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 7 – 5/16-5/22/16
A week’s worth of home games against the Miami Marlins and Atlanta Braves offered a chance to stock up on some W’s before a road trip that should give this team all that it can handle. They should also hit the 40-game mark this week. Traditionally, this is the point where early-season surprises will either fade or entrench themselves in their divisional races. It’s time to find out what we have here.
As we have discussed before, Jerad Eickhoff has a tendency to make mistakes that end up as souvenirs. The Phillies offense has a tendency to not get him off the hook. This time, it was Marcell Ozuna and Justin Bour doing the honors as the Fish built a 3-1 lead. In the 7th, Miami added two more off Andrew Bailey and Elvis Araujo to put the game out of reach. The Phils managed to pick up single runs in the 7th & 9th. But, it wasn’t enough. Marlins, 5 – Phillies, 3
For the second consecutive game, Phillies pitchers allowed seven bases on balls. Before that they had not allowed more than five in a game this season.
Dropping two straight at home is one thing. Dropping two straight at home to teams that are behind you in the standings is another thing altogether. This could become the kind of death spiral that good teams avoid. It would be up to Vince Velasquez to stem the tide. The rookie righthander would be tossing to Carlos Ruiz in the 1000th game of Chooch’s career. It took Velasquez 25 pitches to get through a scoreless 1st and, after an 11-pitch walk to Ozuna, 24 more to get through the 2nd. But, the score was still 0-0 and Vinny had already chalked up four strikeouts. In the bottom of the 2nd, Tommy Joseph lined a 1-2 pitch from Wei-Yin Chen off the screen adjacent to the leftfield fair pole for his first major league home run. Velasquez continued on his established pace … lots of pitches, plenty of strikeouts, no runs. He was finished after five innings and 103 pitches, having fanned 10 Marlins. Velasquez entrusted a 2-0 lead to the bullpen. Bailey, Araujo and David Hernandez effectively carried it to the 8th, where Hector Neris and Jeanmar Gomez have been as good as any pair in the majors at shortening games. By then, Joseph had added an RBI single. The Marlins managed a run off Gomez. But, the Phils were back in the win column. Phillies, 3 – Marlins 1
The bullpen tacked on seven strikeouts in their four innings of work, bringing their total for the game to 17.
Jeremy Hellickson was looking to build on his solid nine strikeout performance against Cincinnati as he took the ball Wednesday afternoon. The Marlins took a 2-0 lead in the 1st on RBI doubles by Christian Yelich and Ozuna. Hellickson dug in and retired the next 13 hitters he faced. Meanwhile, his teammates put together a 3rd inning rally where Andres Blanco and Cameron Rupp had run-scoring hits to put the home team ahead 3-2. Hellickson went six innings and turned the lead over to Hernandez, Neris and Gomez. While the bullpen arms were doing their job, Rule 5 rookie Tyler Goeddel smashed his first Major League home run, a missile to the deepest point in left-centerfield, for a little insurance. Gomez pitched a perfect 9th for his 16th save of the year. Phillies, 4 – Marlins, 2
Joseph and Goeddel hitting their first dingers in back-to-back games is something the Phillies haven’t seen since May of 1980 when Keith Moreland and Ramon Aviles launched their first bombs. For the record, both rookies received the ‘silent treatment’ when they got back to the dugout.
As a special bonus, Marlins slugger Giancarlo Stanton went 0-10 with nine strikeouts in the series … and it was actually more embarrassing than those numbers would imply.
This team is 24-17 (including a 14-10 mark against teams above .500) and they’re only a half a game behind division-leading Washington. Since their 0-4 start, only the Chicago Cubs have had a better record than the Phillies.
In organizational news, J.P. Crawford was promoted to Triple-A Lehigh Valley. The Phils’ top pick in 2013 was only hitting .265, but his Eastern League leading 30 walks gave him a .398 OBP.
