The Phillies Week in Review, everything you need to know about the week that was for the Philadelphia Phillies 2016 season.
2016 Phillies – Week in Review – Week 1 – 4/4-4/10/16
After winning 60% of their games in Florida, the Phillies began the season with three in the Queen City and three more in Queens. Would they be exposed in the chilly northeastern air?
Newcomer Jeremy Hellickson got the opening day nod, the first Phillies starter to debut on opening day in 27 years. Cincinnati took a first-inning lead when Ryan Howard misplayed a throw to first and Zack Cozart raced home. Freddy Galvis answered immediately with a two-run shot in the top of the second. Hellickson and Reds starter Raisel Iglesias settled in and the score remained 2-1 as the game was turned over to the bullpens in the 7th inning. Jeanmar Gomez worked a perfect inning and Reds reliever Jumbo Diaz retired all four of the Phillies he faced. Seriously … Jumbo Diaz … not really newsworthy, per se. But, say it with us … Jumbo Diaz.
Pre-season predictions for this team were focused on a lack of scoring and a questionable bullpen. Naturally, game number one would entrust a tenuous 2-1 lead to the relievers. As if on cue, the pen collapsed. David Hernandez, Jeff Russell and Hector Neris parlayed three walks, a hit batter, a double and two singles into five Cincinnati runs and a disappointing 6-2 Opening Day loss.
Everyone out there who had to explain the day off after Opening Day to somebody, take a drink!!
Looking to bounce back, Pete Mackanin sent Aaron Nola to the bump. Maikel Franco gave Nola some early support when he blasted the first pitch he saw from Reds starter Brandon Finnegan over the right field wall for a two-run homer. Eugenio Suarez got one of those runs back when he put Nola in his book in the bottom of the first. Like two nights earlier, the starters found their groove with Finnegan fanning nine in six innings and Nola notching eight K’s over seven frames. Once more the pen arms were asked to protect a 2-1 lead. Hernandez began his redemption with a clean 8th and Dalier Hinojosa would take his first shot at locking down a W in the ninth.
It did not go well.
The Reds loaded the bases with one out on singles by Suarez, catcher Devin Mesoraco and Jay Bruce. Leftfielder Scott Schebler worked a 2-2 count before smoking a Hinojosa fastball off the base of the left-centerfield wall for a walk-off double and the 3-2 win.
For the third game in a row, the Phils jumped out to a 2-1 lead. This time, it was courtesy of Cedric Hunter’s first big-league bomb. Phillies starter Charlie Morton seemed to want no part of handing another 2-1 lead to the bullpen as he opened the Reds half of the 4th inning allowing two singles and a Bruce home run. Four batters later, Morton exited with two outs and runners on second and third. Rule 5 rookie Daniel Stumpf made a memorably forgettable major league debut which consisted of a walk, a grand slam by Suarez and another walk. He left, having not recorded an out, with an ERA that could not be computed by existing technology.
Howard and Carlos Ruiz each hit their first dingers of the year. But, the damage was done and the Phillies were swept out of Cinci after a 10-6 loss. As a special bonus, Franco was hit by a pitch in the ninth, bringing back memories of last season’s injury. He would miss Friday’s series opener in New York.
Looking to avoid their first 0-4 start in over a decade, the Phightins found themselves at CitiField in Queens, NY. Considering the 1-8 record they posted at the home of the National League champs last season, this may not have been the optimal circumstances.
Jerad Eickhoff was facing off against Jacob deGrom and his epic ‘Ape Drape’. Through five innings, deGrom had scattered a few lonely singles around six Phillie strikeouts and Eickhoff had limited the Mets to a single second inning run. The young Phillies righthander took matters into his own hands when he led off the sixth with a double and later scored on a two-out knock by Odubel Herrera. Unfortunately, Eickhoff’s reward was a Lucas Duda double, a Neil Walker RBI single and a Michael Conforto double that scored Walker. His night was over after 87 pitches, having failed to record an out in the sixth inning. Stumpf and Hinojosa managed to close out the frame with no further damage. But, former Cub Russell was given the ball in the seventh. He walked two and allowed three singles and three runs. Hernandez was called upon to close the inning, allowing another RBI single in the process.
