The Phillies Week in Review, everything you need to know about the week that was for the Philadelphia Phillies 2017 season.
Phillies 2017 – Week 4 (4/24-30/17)
Riding a four game winning streak, the 9-9 Philadelphia Phillies welcomed the 10-8 Miami Marlins to town for a three game set. In a perfect world, the home team would keep winning and carry that momentum west for a weekend in Los Angeles against Chase Utley and the Dodgers. Or, maybe it’ll just rain …
No game scheduled.
Starter Aaron Nola (2-0, 4.50), who had lasted only five innings in his last start, has been placed on the 10-day DL with a lower back strain. The schedule allows for some flexibility. So, his next turn can be pushed to Sunday. Recently acquired utility man Ty Kelly will be activated to fill Nola’s roster spot. Righthander Nick Pivetta, the prospect received from Washington for Jonathan Papelbon at the 2015 trade deadline, has been tearing up the competition at AAA Lehigh Valley (3-0, 0.95, 24K in 19.0 IP). It appears he will be called up to make his major league debut in Nola’s absence.
It rained all day. But, the powers that be seemed to think they could get the game in as they waited until 6:45pm to finally give in and postpone. The game will be played on August 22 as the night cap of a ‘one-admission’ double header.
A rare two-day break in the schedule meant that two fresh teams would be taking the field with Lefty Wei-Yin Chen for Miami facing Philadelphia’s Vince Velasquez. Trailing 2-0 in the bottom of the third, Velasquez led off with a base hit to right. Aaron Altherr and Odubel Herrera added one-out singles to load the bases for Maikel Franco. The free swinging third-baseman locked onto a 2-2 pitch and smoked it into the seats for his second Grand Slam of the season. After a Freddy Galvis solo shot, Velasquez carried a 5-2 lead into the seventh. He was chased after an RBI double by Marlins shortstop Adieny Hechavarria made it 5-3 with one out. Former Phillie Dustin McGowan served up the first dinger of the year to Michael Saunders, a massive two-run bomb that struck the signage on the facing of the second deck with enough force to ricochet back onto the outfield grass. Hector Neris was less than impressive in recording the final three outs, as the Phils won their fifth in a row. Phillies, 7 – Marlins, 4
Getaway day meant an afternoon matinee that pitted Edinson Volquez against Jeremy Hellickson. Miami is the seventh team that Volquez has pitched for in his career. While his uniform has not been consistent, his ability to pitch against the Phillies (4-2, 2.30) has been. The home team greeted their guest with a patient plate approach that resulted in two walks and a run scored in a 25-pitch first inning. Hellickson continued his successful early season with six innings of work, allowing only a single run. He passed a 3-1 lead to the bullpen after Brock Stassi’s RBI triple in the bottom of the sixth. This time, Neris pitched a near-perfect seven-pitch ninth to make it six consecutive wins. Phillies, 3 – Marlins, 2
Having won eight of their last ten and sending Jerad Eickhoff to the hill, the Phillies may have been quoting the old axiom, ‘Momentum is your next day’s starter’. In this case, they may have been better served worrying about their opponent’s starter. Cunning Japanese righthander Kenta Maeda was waiting for them in Chavez Ravine. The 29-year-old beat them twice last season, his first in America after eight solid years with the Hiroshima Carp.