What could be better for a team surging to unexpected heights than a visit from baseball’s worst team? You remember the Braves, don’t you? Five wins in April … The Atlanta Braves. The Phils were sending Aaron Nola, whose last five starts had resulted in victories, out to face Matt Wisler, who they had beaten only 10 days before. When they took a 1-0 lead in the 1st, things seemed to be lining up according to plan.
Then, in the 3rd inning, with two down and one man on base, Nola decided to challenge the one legitimate threat in the Atlanta line up, first baseman Freddy Freeman. The lanky lefthander took him deep and the Braves took the lead. A Maikel Franco throwing error sparked a 7th inning rally that culminated with a Nick Markakis homer and a 5-1 deficit. Freeman added a second two-run tater in the 9th and those powerless Braves had thumped three homers en route to a 7-1 slap in the face.
As we have mentioned here before, it’s the way a team responds to a bad loss that defines them more than the loss itself. Here they were with a chance to pay back Williams Perez who had stymied them in Atlanta. Perez and Adam Morgan were both ready for action. Apart from the two runs Atlanta cobbled together in the 4th, there was nothing but zeroes going up on the board. The Phillies managed only two singles and a walk off Perez and nothing at all against the Braves bullpen. Suddenly, they were facing the very real possibility of being swept at home by the league’s worst team. Braves, 2 – Phillies, 0
Things looked bleak as Jerad Eickhoff dragged his 1-6 record and penchant for gopher balls into the series finale. Even at his most effective this season, Eickhoff has managed to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. But, this time, Eickhoff was given some run support and he made it work for him. Rupp got it started in the 2nd when he smoked one down the rightfield line and into A-Rod’s favorite camera well. Two hitters later, Goeddel tripled and later scored. They added a run in the 4th when Galvis tripled and scored. Franco showed signs of life with a couple of lob wedge hits that found open spaces. The second of which scored two more runs. Eickhoff would throw seven scoreless innings before letting Neris and Gomez close it out. Phillies, 5 – Braves, 0
These first seven weeks have been fun. Who could’ve imagined, right? But, losing two of three at home to these Braves is a troubling sign. Especially when you see the schedule that lies ahead. Three in Detroit against a Tigers team that had been treading water before winning six of their last seven; three in Chicago against a Cubs team that is winning at a pace the North Side hasn’t seen in over a century.
Cody Asche (oblique strain) is progressing with his rehab. He was moved up to Lehigh Valley on Sunday. From the numbers he has put up in Clearwater and Reading, it appears that he is feeling better than he is hitting.
Looking ahead –
As noted above, this isn’t going to be easy. Call it what you will … trial by fire, litmus test, chance to make a statement … these next six games will provide some perspective. It doesn’t get much easier after that with the Nationals waiting for them when they get home.
More Phillies: Ryan Howard: Piece Out?
Grand Old Man of the Week –
In catching 1000 games for the Phillies, Carlos Ruiz joined Mike Lieberthal, Bob Boone and Red Dooin as the only Phillie catchers to do that. In fact, only 48 catchers in MLB history have caught that many games for one team. The only active player with more games behind the dish for one franchise is Jerry Seinfeld’s favorite player … Yadda, Yadda Yadier Molina of the St. Louis Cardinals.
Who’s That Kid? of the Week –
When the Phillies took Tyler Goeddel with the first pick in this year’s Rule 5 Draft, most people asked ’Who’s that kid?’ When he played sparingly during the month of April and had only four hits and a .160 average, they were asking ‘Why is this kid here?’ Then May happened. Goeddel has been a regular in the Phils’ lineup and he’s making the best of it. He’s 16-47 (that’s .340, kids!) and he has only been struck out three times in the month of May. To add to his emergence, he is showing some serious defensive acumen. His throw to Rupp against Cincinnati was as impressive a throw as we’ve seen in this town in a long time. It might be a little early, but could we someday be adding his name to that of Dave Hollins, Shane Victorino and Odubel Herrera.