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 4 – 4/25-5/1/16
If anyone out there predicted a 9-10 record entering the final week of April, take a bow. But, if you are going to tell us that you called Vincent Velasquez’ historic start, Hector Neris being almost unhittable or Jeanmar Gomez commandeering the closer role, we may have to call shenanigans. April closed with three in DC and another three back at home against Roger Dorn, Pedro Cerrano, Ricky Vaughan and the Cleveland Indians.
After failing to amass 10 hits or more in each of their first 15 games, the Phillies have done it in each of the last four. Is it the pitcher in the 8-hole or Odubel Herrera leading off? Maybe it’s just the Brewers pitching staff. We’ll find out soon enough … Max Scherzer, Gio Gonzalez and Tanner Roark await them in Washington, D.C.
When the Montreal Expos moved to Washington, Robert F. Kennedy Stadium and then Nationals Park became the Phillies’ home away from home. The short trip down I-95, the availability of tickets and their absolute dominance of the Phillies meant legions of fans migrating south to watch their heroes dismantle the new guys. But, for the last four years, these trips haven’t been quite as much fun. Their record in DC over that span is 14-24.
Andres Blanco gave Velasquez two runs to work with when he took Scherzer deep in the top of the first. The impressive rookie didn’t have his ‘A’ stuff. But, he managed to carry a 3-1 lead into the 5th. With two outs and two on, Bryce Harper and Ryan Zimmerman delivered RBI singles to tie the game. In the top of the 7th, Blanco and Maikel Franco hit consecutive doubles to retake the lead. Then, David Hernandez, Neris and Gomez each pitched a scoreless inning to lock down Velasquez’ third win of the year and the 100th career managerial win for Pete Mackanin. Phillies, 4 – Nationals, 3
Jeremy Hellickson is having an April that reminds us of Aaron Harang in 2015. Let’s hope he can maintain his momentum better than Harang did. In game two, Hellickson would be matched with former Phillie farm hand Gonzalez. The crafty lefthander had yet to lose this season and was carrying an ERA well below 2.00. Neither starter was perfect. But, they both made pitches when they needed to and the game was scoreless through the 4th. The visitors manufactured single runs in the 5th and 6th. Then, Carlos Ruiz tacked on one more with a bomb to left in the top of the 7th. Hellickson handed that 3-0 lead to Neris and Gomez and they dutifully finished off the shutout. Phillies, 3 – Nationals, 0
The victory put the Phillies over .500 for the first time since they were 3-2 early last season.
After throwing their fourth shutout in the month of April, having thrown only seven of them through all of last season, it might have been a lot to ask of Aaron Nola to throw a fifth. But, the kid was feelin’ it. He struck out seven Nats while sprinkling two hits through seven scoreless innings. Washington starter Roark matched him goose egg for goose egg and the bullpens inherited a 0-0 tie. In the top of the 9th, Herrera, Freddy Galvis and Franco loaded the bases against Felipe Rivero. With one out, Cameron Rupp drove Jonathan Papelbon’s 2-2 pitch to deep right and Harper took a curious route before appearing to quit on it. Two runs scored and Franco followed them home two hitters later on David Lough’s RBI knock. Gomez continued his remarkable month with a 1-2-3 inning for his seventh save in as many tries. Phillies, 3 – Nationals, 0
You read that right … they swept the Nats in DC and held them scoreless over the final 22 innings of the series.
The abomination that is InterLeague Baseball returned to CBP with a visit from the Cleveland Indians. That meant former Cy Young Award winner Corey Kluber. Adam Morgan, replacing the injured Charlie Morton, would make his season debut for the homestanding Phillies. Morgan had a strong spring and was ready to go when the call came. He and Kluber tossed zeroes through the first four innings with Kluber facing the minimum. In the 5th, with two out, the bases empty and two strikes on the pitcher, it looked like Morgan would toss another egg onto the scoreboard. But, Kluber laced a double to left that seemed to shake the young lefty. Rajai Davis followed with an RBI single and Jason Kipnis sent a 1-2 pitch into the rightfield seats to put Morgan and the Phils in a 3-0 hole. Ryan Howard and Ruiz answered with doubles to start the bottom of the 5th and the ensuing rally would tie the game at 3-3. Both pens would hold it down into the 11th inning, when Howard led off the bottom half with his fifth tater of the season. The walk-off win made it four in a row. Phillies, 4 – Indians, 3
Notably, in the 6th, South Jersey product Andrew Bailey made his first appearance as a Phillie in Citizens Bank Park. He promptly lived the dream of every Delaware Valley kid by striking out the side in 11 pitches.
Galvis spotted Jerad Eickhoff a 2-0 lead with a first inning dinger and Eickhoff added an RBI hit of his own in the second. By the end of the 5th, Cleveland had clawed their way back to a 3-3 tie. Bailey pitched another strong inning and was the pitcher of record when Galvis drove in the go-ahead run. This lead held up as Gomez white-knuckled us through the ninth. Make it five in a row. Phillies, 4 – Indians, 3
In the finale, the visitors sent Danny Salazar to face Vinny on a grey afternoon in south Philly. Salazar retired the first seven hitters he faced and went 0-2 to Velasquez. But, the rookie pitcher went all Brett Myers and drew an impressive walk that started a rally. Galvis slapped yet another RBI knock to open the scoring. Then, Salazar slipped on the wet mound while delivering a pitch and was called for a balk that allowed Peter Bourjos to stroll home. Velazquez finished with 6 K’s in 6 innings and entrusted a 2-0 lead to the pen. Hernandez had what Rupp described as his best stuff of the season as he steamrolled through the 7th and 8th. With Gomez overworked and unavailable, Hector Neris was given the chance to save his first game. Carlos Santana took him deep for a solo shot. But, he got the job done, locking down not only the game, but the sweep and a sixth consecutive win. Phillies, 2 – Indians, 1
More Phillies: Should Odubel Herrera Leadoff?
Well, damn … that was fun!!
It’s amazing what this team is able to do with so little offense and in spite of constant baserunning mistakes. Last year, this team won a total of nine games where they scored three runs or less. As of Sunday’s victory, they had already won eight times this season with that low offensive output.
Looking ahead –
How long can they keep it up? If their recent history against the Redbirds is any indication, not too long. Howard always seems to feast on the home cooking in Missouri. But, the dominant pitching and clutch hitting that have marked the Cardinals’ play in recent years will be a telling litmus test. After four in St. Louis, it’s three in Miami against that Stanton fella and the red-hot Fish.
Homer of the Braves of the week –
How about a little NL East Schadenfreude? The Atlanta Braves recently suffered through a power outage that lasted 625 plate appearances and spread across 16 games. April ended with the Braves boasting as many home runs (5) as wins. Ouch …
Quality Starter of the Week –
Vincent Velasquez has now started five games in the major leagues. Amazingly, in three of those starts he has gone at least six innings while allowing three hits or less and no earned runs. Just wait until he shakes off those rookie jitters.