Galvis slashed a double into the rightfield corner in the third to put his team ahead 2-0. Maeda was stingy thereafter. Meanwhile, the Dodgers clawed their way back with single runs in the third and fourth with two-out rallies. A Yasmani Grandal sacrifice fly put Los Angeles ahead 3-2 after five innings. In the sixth, Eickhoff found himself in that most dangerous of situations … two out and nobody on base. After a single and a walk, he was done. Luis Garcia was greeted by a two-run double by Justin Turner that put the game out of reach. Dodgers closer Kenley Jansen mowed down the Phils for the save. Dodgers, 5 – Phillies, 3
Zach Eflin returned to the scene of his final start from last season, a three inning, seven earned run nightmare as he labored on two injured knees. He seemed intent on putting that memory away and getting his team back on a winning roll. Dodgers leadoff hitter Andrew Toles had a different idea. He smashed Eflin’s second pitch of the game over the centerfield wall, giving starter Brandon McCarthy a 1-0 lead to work with. It was still 1-0 in the fourth when Stassi launched a 3-run tater to left-center. Daniel Nava added an RBI hit in the fifth and Eflin continued to roll. He finished the seventh after allowing a Cody Bellinger solo shot. Andrew Knapp answered in the eighth with his first career trip to the junk yard and Neris was handed a 5-2 lead in the ninth.
Hey guys, remember how much fun it was last Sunday against the Braves when Cesar Hernandez, Altherr and Herrera went back-to-back-to-back to sweep Atlanta?
Yeah, good times …
Anywhoooooo … Neris took the mound with a 3-run lead. Yasiel Puig worked the count full before jacking the eighth pitch of the at-bat into the seats. Bellinger wasted no time, turning on the first pitch he saw and ringing it high off the fair pole. Neris then tried to quick pitch Turner. It didn’t work. The unstoppable ginger crushed the 0-1 offering into the leftfield bleachers to tie the game at 5-5. A few batters later, with two out and runners on first and second, Adrian Gonzalez wasted three two-strike pitches from Joely Rodriguez before cueing a grounder to the left side of the infield. Franco extended to his left, getting just enough of the ball to deflect it past Galvis as Austin Barnes raced home with the winning run. Dodgers, 6 – Phillies, 5
As expected, rookie Nick Pivetta got the nod for the series finale. He would be facing Korean lefty Hyun-Jin Ryu. The visitors jumped on Ryu early, as Hernandez tripled and was immediately singled home by Galvis. Pivetta seemed unsettled early, allowing three consecutive hits and a tying run before recording an out. Chris Taylor homered in the second as Pivetta crossed another first off his list. While Ryu was baffling the Phillie bats, Piveta settled down and pitched through the fifth. Jeanmar Gomez took over in the sixth, charged with keeping it close. The embattled former closer continued his difficult season by allowing a three-run bomb to Toles that more or less sealed his team’s fate. Herrera slugged a two-run shot in the ninth. But, the Dodgers completed the sweep. Dodgers, 5 – Phillies, 3
It’s a copout to be satisfied that this team is competitive. Are they better than last year? It would appear they are. Notwithstanding their inability to close games consistently, they are scoring at a higher rate than last year, their defense has been exemplary and the starting pitching is keeping them in most games. But, there are flaws that don’t seem to be going away. Pitchers aren’t finishing off hitters in two-strike counts and situational hitting still seems like a mystery to many of these guys. When you face teams like the Dodgers, these become fatal flaws.
Looking Ahead –
The road gets no easier with four games on the northside of Chicago with the Cubs. The defending World Series champs (that still seems strange to say) are hovering around .500 thus far. But, they boast a lineup with few holes and a notable starting rotation. After that, it’s home to face the Washington Nationals AGAIN. Since Bryce Harper’s walk-off a few weeks ago, they have been one of baseball’s hottest teams, going 10-3 including a 23-run explosion against the Mets. Brace yourselves, this could be a rough week.
Historic Debut of the Week –
Reliever Mark Leiter pitched a clean 12-pitch seventh inning on Friday night in his major league debut. He joined his daddy Mark, Sr as only the second father and son to play for the Phillies. The other pair was the Amaros, Ruben. Additionally, along with Stassi and Andrew Knapp, this is the first time since 1980 that three Phils have made their major league debut in April.
Seriously Historic Debut of the Week –
Not to be out done by Leiter’s introductory appearance, Pivetta’s first pitch made him the fourth Phillie to begin their career in April. That hasn’t happened since 1970, when a shortstop named Larry Bowa led a class of five rookies in April of the final season of Connie Mack Stadium.