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 12 – 6/20-6/26/16
Do you remember when Citizens Bank Park was a ‘band box’? A hitter’s park? A visiting pitcher’s nightmare? It doesn’t seem so long ago. Here in 2016, the Phillies are 16-21 at The Bank, having hit only 27 home runs while compiling a .214 team batting average. The 2.73 runs per game they are averaging at home is an embarrassing league low. Regardless of why this is happening, there is one more game to play on this homestand and one last chance to avoid an ignominy usually reserved for the collapse of 1964. After that, it’s a hearty 9-game road trip to Minnesota, San Francisco and Phoenix.
After a 4-14 start to the month of June, manager Pete Mackanin is apparently out of viable line up options. Why else would he field a lineup with Andres Blanco batting clean-up? Odubel Herrera’s .302 is the high average with the rest ranging between Freddy Galvis’ .210 and Cameron Rupp’s .264. Arizona starter Shelby Miller enters 1-6 and dragging an ERA well above 6.00 behind him. So, if the bats are going to get healthy, this is the pitcher that can make it happen.
Apart from doubles by Blanco and Tyler Goeddel in the 2nd that created a single run, Miller was unblemished. Phils’ starter Jeremy Hellickson began the game by allowing a double, a single, a Jake Lamb home run and another double. After that he retired 21 of the next 23 hitters he faced. But, the three runs he allowed may as well have been 33, as Miller and the D’backs bullpen stifled the bats. Diamondbacks, 3 – Phillies, 1
It’s frankly difficult to imagine a team in a deeper morass than the Phillies right now. But, the 21-48 Twins team that awaited them in Minneapolis may actually be a bigger mess than they are. Starter Aaron Nola was trying to shake off two less than stellar efforts and get back into the groove that he rode through most of May.
It didn’t happen.
After the bats spotted him a 1st inning run, Nola allowed the Twins to respond with four of their own in the bottom half. In the 2nd, Peter Bourjos smoked a 1-0 pitch from Tyler Duffy deep into Target Field’s left field upper deck for a two-run jack. Wait a minute … that can’t be right. Wow, that WAS Bourjos! Anyway, where were we? Ah, yes … 4-3 Twins in the 2nd. Nola threw 22 pitches and uncharacteristically walked two hitters in the bottom half. But, he managed to keep the Twinkies off the board. His reward was back-to-back bombs by Tommy Joseph and Rupp in the third to make it 6-4 Phillies. A bases-loaded double by 8-hole hitter Kurt Suzuki keyed Minnesota’s 4-run response in the bottom of the inning as the seesaw teetered again to 8-6 Twins. With both starters gone, things settled down until Suzuki struck again, this time with a two-run tater in the 5th off of Brett Oberholtzer. Each team would score four more times, highlighted by a three-run missile by Mikael Franco and another RBI double by Suzuki. The veteran catcher’s career-high 6 RBI proved to be the difference as the final looked more like an Eagles/Vikings score. Twins, 14 – Phillies, 10
Not for nothing, but the Phils just scored more in one game than they did in their last six games … they still lost.
Sure we’ve taken some shots at Bourjos after his less than impressive start. So, we should, at the very least, note that he is 10-19 since June 12. During that span, he has raised his average from .197 to .229.
Were the bats awakening or would this be an aberration like last week’s 7-0 win in Toronto? With the rain falling on the Twin Cities, there was no way to know. After a delay of just over an hour, the teams managed to trade single runs to post a 2-2 tie after three innings. Rupp muscled a home run down the rightfield line in the 2nd and Blanco launched his own solo effort in the 3rd. In the 5th, the Phils turned four singles and a Max Kepler error into three runs. Unfortunately, starter Adam Morgan was unable to make them stand up as two singles a double and a triple tied the game at 5-5. David Hernandez allowed a single run in the bottom of the 7th that the Minnesota bullpen successfully defended. The bats were awake. But, the losing streak had reached eight games. Twins, 6 – Phillies, 5
Having dropped two games to a team that was already 27 games below .500 in mid-June and facing a trip to the usually nightmarish AT&T Park in San Francisco, this team needed a win. Enter Jerad Eickhoff, the bulldog of a righthander who, though he was making only the 22nd start of his career, was becoming one of the most dependable arms in the rotation. His wins on June 7 & 13 are the only victories this team has enjoyed over the last 17 days.
Minnesota got to him early, taking a 1-0 lead in the 1st. Ryan Howard answered with a solo homer off of his old nemesis Ricky Nolasco to lead off the 2nd. A squeeze bunt by Galvis later in the frame scored Cody Asche to give the visitors a 2-1 lead. With the Phils leading 4-2 in the top of the 8th, Galvis hammered a three-run nail into the Twins’ coffin. Eickhoff racked up his third win of the month, as well as another QS and the losing streak was snapped. Phillies, 7 – Twins, 3
Galvis’ five runs batted in were a career high and one would imagine there aren’t many men in major league history who could boast a successful squeeze, an RBI triple and a three-run homer in the same game.
