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 6 – 5/9-5/15/16
This team’s early-season success is starting to get noticed. While it has been entirely unexpected, it is also undeniable … your Philadelphia Phillies are 18-14 and happily playing ‘third-wheel’ in a divisional race that was supposed to be all about the New York Mets and Washington Nationals. Now, the Atlanta Braves stand before them. A shell of their former selves, they are already buried in the standings and whispers of a change at the helm are echoing throughout a nearly empty Turner Field. The Phils arrive in the ATL having dropped seven of their last eight games there. So, there would be no guarantees.
Considering that they are 0-4 on Mondays thus far, this was a welcome hole in the schedule. Plus, the off-day gives us a chance to assess the achievements of the season thus far. After losing their first four road contests, the Phillies are 10-5 away from CBP. Last year, they were 26-55 as visitors. At this point, it would be hard to imagine a repeat of those numbers.
Adam Morgan, who grew up in nearby Marietta, threw seven strong innings in a game that played out like a template for this team. Solid starting pitching plus just enough offense and six outs from Hector Neris and Jeanmar Gomez equals W. In this case, a solo home run by Maikel Franco in the eighth provided a necessary cushion as Atlanta’s only offensive threat, Freddy Freeman, took Gomez deep in the ninth. Phillies, 3 – Braves, 2
Speaking of following a template, Jerad Eickhoff has been acting out a very frustrating script this year. A combination of very little support and a tendency to surrender untimely homers had resulted in a 1-4 record. The offense managed only two hits in eight innings against a starter, Williams Perez, who had been called up from Triple-A Gwinnett that morning. No support … check. The red-hot Freeman chased Eickhoff with a solo dinger in the fifth. Untimely tater … check. Trailing 4-1, Brett Oberholtzer retired eight of the ten Braves he faced, including the last seven. But, the bats were silent. Braves, 5 – Phillies, 1
The deciding game of the series would be the responsibility of the rocket-armed rookie Vincent Velasquez. Vinny breezed through the first six innings, allowing only two hits and a walk while fanning five. His mates showed their appreciation by building a 4-0 lead against Braves’ starter Aaron Blair. The home half of the seventh began with a single, a walk and a single. Then, a bases-clearing double by Gordon Beckham ended Velasquez’ night. Former Phillie Jeff Francoeur greeted David Hernandez with a single that scored Beckham and tied the game at 4-4. The game stayed tied into the 10th inning, when Cameron Rupp delivered his own 3-run double to match Beckham’s. Gomez … well, by now you probably know what Gomez did. Phillies, 7 – Braves, 4
The Phils had won another series and finished their road odyssey of 16 of 19 away from CBP with a 10-6 mark sandwiched around a home sweep of Cleveland.
As the team headed north, one man was headed south. Tommy Joseph, the catcher turned first baseman, got the call up from Lehigh Valley. To make room, Darin Ruf was designated for assignment and returned to the Iron Pigs.
Rule 5 rookie Tyler Goeddel must have read our note about Ryan Howard supplying all of the offense in 1-0 games. Because, in the opener against the Cincinnati Reds, he managed to figure in all five of the runs that were scored. Jeremy Hellickson struck out nine in seven innings of work. The two runs he allowed were unearned, having scored on Goeddel’s two-out error in the second inning. The kid redeemed himself with a game-tying triple in the fourth that plated Carlos Ruiz and Joseph. Then, scored the go-ahead run on Hellickson’s perfectly executed squeeze bunt. Neris in the eighth … Gomez in the ninth … Phils win, Phils win, Phils win. Phillies, 3 – Reds, 2
Aaron Nola matched Hellickson’s Friday night start nearly stat for stat, striking out nine, walking one and allowing only two runs. At one point, the former LSU Tiger retired 16 of 17 hitters between the first and sixth inning. Odubel Hererra (did we really make it to Saturday before mentioning El Torito) notched an RBI single and a solo homer as the home team built a 4-2 lead in support of Nola. With Neris and Gomez given the night off it was left to Andrew Bailey and Hernandez to lock it down. Bailey handled his business in the eighth. But, Hernandez gave the home crowd a flashback to opening week when he began the ninth by allowing a walk, single and double. Now it was 4-3, with the tying and go-ahead runs on second and third. After a ground ball to Howard became out number one, Hernandez got pinch-hitter Jordan Pacheco to hit a lazy fly ball to left. Goeddel positioned himself perfectly for a throw to the plate as Reds’ third baseman Eugenio Suarez tagged up and prepared to race home with what would become the tying run or the final out. Goeddel unleashed a throw that could not have been better. It found Rupp’s glove just before Suarez crashed into the burly backstop. Both players tumbled to the ground as home plate umpire Vic Carapazza called the final out. An exciting finish, but what ever happened to the ‘Buster Posey Rule’. Phillies, 4 – Reds, 3
Journeyman righthander Dan Straily danced in and out of trouble for five innings, allowing six hits and three walks, but no runs. Meanwhile, Morgan followed one of his best starts with one of his worst. After allowing two runs in the second, including an RBI hit to the 8-hole hitter, he found himself in a bases loaded jam in the fifth. He walked the pitcher Straily to force in a run and, two hitters later, surrendered a 3-run bomb to Suarez that put the Phils in a 7-0 hole. The Phils were within five in the ninth. But, they left the bases loaded. For the day, they were only retired in order once, but they stranded 16 men on base. Reds, 9 – Phillies, 4
More Phillies: Ryan Howard: Piece Out?
Heading toward the Quarter Pole, the Phightins are 22-16. Their success is unexpected, undeniable and unprecedented. No Phillies team in history has ever reached the 40-game mark this many games above .500 without scoring more runs than their opponents. These Phillies are six games over .500 while carrying a -28 run differential. Of course, when you’re 14-3 in one run games, that can happen.
Looking ahead –
The Miami Marlins roll into town having gone 15-35 in their last 50 games in south Philly. If the Phils’ pitchers can contain the prodigious power of Giancarlo Stanton, their success hosting the Fish should continue. Then, it’s a weekender with Atlanta … the worst team in the Majors. That was a fun sentence to write.
Main Squeeze of the Week –
When Hellickson earned the win and drove in the winning run with a squeeze bunt on Friday night, he became the first Phillies starting pitcher to do that in 30 years. The last? How about the immortal Shane Rawley, who did it in Chavez Ravine against the LA Dodgers in 1987.
Red Menace of the Week –
Maikel Franco has reached base safely in all 12 games in which he has faced the Reds. He’s 19-47 (that’s .404, kids!) with 3 HR and 11 RBI.