Phillies 2015 – Week Twenty-Six
With the end of a brutal season on the near horizon, there was little to celebrate, much to learn from and one last chance for redemption. It wouldn’t make it all better. But, there was something to be said for avoiding the dreaded 100th loss of the season. That meant winning four of their last six against the New York Mets and Miami Marlins.
The off day on Monday gave us a chance to check in on top pick Cornelius Randolph. The 18-year-old Georgian played in 53 games (41 in left, 12 at DH) for the Phillies of the Gulf Coast League. He hit .302 with an OBP of .425 (15 2B, 3 3B, 1 HR, 24 RBI). His stint in the Instructional League will focus on better routes in the outfield and pulling the ball more at the plate.
Mets’ starter Bartolo Colon has absolutely owned the Phillies this year. Tuesday gave the Phightins one last shot at the corpulent 42-year-old. In the first inning, Darin Ruf followed singles by Odubel Herrera and Aaron Altherr with a rocket into the centerfield camera well to spot David Buchanan with a 3-0 lead. Buchanan, who is still only managing four or five innings a start, has been much more effective during his last few outings. He allowed a Lucas Duda solo homer in the fourth and left with two out in the fifth and two men on base. Five relievers carried it the rest of the way, with only Ken Giles allowing a two-run shot to Duda in the ninth. Phillies 4, Mets 3
Having finally vanquished their tubby nemesis Colon, the Phils set their sights on Logan Verrett, a 25-year-old righty who was making only his fourth major league start. Alec Asher started for the home team, still searching for his first win in the majors. This would not be his night. Struggling to locate his breaking pitches, the rookie was forced to rely on his fastball. It took him 38 pitches to record an out. By that point, he had walked two, thrown a wild pitch, allowed a double and a three-run homer by Daniel Murphy. When Michael Conforto took him deep to make it 5-0, Asher’s evening was finished.
Anyone looking for a glimmer of hope with this team might just find it in what happened next. For no apparent reason other than professional pride, this team dug in its collective heels. Spurred by a bullpen that was throwing zeroes, the offense collected two runs in the third on a Ruf double and another in the fifth on a Cody Asche single. Then, they tied it up on a Freddy Galvis single in the sixth. When Galvis raced to third and then home on two Carlos Torres wild pitches, they took an unlikely lead 6-5. From there, Jerome Williams, Dalier Hinojosa and Giles retired the last nine Mets as lefty Kenny Roberts won his first major league game. Phillies 7, Mets 5
In hopes of getting in front of some inclement weather in the forecast, Thursday’s start time was moved up to Noon. If you thought that Citizens Bank Park had looked empty over the last few home dates, what showed up late Thursday morning (announced attendance – 13,238) looked more like a volunteer clean-up crew.
The Mets sent rookie lefthander Sean Gilmartin to the hill against Jerad Eickhoff, the Phillies rookie who seems to like making people say the phrase “For the first time since …”. In what would be his final start of the season, Eickhoff became the first Phillies rookie since Ben Rivera in 1992 to throw four consecutive quality starts and the first since Cole Hamels in 2006 to strike out 10 hitters in consecutive starts. Ruf and Andres Blanco provided the offense as the Phils swept the Mets and kept the Grim Reaper at bay. Phillies 3, Mets 0
Two teams that were a combined 55 games under .500 were rained out in the 160th game of their season. It would have been entirely understandable if this game had simply been cancelled. But, why bring logic and sensibility into this … LET’S PLAY TWO!!!!
Welcome to the Christian Yelich Show!!! The Marlins third-year leftfielder went 8-for-9 with a walk in the doubleheader with three runs scored and two RBI.
Game 1 – Aaron Harang wrapped up a forgettable season by allowing four runs in five and two-thirds. His offense, led by Asche’s bases-clearing triple, got him off the hook and they handed a 6-5 lead to the dependable Giles. But, after Martin Pardo tripled in Yelich, Miguel Ozuna singled in Prado and the Fish took game 1. Marlins 7, Phillies 6
Game 2 – After his short, less-than-sweet outing earlier in the week, Asher was given another shot at win number one. Hulking first baseman Justin Bour’s two-run double in the first set an ominous tone as the Marlins and starter Justin Nicolino coasted to the win. On the bright side, Maikel Franco returned to the line-up with a solo homer in the fourth. Marlins 5, Phillies 2
Feeding our collective need for drama, the Phils entered the season’s final game with 99 losses. When Buchanan took the ball, loss #100 seemed like a fait accompli. At 2-9 with an ERA tickling 7.00, the second-year righthander had not exactly dominated the league. After falling behind 2-0, Buchanan managed to grind into the seventh inning while the offense tied it up on RBI doubles by Blanco and Altherr. In the bottom of the seventh, Altherr’s bases loaded triple keyed a four-run explosion. Trailing 6-2 in the eighth inning the Marlins sent Ichiro Suzuki out to pitch. The future Hall-of-Famer, who will be 42 later this month, had 2935 hits in his fifteen year career, he had 116 outfield assists. But, he had never thrown a pitch in the major leagues. He allowed one run on doubles by Hererra and Darnell Sweeney. But, Cameron Rupp, Galvis and Altherr were left with stories about that time Ichiro got them out. Giles came in to finish it off and wash the taste of Saturday’s blown save out of his mouth. Phillies 7, Marlins 2
We were warned. Baseball experts across the spectrum all predicted the Phillies would be at the bottom of the standings and here they are. On the brightside, changes that needed to be made have, for the most part, been made. We are beginning to see the future, both at the major league level and through the success of the kids in Reading. In the meantime, we got to see some fun moments. Watch for our Year In Review, coming soon!!
Looking ahead –
Don’t expect any extravagance in free agency. But, some mid-level veterans will be picked up to fill some holes and mentor the younger players. June’s Entry Draft can’t come soon enough, as the Phillies hold the #1 overall pick. Conjecture is part of the fun and we’ll have months of that to come.
Again, stay with us at The Cave for all of your Phillies news!
Start of Something Good of the Week –
Before the Mets got to Asher on Wednesday night, Phillies starters had gone 10 straight games without allowing more than 2 earned runs in a start. A streak like that hadn’t happened here since June/July 1989. Yep … there are college-educated Philadelphians who have never seen this happen in their lifetime. If they had made it to 11 games in a row, it would have matched a run they made in 1952.
Comeback of the Week –
Speaking of Wednesday night … the last time the Phillies’ bullpen threw nine innings of zeroes was April of 1991. Pat Combs walked the only three hitters he faced before he was pulled. Tommy Greene allowed those three inherited runners to score. But, from there, he, Joe Boever, Roger McDowell and Mitch Williams allowed only two hits as the Phils roared back to beat (who else?) the Mets, 5-3.