After finishing the four game sweep of the Pittsburgh Pirates over the weekend, the Philadelphia Phillies would face the second consecutive Division leader for the three weekday games as the Arizona Diamondbacks came to CBP.
Game one:Arizona Offense Splashes Through The Rain
Both starting pitchers, Vince Velasquez (1-3, 4.50 ERA) and Arizona’s LHP Robbie Ray (2-0, 5.13) looked good the first two innings. The snakes would score first in the 3rd on B2B HRs by Alex Avila (2) and Jarrod Dyson (1), but the resilient Phightin’s came right back and took the lead in the bottom of the frame. This rally would feature the awakening of some of the missing bats this early season.
The already woke Cesar Hernandez started it with a BB. Then Carlos Santana, whose batted balls are starting to find holes, singled. After a Scott Kingery K, Rhys Hoskins walked to load the bases. That set the stage for the formerly struggling Aaron Altherr to double (2) in the first two guys. A Maikel Franco Sac fly gave the Phils the lead.
The next inning was scoreless, but both starters had worked so hard, that they did not make it pas the second batter in the 5th.
Unfortunately Velasquez would get away from what worked the early innings and gave the lead back on a single sandwiched by two walks, and two of those scored on a two out double.
One out later Velasquez was gone after throwing 86P- 58 for strikes, 4H, 4R – all earned – 6K, 2BB, 2 HR, but it was those walks that hurt him as both scored. Ray, even though he had a lead, on 5H, 3R – all earned- 11K. 3BB, by the 2nd out of the 5th had thrown 104P – 67 for strikes, and was pulled, so received a ND.
The D-Backs blew the game open in the 8th inning as Yacksel Rios coughed up 3 runs on two singles, the second of which scored the toughest out of the series, Paul Goldschmidt who stole second and reached 3rd on an error. A 2 run HR by Daniel Descalso (3) set the final score of 8-3.
Game 2:Ragged But Right
It was billed as the battle of the Cy Youngs as Jake Arrieta (3-2, 1.82) faced RHP Zack Greinke (2-2, 4.80).
It certainly looked that way as each team could only put up singletons, the Phils in the 1st and 3rd, and the D-Backs in the 3rd and 4th.
That 4th inning though, despite the fact that AZ tied the game, could have actually been a turning point in the Phillies favor.
Thru the 4th only one ball had been hit hard against Arrieta, and that was a Sac Fly. All four hits had been bloopers or IF grounders hit too slowly or the wrong spot. Jake would seem to lose his command in that 4th. He would wind up walking the bases loaded, which came after a throwing error by Franco and a single to start the inning, and uncharacteristically would walk in the tying run.
Then it got interesting as a gift bunt easily allowed Arrieta to toss the ball to home plate for the first out. Below you can see the great pick by Franco that started the inning ending 5-3 DP.
The only run scored would be an unearned run because of the Franco E, but I am sure Jake will tell you he earned it.
More ragged stuff would ensue in the 6th inning, including two more E’s which would lead to another unearned run. This would give the Phillies 22 errors, at that time tied for most in NL.
That AZ lead would be short-lived as Carlos Santana’s 2B (5) off the top of the right field wall (his sixth hit in his last 19 at-bats) started the game winning rally. After an Odubel Herrera BB (extending his on base streak as noted below), one out later Altherr did this:
The pen would do their job including Hector Neris‘, as befitting this non Spaulding Guide game, not so smooth 5th S ; ʞ, BB, WP, K, BB, FO to Herrera.
Arrieta would get the W 7 In, 4H, 3R – only one earned – 2K, 2BB, and a team high 107P – 63 for strikes, without his best stuff. Manager Gabe Kapler said after the game “It’s not just because he’s exceptionally talented physically. He’s gifted mentally. He’s strong-minded. When the game gets a little bit tough, he just gets a little bit tougher.”
Greinke would get the L.
What would turn out to be the only W for the Phils of the series, at least broke an 8 game win streak for Arizona against them.
Game Three: Lively wasn’t
This game is barely worth writing about as the Phillies offense, even though they scratched out two runs, could not overcome a terrible outing by starter Ben Lively (0-2, 6.85). He would give up 7R – all earned – on 7H, 1K, 4BB, 67P – 37 for strikes, lasting only 2.1 innings.
On the Posidelphian side, the pen would only give up one more run to this powerful Diamondbacks offense, which compliments the excellent pitching staff they have. The final on an otherwise beautiful day for baseball at CBP was 8-2. Arizona RHP Matt Koch would earn his first win of 2015, setting his era at 1.93.
Even though it was a series loss, there were positives to be seen on the offensive front
Santana’s BA is .318 (7 for 22) with 3 doubles and 4 walks in his last 27 PA. Altherr is also stepping it up, going .538 (7 for 13) with one BB in his last 14 PA.
OBP Machine Herrera kept on rolling and has reached safely in 26 straight going back to last season. It is the longest active streak in MLB.
Another guy continuing his hot start is Hernández who has multiple H in five of his last eight games and reached base safely in 19 of his 23 games this season. His .425 OBP is 4th in MLB among second basemen.
Except for Rios in the middle game the pen has held their own, keeping this team in games late.
So after facing the Pirates and the Diamondbacks, both division leaders coming in, the W/L results are mixed at 5-2, and the defense needs some work, but as of this posting the Phillies are only a half game behind the New York Mets, so things are looking good right now.
The Atlanta Braves, a game behind the Phillies in 3rd Place, come to town for the weekend.
I will be at CBP tomorrow night and for the third time this season will see Aaron Nola pitch. Of course I like everybody else in MLB is interested in seeing Atlanta’s LF prospect Ronald Acuña Jr.
Julio Teheran, RHP
Saturday, April 28, 6:05 PM ET , Citizens Bank Park
Mike Foltynewicz, RHP
Atlanta Braves @ Philadelphia Phillies
Sunday, April 29, 1:35 PM ET , Citizens Bank Park
To Be Announced
Vince Velasquez, RHP
Make sure you catch Monday’s recap and wrap up of the NL East by our Seamus Killeen