Phillies 2015 – Week Seven
The streaking Phillies opened a ten game roadie in the Mile High City with four against the Colorado Rockies. Their solid month of May and flirtation with success has been fun to watch. But, it brings with it the temptation to abandon the ‘To Do List’ that has been hanging in the personnel department since last June. It is imperative to maintain the organizational commitment to the rebuild. The resurgence of Cole Hamels and Ryan Howard, as well as the continued effectiveness and veteran workmanship of Jonathan Papelbon and Aaron Harang should be catching the eyes of potential trade partners. Hopefully, Pat Gillick, Ruben Amaro Jr. and the front office braintrust can parlay this into a bounteous harvest of young talent.
The Phillies scored all of their runs on two-out hits and Hamels continued his run of excellence by pitching into the eighth inning and striking out seven while allowing only one run. Papelbon was touched up a little in the ninth. But, he held on for his tenth save of the season as the Phils stretched their season-long winning streak to six games. Phillies 4, Rockies 3.
The Rockies plated three unearned runs off of Harang in the first inning and the Phils scratched their way back to tie on RBI hits by Chase Utley, Carlos Ruiz and Maikel Franco in the second and third. The score remained tied until the Rockies touched up Jake Diekman on Troy Tulowitzki’s two-out, two-run double in the bottom of the seventh. The resilient Phillies answered with their own two-run hit in the top of the eighth, again it was the rookie third baseman Franco. But, when catcher Nick Hundley drove Justin DeFratus’ 1-2 pitch out of the yard in the bottom of the eighth, the game was decided and the streak was over. Rockies 6, Phillies 5.
Panamanian rookie Severino Gonzalez, re-called to replace the injured Chad Billingsley in the rotation, was tasked with starting a new winning streak. He was gifted with four runs, including a Ryan Howard home run in the third. Gonzalez finished the fifth, leading 4-1, having thrown only 65 pitches. Manager Ryne Sandberg decided to hand it over to the pen, Diekman, Luis Garcia, Ken Giles and Papelbon were up to the task. Phillies 4, Rockies 2.
With a chance to win their first road series of the season, the Phils sent Jerome Williams to the bump. The pink-gloved right-hander continued his rampage of mediocrity by allowing five runs in five innings, the last two coming on a fifth inning homer by light-hitting back-up catcher Michael McKenry just after Howard had tied the game with a bomb of his own. The Phillie bats were silenced by Colorado’s relievers and the series was split. Rockies 7, Phillies 3.
The weekend meant three tilts against the first-place Washington Nationals in the District of Columbia. For the third time already this season, Sean O’ Sullivan found himself playing David to Cy Young Winner Max Scherzer’s Goliath. The journeyman right-hander fought hard, but surrendered a solo homer to the blistering hot Bryce Harper, after he was handed a 1-0 lead in the second inning, and an RBI double by shortstop Ian Desmond in the sixth. Grady Sizemore and Odubel Herrera were unable to best Nats’ closer Drew Storen in the ninth after the Phils had put runners on first and second with one out. Nationals 2, Phillies 1.
Hamels took the hill riding his own personal winning streak, still scratching, clawing and begging for any run support his offense could provide. The Phillie bats (and to a lesser degree the Nats’ gloves) backed up the dumptruck. Franco drove an 0-2 pitch by fading phenom Stephen Strasburg over the wall in right-center in the third inning for a two-run homer that made the score 4-0 and the rout was on. Howard added his tenth tater of the season in the fifth as Hamels (last seven starts: 5-1, 2.23) cruised to his fourth consecutive win. Phillies 8, Nationals 1.
Manager Ryne Sandberg loaded his line-up with right-handed bats that had historically been successful against Nationals’ starter Gio Gonzalez, who was 3-2 in spite of the fact that he had not been particularly sharp this season. Naturally, the former Phillie farm-hand rediscovered his form and held that ‘loaded’ lineup to one run. A key moment in this game was in the seventh inning when Sandberg, trailing 2-1 with two outs and Denard Span on third, decided to have the lefty Diekman face the league’s hottest hitter in Harper rather than leaving De Fratus in the game to walk Harper and go after Ryan Zimmerman. After Harper’s lob wedge found open space down the left field line, scoring Span, Sandberg left Diekman in the game (apparently the lefty-lefty / righty-righty match-up strategy no longer applied) to face Zimmerman, who promptly drove a double off the wall in right-center that scored Harper and effectively placed the game out of reach as the Phils dropped their sixth road series of the season. Nationals 4, Phillies 1.
As the tradable pieces on this roster continue to excel, the need to move them for maximum value increases. Injuries around the league have already created possibilities. Fans throughout Phillies Nation are concerned that, if making these trades is left to Amaro, this could be an absolute disaster. Over the next two months, watch the transaction wire for names like Carlos Ruiz and even Ben Revere in addition to the expected moves involving Hamels, Howard, Papelbon and Harang. You may also want to beseech the deity of your choosing that those deals rebuild the farm system and bring the future into focus.
Looking ahead –
This week features three in Queens with the New York Mets before welcoming the Rockies into the Bank for a three game weekender. The off day Thursday means that Hamels next start will be off-schedule. He has historically been affected by this kind of quirk. Potential suitors may be watching closely to see if he has toughened enough above the shoulders to further raise his value.
‘0 K Is Not OK’ of the Week –
After striking out ten times on Tuesday night, the Rockies had played 7 consecutive games where they whiffed their way into double figures. On Wednesday and Thursday, Phillies’ starters Gonzalez and Williams combined to record 30 outs … NOT ONE OF THEM WAS A STRIKEOUT.
‘I’m not sayin’ … I’m Just Sayin’ …’ of the Week –
The Phillies commitment to their young players began in the bullpen. Over the last few seasons, they have been developing arms like Giles, DeFratus, Diekman and Elvis Araujo to name a few, with varying degrees of success. This year, they have found Giles to be a fairly dependable set-up man and possible successor to the closer. But, they have also seen DeFratus and Diekman struggle mightily in some key situations. Their failures have made them targets for the more vocal element. Truth be told, if you remove their statistics from the rest of the bullpen’s, we end up with a fairly formidable line.
W – 4 L – 2 ERA – 2.34 G – 46 S – 12/12 IP – 96.1 H – 95 R – 35 ER – 25 HR – 4 TBB – 46 K – 82