Cubs when he was pulled in the first inning due to an injury. Klentak noted he's hoping to see Velasquez figure out how to go deeper in games as his career continues. "I think we've seen that throughout baseball history, strikeout pitchers mature and become more comfortable in the league," Klentak said. "They understand when it's time to miss a bat and put a hitter away, and when it's time to get some contact. I'm thrilled with the progress Vince made this year." Klentak added it's likely right-hander Alec Asher would take Velasquez's spot in the rotation and start Thursday at Atlanta. Asher is serving an 80-game PED suspension, but it is set to conclude prior to that game. Asher, 24, made seven starts for the Phils last season, going 0-6 with a 9.31 ERA. He is not currently on the Phillies' 40-man roster. Klentak said that he expects approximately six additional players to be called up to the Majors once Triple-A Lehigh Valley wraps up the International League postseason. The Phillies called up three players -- Patrick Schuster, Darin Ruf and Colton Murray -- on Sept. 1.

Today In Phils History – The Phillies ended their double header in 1913 having only scored 1 run but coming away without losing a game (winning 1-0 in game 1 and ending in a 0-0 tie in game 2). The Phillies released Hack Wilson on this day in 1934. Curt Simmons became the 1st MLB player to be called into service in response to the Korean Conflict when he was inducted into the Army on this day in 1950 (he made one more regular season start but missed the World Series that season). 2 years later, Robin Robert won his 23rd game of the season after pitching 17 innings and securing the victory on a Del Ennis homerun. 3 years later, Dodger Don Newcombe defeated the Phillies from the mound and at the plate securing his 20th win and hitting his, NL record for pitchers, 7th homerun. Larry Christenson hit 2 homeruns and got the win against the Mets in 1976. 2 years later, the Phillies claimed current manager Pete MacKanin off waivers from Montreal. With 2 long balls by Mike Lieberthal and Jimmy Rollins on this day in 2004, the Phillies set a record for most homeruns at home in a season, surpassing the mark of 101 set in 1977. Also on this day, Pat Combs made his MLB debut in 1989. Finally, happy birthday to Nap Lajoie who was born on this day in 1874 and Rod Barajas who was born 101 years later.

The Phillies are currently 60-76 this season putting them on pace to beat most preseason predictions. All time, the Phillies are 49-63-3 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