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 2 – 4/11-4/17/16
The home schedule began with a 10-game stretch against San Diego, Washington and the Mets. The Padres were coming off a weekend in Colorado that saw them average 11 runs a game. The Nationals had lost only once and rode into town on a 5-game win streak.
Opening day at CBP is no longer the event that it was just a few years ago. But, to the credit of the Phillie Phaithful, it was sold out. Aaron Nola was bestowed the honor of starting the home opener and he answered by striking out nine Padres in seven innings. He didn’t have his best stuff. But, he battled. He was touched up early for three runs, including a Wil Myers dinger. His mates picked him up with single runs in the 4th and 5th innings. Then, in the 6th, they loaded the bases with nobody out. Darin Ruf lofted the first pitch he saw into shallow left centerfield. Inexplicably, while it was still being chased by shortstop Alexei Ramirez and charged by Myers in left and John Jay from center, the Infield Fly rule was invoked … you remember the infield fly rule, right? That rule that was designed to protect baserunners from fielders cheating on easy pop-ups? Yeah, that one … anywhoooo, Ruf was called out even though no one had camped beneath his blooper. Free to advance at their own risk and seeing the ball dropping in the open space between the San Diego fielders, Cesar Hernandez raced home with the tying run and Odubel Herrera drifted toward third, struggling to comprehend what was happening. Ramirez’ throw to Alexi Amarista at third arrived before Herrera did, but Amarista lazily tagged third as though it were a force play. He then tagged Herrera just before he touched the base resulting in a rally killing double play. Manager Pete Mackanin argued feverishly. But, since the Infield Fly call was not reviewable, there wasn’t much point to it. With the game tied, Nola was unable to take advantage as the Padres put together a run when Derek Norris scored on a safety squeeze by Amarista. The Phils could only manage a Maikel Franco single against the San Diego bullpen the rest of the way as the visitors spoiled the opener. Padres 4, Phillies 3
Charlie Morton, the only starter to struggle in his first start, was charged with getting things back on track. The former Pirate struck out seven over six-and-two-thirds, posting nothing but zeroes along the way. Thanks to a Herrera triple, Morton was able to hand a 1-0 lead to the bullpen. Hector Neris, David Hernandez and Jeanmar Gomez combined to finish it off. The offense tacked on two more in the 8th as the Phillies got right back into the win column. Phillies 3, Padres 0
Jerad Eickhoff and his knee-buckling deuce took the ball Wednesday night. Franco spotted him an early lead with a solo bomb in the bottom of the first, then added to it with an RBI double in the third. Eickhoff showed his appreciation by mowing down the Padres line-up, striking out nine and allowing only four hits in his seven innings of work. He would leave a 2-0 lead to Hernandez and Gomez and, despite allowing a run in the ninth, they would close it down. Phillies 2, Padres 1
A getaway matinee on Thursday featured rookie Vincent Velasquez who was looking to build on his terrific debut against the Mets. What followed was pure history. In only his second major league start, Vinny from Philly went the distance, shutting out the Padres on only three singles while whiffing 16 without issuing a walk. Ryan Howard’s third homer of the season was all the offense he required. But, they did score a few more runs for good measure. Phillies 3, Padres 0
Velasquez’ performance put him into some lofty company. His stats after his first two starts are invoking names like Steve Carlton, Nolan Ryan, Dwight Gooden, Max Scherzer, Curt Schilling, Kerry Wood, Roger Clemens, Cliff Lee and more.
After 10 games, the Phillies were 5-5, with the starters carrying an offense that had yet to reach double digits in hits in a game. Their 2.14 ERA and 75 strikeouts were leading the league.
Meanwhile, Rule 5 lefthanded reliever Daniel Stumpf was suspended 80 games for a positive PED test. Elvis Araujo was recalled from Lehigh Valley to take his spot.
The wave of momentum that the Phils and their fans were riding crashed hard against the division-leading Washington Nationals. Jeremy Hellickson’s second pitch of the game was smoked over the leftfield wall by Michael Taylor. From there, it only got worse. With one out, Jayson Werth cleared the loaded bases with a double and later scored on a Danny Espinosa single. The 5-0 hole proved too deep as Nats starter Joe Ross cruised into the 8th. Howard’s 4th tater of the year was basically an afterthought in the ninth as the Phils dipped back below .500. Nationals 9, Phillies 1
Looking to avoid the five run first inning that torpedoed the series opener for the Phils, Aaron Nola managed to hold the Nats to three runs in the first. But, with Scherzer throwing fire at the overmatched Phillie hitters, the hole was dug. A Scherzer double and a Bryce Harper big fly would make it 7-0 before Cameron Rupp broke through with his first round tripper of the season. Nevertheless, it was becoming clear that shutting down the Reds and Padres was a very different challenge than containing the Nationals. Nats 8, Phillies 1
As previously stated in this column, the Phillies will be overmatched at certain points this season. But, it does not appear that they will quit. After two humbling losses, they seemed determined to get their feet under them. Morton faced the minimum through five innings and was handed a 1-0 lead when Carlos Ruiz went deep. The Nats tied things up with an Anthony Rendon RBI single in the 6th. For the first time this season there would be extra innings. In the top of the 10th, Gomez was asked to pitch a second inning. He retired the first two hitters with relative ease. Then, he froze Harper with a 1-2 fastball at the knees. It was called ball two. A few pitches later, Harper launched a rocket into the Phillies bullpen. Now trailing 2-1, the Phils were facing their former closer and all-time franchise saves leader, Jonathan Papelbon. Old #58 got touched on a one out double by Peter Bourjos, who would score to tie the game on Andres Blanco‘s two-out knock. ‘Whitey’ took second on the play and raced home four pitches later when Freddy Galvis smoked a 1-2 pitch over Werth’s head off the base of the wall for the walk-off win. Phillies 3, Nats 2
More Phillies: Who Should Be The Starting First Baseman?
A brief glimpse of what could be was abruptly interrupted by what is. This lineup is basically a leadoff hitter, a clean-up hitter, a 5-hole hitter and five guys who should probably hit 8th or lower in any lineup. When we look to the bench, more 8’s. Emmanuel Burriss may have the slowest bat on the planet. Cedric Hunter’s feel good story ended with a drive up 476, he has been replaced by David Lough … another light-hitting outfielder. Despite starting Sunday’s rally, Bourjos has been the living embodiment of the old cliché ‘Sure he’s fast. But, you can’t steal First Base’.
On the other hand, Jeanmar Gomez has been a pleasant surprise, holding opposing hitters to a .192 average while going 4-for-4 as a closer. The rest of the pen has begun to follow suit.
Looking ahead –
The New York Mets come to town with revenge on their minds after the Phils took 2-of-3 in Flushing last weekend. After their 10-game homestand ends, it’s a weekend in beautiful Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
Double or Nothing of the Week –
Bourjos is 7-for-37 (that’s .189, kids!!) after Sunday’s action. Incredibly, five of Bourjos seven hits have been doubles. We’ll keep an eye on this statistical anomaly. In the event of a triple or even … GASP … a home run. We may have to break into regular programming.
Bruced Ego of the Week –
Let’s take a minute and tip our hats to the genius that graced us with his presence at CBP this weekend. Sitting behind the dugout, this dedicated fan held up a sign that read “I came 4000 miles for BRUCE Harper”. One can only assume that Nationals wunderkind BRYCE Harper took one look at it and said ‘That’s a clown sign, bro!’