Phillies @ Brewers 4/22-4/24/16: Who Are These Guys?

The all of a sudden potent Philadelphia Phillies offense took the series over the Milwaukee Brewers in somewhat surprising fashion this weekend. 2-1.

The 1st game of this series lived up to that moniker, as the Phillies chalked up a number of season 1sts. First game where they scored 3 runs in an inning, and it was also the first W in a first game of a series. It was the 2nd game in a row w/ 10 hits – they reached that on Maikel Franco‘s 2nd mammoth HR of the evening, over the bullpen in LCF. Aaron Nola pitched a Solid Seven innings, 105 pitches – 74 for strikes, 7 K’s, and they won this one comparatively easily @ 5-2, adding yet one more 1st in Nola’s 1st W of the season.

Saturday night the Phillies scored 3 runs in an inning for the 2nd game in a row (wound up doing it 3 times this night), this time 4 consecutive singles after a walk and SB by Odubel Herrera. One of those singles was Tyler Goeddel‘s 2nd of the night and his 1st MLB RBI. Two of the others were single RBI’s for Old Heads  Ryan Howard and Carlos Ruiz. This Pete Mackanin guy is a genius 😉 They had won 2 in a row w/ the pitcher in the 8 hole coming into this game and that move seemed to have sparked the offense.For the 2nd night in a row Franco hit a shot into the restaurant in LF, this time for 3 runs. He is in Spring Training form now w/ 5 HRs. He also made a spectacular play from his backside in the 5th. Herrera added a 2 run jack top 9 – he went 3/4 w/ 2 walks, 2 RBI’s, and scored 4 times abetted by his two SB’s –  to give Jeanmar Gomez a chance to finish this one in a non save opp – again repeating the night before. Charlie Morton started the game, but left after 1 w/ a ham-string injury while running out his bunted ball to 1st. It took 6 relievers to finish the game, which the Phils took the lead for good after b2b 3 run innings in the 3rd and 4th. The 1st one out of the pen, Brett Oberholtzer, who was the least effective of all, got the W – his 1st as a Phillie – even after giving up 3 in the bottom of the 3rd. The final of this 4 hour marathon was 10-6 Phillies, though it was close most of the game. Mackanin put it nicely “I can’t remember everything that happened,” he said afterward. “I just know we won. I don’t care about anything else.”

The last game of the series was a see-saw battle until after the Phillies had taken the lead in the top of the 6th on b2b 2 out RBI’s by Cameron Rupp a double, and Cesar Hernandez, the wheels came off on starter Jerad Eickhoff – who earlier had helped himself by knocking in the 1st run of the game – he had 2 rbis last season. He had his hook working early – see notes below – and got b2b k’s on the curve, to end the 3rd. In that sixth inning – as in earlier innings hurt by not exactly Spaulding Guide defense – he just could not get enough outs before the Brewers scored 6 times on a lead-off HR by Scooter Gennett (could not get out of this series w/o invoking one of my favorite names in baseball right now), a single and three doubles. Hector Neris who had been lights out mostly on his splitter this series, also gave up a solo shot –  his 1st run given up this season. Milwaukee had a then 8-4 lead which the Phillies resurgent offense – every game this series w/ 10 or more hits (4 going back to the last series) and 4 or more runs – could not overcome. After the Phils got one back on a sac fly by Herrera, the final score was Brewers 8 – Phillies 5 ending their modest 3 game win streak, but still winning the series. Eickhoff took his 3rd loss to one win, going 5.1 in, 9 h, 7 R (a career high), all earned – though his d had 2 errors that certainly led to some of those – 2HR. but on the positive side 7 K’s and no walks. Wily Peralta was your winner going 6, giving up 7 hits 4R, 3 earned and 5 k’s, no long balls by the Phillies in this one.

They end up 9-10, not too bad really considering how anemic the offense was until the last game of the New York Mets series.

Notes:

Use The Hook, Luke: The 2016 pitching staff has really used the curve ball to their advantage as through Friday, per PITCHf/x data they lead MLB w/ 27.9% of their pitches being the hook. This is over 3 times higher than last season when they were ranked last. It is not like they have made a concerted effort to do so, it is just that all 5 starters have the hook as their best secondary pitch. Eickhoff said “In years past, I would get to a curveball count, throw it once, and that was it,” Eickhoff continued, “I would say, ‘There’s my curveball. I threw it.’ Now, if I miss with it, I can come back with it. Or I can throw it early in the count and throw it two times right from the get-go.” That seems to sum up all the starters thinking.

Walk the Walk: Herrera coming into Sunday’s game was leading all of MLB w/ 17 BB’s, one over Jose Bautista. He was also 7th in OBP.

Transactions: Morton as expected was put on the DL and they called up Reliever Luis Garcia from LV. They will probably replace him w/ lefty Adam Morgan when Morton’s was due to pitch again on Friday.

Next Ups: After playing every day except the day after the home opener The Phillies get their 2nd day off in a week on Monday, and then travel to DC to face the Washington Natinals on Tuesday night. The Nats are 8-2 in their last 10 coming off their 16 inning w over the Minnesota  Twins. Scheduled to start in that one are RHP Vince Velasquez (2-1, 0.93) and RHP Max Scherzer (2-1, 4.32)

I will be back typin’ and tweetin’ at you as on Wednesday night for the 2nd game of the series.

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