Trailing 7-1, the Phils mounted a modest rally after an error and a single gave them first-and-third with one down. Cesar Hernandez slapped an RBI single making the score 7-2 with two on and only one out. Mets skipper Terry Collins called on lefty Jerry Blevins with Herrera, Howard and Andres Blanco coming up. Herrera popped up a 1-1 pitch into the swirling infield breeze. The situation called for an infield fly call, but David Wright was struggling with the wind. The infield fly call came late and Hernandez broke for second when Wright failed to make the catch. Caught in a rundown and looking like a confused little leaguer, Hernandez was retired on the rare 5-5-6-3 double play to end the inning and, for all intents and purposes, the game. Mets, 7 – Phillies, 2
The law of averages demanded that the Phils would eventually win one. But, with rookie Vincent Velasquez making his major league debut in their ‘Hell Away from Home’ in Flushing, other factors were most certainly in play. Phillie nemesis Bartolo Colon (apparently taking some time off from running the Gungan underground on Naboo) took the ball for New York. Apart from one mistake that Howard launched into the seats in left-center, the corpulent righty dazzled the Philadelphia line-up once again. Velasquez, meanwhile, was having himself quite the coming out party. He whiffed Duda and Yoenis Cespedes three times each on his way to a six inning performance that featured nine K’s and nothing but eggs on the scoreboard. Over the 7th, 8th & 9th, the bullpen allowed only a walk by Neris as Gomez made the most of his first save opportunity and dutifully locked down the team’s first win of 2016. Phillies, 1 – Mets, 0
Looking to build on what little momentum they may have generated with Saturday’s win, the Phils sent Hellickson back to the bump. The Mets countered with Matt Harvey, as the Phillies hitters conspired to help keep his precious inning count down by providing an early exit. Through five innings, the Phils led 1-0 on a Galvis sacrifice fly in the third. In the top of the sixth, Herrera dropped the barrel onto a 1-2 slider from Harvey and smoked it into the Phillies bullpen. Hellickson had efficiently worked through the first five frames on only 66 pitches and found himself with a 3-0 lead. After retiring the first two hitters, he allowed a double to Wright and threw a wild pitch during an 11-pitch at bat with Cespedes. That AB ended with the Cuban slugger drilling a two run dinger that chased Hellickson. For the second game in a row, the pen responded when called. Russel retired Duda to close the sixth and Neris used a filthy splitter to retire all six Mets he faced in the 7th & 8th. Meanwhile, the bats added single runs in the 8th & 9th, providing the 3-run cushion that Gomez deftly protected in the ninth for his second save in as many tries. Phillies, 5 – Mets, 3
More Phillies: 2016 Preview: A Season Of Growth
It would be easy to look at the 2-4 record and say that the week played out the way it was expected to. But, the details say otherwise. With the exception of Morton’s meltdown, the starters were solid. The bullpen, which started terribly, seemed to begin to right the ship. Howard shook off some fielding issues and hit two big flies. Franco has reached base safely in every game.
Looking ahead –
The San Diego Padres come in for four as our boys open their home schedule. The Dads were shut out in three games against the Dodgers in San Diego, then went to Colorado and scored 32 runs in three games. Let’s see if it’s Jekyll or Hyde in the batter’s box come Monday. After that, it’s a three gamer with the visiting Washington Nationals.
‘Don’t Walk’ sign of the week –
In the four losses that opened the season, the pitchers walked 12 and hit a batter. Of those 13 baserunners, 10 of them scored. Sometimes those old clichés are still around because they’re true.
Season of the Week –
Over the weekend Ryan Howard played in a game against the Mets for the 162nd time in his career. In that ‘season’, he has 45 homers and 131 RBI. Quality numbers right there.