Welcome to our new weekly series Philadelphia Phillies Phriday Phil-Ins where we will recap the weekday games this season. We hope this will compliment what our Seamus Killeen does so well in his Monday wrap-up of the weekend games and a look at the NLEast. You can see his recap of the opening weekend here. I hope to highlight one of these games every week by live-tweeting as @pattisonavenue, but we will see how that goes as the season progresses.
21st Century Baseball:
This week not one, but two of the games were available in streaming format only. Tuesday’s game was so because NBCSportsPhiladelphia channels were showing the two indoor pro teams, so the game was only on their on-line platform. Wednesday’s matinee was exclusively streaming on Facebook as part of a new partnership with MLB.
Game One: Phrozen Bats
It was a crisp 40 drizzly degrees with 12 mph winds at first pitch, for the first game of the series between the Phillies and the New York Mets, already delayed a day by a snow-out.
The Phillies bats were as cold as the weather as they mustered just three hits — all singles — and one was a bunt hit by early season OBP machine, Cesar Hernandez. They put a runner on to start four of the first six innings, and the first and third batter on in the 9th, but wound up 0-7 with RISP.
It was a defensive shift against noted Phillie killer Jay Bruce that led to the Mets two runs.
Phillies starter RHP Ben Lively. induced what should have been a DP ground ball to SS J.P. Crawford, but unfortunately at the time he was to the right of second base, so that could not happen. This enabled Yoenis Cespedes to reach second, and was later knocked in on a double by Todd Frazier. That would be the only run the Metropolitans would need in this game. Frazier did score later for the eventual 2-0 final score,
“That’s what the shift does,” Lively said after the game. “You can’t really do anything about that. It sucks but you have to move past it and make pitches to the next hitter.”
Manager Gabe Kapler acknowledged the role that the shift played in the outcome.
“It was a double play almost anywhere on the field,” he said.
“But we have to shift Bruce in that position. That’s the one ball we’re not going to be able to turn it on, but over the course of time we feel like that’s the best positioning for Jay Bruce.”
Lively was the first Phils pitcher to go as far as 5.2 in, 6H, 5K, 1 BB, on 91P – 62 for strikes, so though he got the L, it was a positive outing. He outlasted Mets starter RHP Matt Harvey, who did not come out for the 6th after throwing 86P – 55 for strikes, 1H, 5K, 1BB. Four other Mets pitchers stifled the Phils. The same number of Phillies bull pen guys kept the team in the game, allowing no more Mets runs.
Game 2: Not enough O
This game also looked to be low scoring, with Phillies RHP Aaron Nola facing RHP Noah Syndergaard.
Like the first game Nola outlasted Syndergaard, even with the return of his college and early Phillies career problems in the first inning.
After a BB to Brandon Nimo to start the game, the next hitter Cespedes launched one over the LF wall. Nola would also give up a two out single and then a BB, but got out of the inning with no more damage done.
Meanwhile the Phillies offense would continue their early season penchant for seeing a lot of pitches – more on that below – and would finally tie the game up in the 3rd inning.
After a one out single by Hernandez and a 2b by Carlos Santana, put runners at 2nd and 3rd, a GO by Nick Williams would score Cesar, and move up Santana. Then a BB to Rhys Hoskins set up what could be called a delayed steal of home by Santana as Rhys took off for second, which drew what should have been an out in a run-down. But as Hoskins raced back and forth, Santana broke for and made it safely home.
Syndegard lasted one more inning, 92P-57 for strikes, 4H, 7K, 2BB, and the two earned runs.
Nola settled down and kept the Mets scoreless the rest of the way thru 5in, 87P – 55 for strikes, 4H, 4K, 4BB, and also 2 earned runs.
The Mets took their eventual 4-2 lead off of Drew Hutchison in the 6th inning. Amed Rosario tripled over the head of a probably too shallow Williams, scoring Asdrubal Cabrera and Wilmer Flores.
Jeurys Familia would get his 2nd save of the series to cement the sweep for the Mets.
For the series the Phillies had only 8 H, and struck out 26 times. Yes it is early, and they are showing a lot of patience at the plate as shown below, but these numbers have to change if they want to stay relevant in 2018.
Game 3: Breaking the Home Opener Jinx
A sellout crowd of 44,488 at Citizens Bank Park, braved yet another early March day in April, in the hopes that the Phillies would break a 6 straight home opener losing streak.
They were not disappointed.
Once again the Phils starter went farther than the Mets, as rookie LHB Caleb Smith left after 3 In, throwing only 77 P, but only 40 were strikes. His problem was control as he walked six to help give up 3R – all earned – on 3H , and 4K.
Phillies RHP Nick Pivetta was a lot more efficient going 5.2 In, 97P- 66 for strikes, 4H, 9K, 0BB, 0R
Manager Gabe Kapler braved the Boodiots taking Pivetta out with two outs, one on in the 6th. The move to Adam Morgan worked out well, as he struck out power threat Justin Bour on three pitches.
“Whenever people are unhappy, I’ll always ask myself why and if there’s anything I can do to adjust accordingly,” Kapler said. “I’m gonna work my tail off for these fans. Hopefully, over the course of the season, they will learn to trust my process is strong.”
“They cheer for the players,” Kapler said. “I’ll take that.”
“It was the right move,” Pivetta said. “Gabe is an awesome manager. He always has our backs.”
The rest of the pen followed suit, showing what was supposed to be a strength of this team, preserving the W for Pivetta, and a SO for the staff.
Maikel Franco, off to a slow start – .091 BA, .231 OBP – had a big day, including his 2R RBI single in the bottom of the first which gave the Phils their first lead in 26 innings. He would wind up 3 for 4, 1R, 4RBI, and a double away from the cycle. His other two RBIs came on a HR (1) to LF, scoring Odubel Herrera, which increased the lead to 5-0 in the 7th.
The Phils would put up a season low in K’s for the offense at nine, three of those came in the 8th inning. That actually lowered their average, which was around 11 coming into this game. Meanwhile their pitching struck out 12 Fish.
Phillies Injury Phront:
There was some news on two of the Phillies injured pitchers this week.
Pat Neshek‘s MRI on n his right shoulder showed inflammation, but nothing significant. He will stay shut down a few more weeks.
Mark Leiter Jr. was cleared to possibly start throwing during this homestand.
The team’s early problems are partially due to the fact that they scored only three runs off the opponents BP coming into Thursday. Franco changed that with his 2 RBI HR in the 7th.
The speedy Franco has also already reached his career high in 3B at 1, which he has done his three preceding seasons.
On Thursday The Phillies saw 177 pitches, averaging 4.54 pitches per plate appearance. They lead MLB in number of P seen per PA, and tied for third in BB, but at the same time are 4th from last in H. They walked nine times on Thursday, the first time they drew nine or more BB in a nine-inning game since July 23, 2012.
The Phils have an off day on Friday, and then then two more against the Marlins. Sunday of course features the first start by a certain off-season acquisition.
Miami Marlins @ Philadelphia Phillies
Saturday, April 7, 6:05 PM ET
Dillon Peters, LHP
Sunday, April 8, 1:35 PM ET
Trevor Richards, RHP