Nationals @ Phillies W/E Update 6/26 – 6/28/15

Maikel Franco went 2 for 5 with three RBIs in the Phillies' 8-5 win over the Nationals to split Sunday's doubleheader. (AP)

Maikel Franco went 2 for 5 with three RBIs in the Phillies’ 8-5 win over the Nationals to split Sunday’s doubleheader. (AP)

The weekend series w/ the Nats started on a day dominated by the sudden resignation of Ryne Sandberg. The players under interim manager Pete Mackanin then had the added pressure of trying to recover from that by facing the lately unhittable Max Scherzer who easily covered for his depleted offense by going 5.1 before giving up a double to Freddy Galvis, which was then stranded.
Meanwhile the Nats batters, w/ some help from a little league Dominic Brown error, put up 5 insurmountable runs (4 earned) off Aaron Harang, over 6 innings. Wilson Ramos, Danny Espinosa, and Matt den Dekker (2) getting the RBI’s.

The Phillies finally douse Scherzer’s chance to tie Johnny Vander Meer‘s record of two no hitters in a row as well as the fewest hits allowed in three straight starts,3, on a Cesar Hernandez double and break the shutout streak (47.1 innings) when Brown knocks him in w/ another double in the 7th. Cody Asche follows w/ an infield single, but yet another RISP is wasted on a Cameron Rupp fly out. Ben Revere, who is having another hot June, hits a rare HR, only the 3rd in his career and his 1st as a pinch hitter, off Scherzer who came out for the 8th inning for some reason, but that is all the Phillies could muster this night.

Two hits off the DC closer, Drew Storen, add up to nothing as Brown’s base running blunder on a single by Asche which would have brought the tying run to the plate, kills any chance for a last at bats rally, eliciting boos from the thinning crowd of 22,292, to end his roller coaster evening. “I guess I’ve got to pick it up faster,” Brown said of missing the signal to stop at third in the ninth inning. “I was running hard. I know the tying run was coming up and like I said, I was running hard from second.”
5 – 2 is your final as Max Scherzer (9-5) earns the win, and Aaron Harang (4-10) gets tagged w/ the loss.

The game Saturday that never should have been started was postponed after two inexplicable innings in this day and age of radar and unlimited weather info, and was added as the 2nd game of an old school double header on Sunday, which is a telling tale of how badly the team is drawing this season. Unfortunately the starters for both sides were wasted by this, especially unnerving for the Phillies as Adam Morgan‘s 1st start against the best team in baseball, the St. Louis Cardinals, was a very good one, and he now has to wait another turn to get a chance to follow that one up.

Sunday’s game one was a poorly played -2 errors by each team and a few more plays that could have been e’s – but close and tense contest all the way to the end, with the Nationals finally getting the decision. It is winning close games like this that separate the 1st place Washington Nationals from the last place Philadelphia Philles.
Jeff Francoeur got the twin bill scoring started in the 2nd w/ a no doubt HR (5) to LF , and his 1st hit in 6 abs against Stephen Strasburg who looked strong, w/ many pitches in the upper 90’s, in his 2nd game coming off the DL.
The second inning brought a successful SDI for  Kevin Correia working around a lead off single by Michael Taylor. He would give up a hit in all but the 2nd, in his 6 innings of work.
Both pitchers were in control until the top 4th when what should have been an easy inning, falls apart after 2 outs on a walk and two questionable infield “hits”, but Correia strikes out Taylor on a nasty hook. The only thing it cost Correia was 7 extra pitches after the walk, in a game the Phillies needed the starter to go deep.
Nats get to Correia to tie the game in the 5th on a double by Denard Span who advanced to 3rd on a fielding error by Francoeur, and a sac fly by Espinosa, but gets out of the inning w/ no more damage.
DC then took the lead on a lead off walk, a single, and an RBI double by Taylor to knock Correia out of the game. Jeanmar Gomez does his job, but Jake Diekman adds another run, the 2nd unearned run, to Correia’s line on a walk and a passed ball before Espinosa pops out to end the inning.
Meanwhile Strasburg pretty much sailed through the Phillies order, who did not get a hit after Francoeur’s HR in the 2nd, until Franco breaks an 0-10 slump, w/ a single just inside the 1st base line in short RF w/ 2 out in the 6th. Francoeur knocks him in, after a walk by Ryan Howard moved him to 2nd, for his 2nd RBI of the day. They leave two men on again, as they fail to tie it up.
Phils could do no more against Strasburg as he struck out the last two batters in the 7th and left the game w/ 9 ks and two earned runs. The bullpen, including Luis Garcia who relieved Diekman, and then Justin De Fratus, pitched 3.2 scoreless innings to keep the Phils in the game, but the Nats bullpen was just as good and held the Phils w/o a run as well. Storen comes in to close the door for the 2nd game in a row. The Nats win the 1st game 3-2, thus winning the series, and their 8th straight. Stephen Strasburg (5-5) gets the W, while Kevin Correia is saddled w/ the loss.

Game two featured the just called up Severino Gonzalez, by rule the 26th man allowed on the roster in the back end of a double header, and the signed in mystery guest, Tanner Roark for the Nationals.

Once again the Phils get on the board 1st, but this time they do it early and crookedly using small ball w/ a 4 spot in the 2nd and again in the 4th after Gonzalez gave 3 back in the 3rd. A ground out by Gonzalez followed by singles by Odubel Herrara, Franco, and Brown, scoring Asche, Andres Blanco, Herrera, and Cesar Hernandez in the 2nd, and singles by Franco, Darin Ruf, and a sac fly by Carlos Ruiz, plated Gonzalez, Herrara, Franco- who wound up 2-5, 3 rbis’s and a run scored –  and Brown in the 4th. The Ruf single sent Roark to the showers after only 3.1 innings. HR’s by Ian Desmond (7), and Jose Lobaton (3), the last of which knocked Severino out of the game in the 6th, did most of the damage for the Nats. It was a serviceable spot start for Gonzalez going 5.1, giving up 4 earned runs.  Fortunately for him, Roark, and Felipe Rivero, who let in one of Roark’s 8 earned runs, were less sharp on this day.

Except for Elvis Araujo, who gave up a run on a couple of singles and a walk, the rest of the pen was solid. Jonathan Papelbon gets a rare save opp and nails down his 14th of the season.

Severino Gonzalez, is your winner (3-2) and Tanner Roark takes the loss as 27,126 announced fans saw 7 hours of action, and went home w/ an 8-5 W in the end, on a real throw-back day at Connie – er – Citizens Bank Park.


The 1st game loss made the Phillies the 1st team in MLB to reach 50 losses.It is the fewest games to 50 losses for them since 1997.

The 2nd game win was only the 2nd for a starting pitcher since May 23rd, the other by the postponed Morgan, back on Father’s day.

Next up is the battle for # 1 draft pick as the Milwaukee Brewers (29-48) come to town for the pre-holiday 4 game set.

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