Zach Eflin continued to march effectively away from the wreckage of his major league debut. Allowing only a single, unearned run, the big righty aimed his arsenal of pitches at the bottom half of the Giants’ bats for six solid innings and entrusted a delicate 2-1 lead to the pen. In the 7th, Severino Gonzalez and Elvis Araujo combined to load the bases with one out before Brandon Belt cleared them and changed the game. Franco’s triple in the 8th touched off a two-run reply. But, the comeback fell short. Giants, 5 – Phillies, 4
Additionally, Andrew Bailey was placed on the DL with a strained left hamstring. Venezuelan righthander Edubray Ramos was called up to fill his spot. In his major league debut, Ramos committed a balk before collecting himself and retiring the only batter he faced, Gregor Blanco, on a ground ball to Cesar Hernandez.
The Giants sent Madison Bumgarner (8-3, 1.85) to the hill and for six innings of two-hit, shutout baseball, things went just about how you might expect. Hellickson was solid, allowing only single runs in the 2nd & 3rd. Joseph led of the 7th with a double and scored two hitters later on Blanco’s single. With the shutout broken and Bumgarner’s pitch count rising, Rupp worked a 3-2 count before crushing his third home run of the week, a two-run rocket to straight-away center that chased the big lefty and gave the Phillies the lead. Ramos and Hernandez carried the lead into the 9th and Jeanmar Gomez became the fastest Phillies closer to 20 saves in franchise history. Phillies, 3 – Giants, 2
Nola was given another opportunity to get back on track, but the 3rd inning was once again his undoing. A 1-1 tie quickly spiraled out of control. After two doubles and three singles, the young righthander from LSU hit consecutive batters with pitches. The Phils managed to get a few back in the 4th off of Johnny Cueto. But, back-to-back singles in the bottom half ended Nola’s outing inconveniently early for the fourth straight start. A two-run single by Asche tied the game at 5-5 and took Nola off the hook. The teams traded single runs over the next few innings and went to the 9th tied 7-7. Severino Gonzalez allowed consecutive doubles as the Giants walked off with the win. Giants, 8 – Phillies, 7
It was refreshing to see some offense, but frustrating that it only resulted in two wins. With the wealth of prospects developing in the minor league system, it is hard to imagine most of the guys on the current roster are considered long-term solutions. But, this week they seemed to find new purpose. After having touched only three starting pitchers for more than three runs in their first 70 games, they did it four times this week.
Ryan Howard’s 11th home run of the year extended his career streak to 12 seasons with at least 11 dingers. That may seem random and somewhat unimpressive. But, there are four other active players who can claim such a streak – Albert Pujols (16 seasons), David Ortiz (16), Miguel Cabrera (14) and Robinson Cano (12) – and that is some impressive company.
It looks as though we can officially be worried about Aaron Nola. After an impressive string of excellent starts that ended with six scoreless innings against Milwaukee on June 5, he was 5-4 with a 2.65 ERA. Four starts later, he has forgotten what the fifth inning looks like. He has dropped his last three decisions and his ERA has ballooned to 4.45. There are whispers that something is physically wrong even though he has not lost significant velocity. It just seems like a case of a kid struggling for the first time in his young career and learning what it takes to clear that hurdle.
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Looking ahead –
Three games in Phoenix will wrap up a run of 20 consecutive game days. Then, it’s three with the World Champion Kansas City Royals. Vince Velasquez will come of the DL to start the opener against the Diamondbacks. His rehab start was encouraging enough to forgo a second one. To make room for Vinnie in the rotation, Adam Morgan will move to the bullpen and Araujo will head back to the AAA Lehigh Valley Iron Pigs.
Home Field Disadvantage of the Week –
The 0-6 homestand that concluded with Monday’s loss was historic for all of the wrong reasons. Bearing in mind the laughable stats listed above, the degree of anemia that was reached over those six games is staggering … 9 Runs Scored (1.50/game), 31-190 (.163) at the plate, only 4 hits in 35 AB with runners in scoring position. To make matters worse, the pitching staff allowed an average of 6.16 runs per game. The result is the first winless homestand of six or more games in more than 50 years.
Triple Team of the Week –
After triples by Bouros and Franco on Friday night, the Phils’ season total stands at 21. Only the Diamondbacks (27), Giants (24) and Rockies (22) have more. So, while it may be the ’Shemp’ (or even the ‘Curly’ Joe Besser) of the offensive statistical categories, your Phightins have the highest total of three-baggers east of the Continental Divide.