After a disappointing 1-2 series loss to the Toronto Blue Jays, your Philadelphia Phillies (31-23) hit the road for their annual West Coast Swing starting with the Los Angeles Dodgers (26-30)
They would wind up with a satisfactory split, featuring the two Aces Jake Arrieta (5-2, 2.16 ERA ), and Aaron Nola (7-2,2.18) doing their jobs in the two wins, and the defense helped them out time and again. The two losses came from the pen in the first game after Vince Velasquez (4-5, 4.08 ) pitched a decent 5.2 innings, and just a bad outing from Zach Eflin (1-2, 4.50)
With the team on the west coast this week, to be honest, the first three games, as they say in the print media, were too late for this edition, I will try to give a quick synopsis of them.
Before I get to that I would be remiss if I did not start with an injury report, sponsored by…
Comings and goings:
The earliest injury was to J.P. Crawford who went on the 10 day DL on 5/21 with a right forearm strain. It could still be weeks before he is back. Meanwhile we are seeing the adventure and athleticism that is Scott Kingery at SS, not only because of the injury to Crawford, but also one to utility man Pedro Florimon, who broke his right foot on a foul ball in game two. That injury also quashed what was supposed to be an off night for Maikel Franco.
Certainly the one that made the most news was an own foul ball that hit Rhys Hoskins in the mouth, in the opener.
He actually played the next night. After a routine CT scan on Wednesday found a small fracture he returned to Philadelphia for further examination. As the city held its collective breaths, it was announced that a non-surgical option would be course they would take.
“It looks like it’s going to be more of a weeks thing than a months thing which is really good news,” Kapler said. “The break is stable so it does not require surgery.”
It is expected that Rhys would meet up with the team in San Francisco, this weekend.
Dylan Cozens was brought up from the Lehigh Valley Iron Pigs, for his first time to the Bigs, on his 24th birthday no less, to take Hoskins’ roster spot. Cozens in 50 games this season – 38H, 10HR, 62B, 75K, in 168AB. He does have 25BB.
3B Mitch Walding (2011 5th round) was also brought up for his first time in the majors, for Florimon He can play 1B and OF as well. In 48 games in LHV he slashed 271/.379/.484 with seven HR and 26 BB in 48 games.
This has to be quite a jolt for a 25 yr old kid in his first season at AAA, after seven years riding the buses of the Minors.
“It’s an incredible feeling,” Walding said. “I had a lot of ups and downs coming through the system. I really struggled really hard for the first couple years of my career. It was one of those things where I just took pride in my defense and was hoping that my offense would come around. I got a lot of help from a lot of great coaches through the year that really stuck with me and helped me out on both sides of the ball. That’s just a testament to the Phillies. They really gave me a chance and continued to work hard with me so I could get to this point in my career.”
In other moves, RHP Drew Hutchison was DFA’d and RHP Mark Leiter Jr. took his place.
“We think Leiter deserves this opportunity,” Kapler said. “We could use him an inning at a time or as a long man. His splitter/changeup combo is kind of unique.”
Game 1: Come From Ahead Loss
This was certainly the toughest of the games to stomach, as they built a 4-0 lead in the first two innings, the biggest blow being this one out 3R HR by Cesar Hernandez (7) in the 2nd inning.
Ultimately these only runs they would score off of Dodgers starter RHP Brock Stewart, and four other LA pitchers, would not be enough.
Meanwhile Velasquez was sailing along giving up no hits, though it seems typically, he was already up to 81P through the fifth inning.
In the sixth inning the Dodgers started to figure him out and he only would go for 2 outs before throwing 17 more pitches and giving up 2 runs. Kapler would then pull him for so far amazing RHP Seranthony Dominguez, who would go the next 1.1In scoreless. More on him later.
Velasquez decent final line in the ND was 5.2In, 3H, 2R – both earned – 6K, 2BB, 98P – 62 for strikes. Dominguez earned a H(6)
Unfortunately, on this night Luis Garcia and Adam Morgan would not be so good. Between them they gave up the game tying 0- Garcia 2R without an out – and a Morgan WP that put a man in scoring postion, in the 8th inning.
LA’s fourth P of the night Yimi García would earn the W(1-1). RHP Kenley Jansen got his S(12) and Morgan got the double whammy of a BS(1) and an L(0-1).
Game 2: Phillies Bounce Back
As they have done so often this season, the Phightin’s bounced right back winning game two easily 6-1, behind another good outing from Arrieta. His final line says it all 7In, 6H, 5K, 2BB, 0R, 103P – 62 for strikes, lowering his ERA to 2.16.
He was staked to a 3R cushion in the 2nd on a HR by Nick Williams (5) and a 2R RBI by Odubel Herrera.
That would be all they would need, but tacked on one more in the 6th, and two in the 9th. to make it an easy night for the pitching staff.
Dodgers starter RHP Kenta Maeda would only last 1.2In before leaving with an injury, but still got stuck with the L (4-4, 3.61)
After Hector Neris gave up the only Dodgers run in the 8th on 2H and only 1 out, Tommy Hunter came on to finish the inning for H(8).
Game Three: Z Eflin a Led Baloon
Bad pitching and 1-6 with RISP, 9 LOB, earned the Phillies an 8-2 loss in the third game.
Eflin was the worst culprit lasting only 4In, 7H, 5R – all earned – 5K, 1BB, 2HR, 78P – 50 for strikes. Control was not his problem. He was just very hittable as LA wound up with 4 XBH.
It could have been even worse as the Dodgers notched 13H, but went 2-10 with RISP, 10 LOB. The Phils pen did not help much giving up 3 more runs after Eflin left early.
LA starter RHP Ross Stripling has been very good this season and showed why tonight, going a solid seven innings, giving up only one R – earned on another HR by Williams (6) – on 4H, 9K, 1BB to earn the W (3-1, 1.68 ERA).
Game 4:Nola, Alfaro, and the Phantom Run
The finale was a pitcher’s duel with enough intrigue for a week’s worth of games.
The craziness began in the top of the 2nd inning after Maikel Franco worked a walk with one out – LHP Clayton Kershaw‘s only free pass of the night. After a Williams 1B moved Franco to 2nd, Jorge Alfaro would lace a single to CF, and the always aggressive 3B coach Dusty Wathan would send Franco – insanity ensued:
Franco just kept running into the dugout, the umpire never makes a signal or a very weak safe call, and once Kershaw got the ball back and got set, it was too late to appeal.
The rule that covers this is below saying the runner would have been out if:
Inexplicably the Dodgers never appealed or challenged, so the run stood. It is also possible that the Catcher could have been called for blocking the plate if they had looked at it more closely.
My take FWIW is the the umpire was watching the ball more than Franco and assumed he touched the plate especially after Franco sold it by heading right for his celebrating teammates and did not attempt to come back.
Any way it turned out to be Alfaro’s first of two RBIs on the night.
The Dodgers tied the game up in the 5th on a 2B and a single, the only two H Nola would give up on the night.
In the top of the 7th, the Phillies would add on a two out run, on an Alfaro 2B (7), scoring Kingery. Alfaro would be easily thrown out trying to stretch to a 3B,
The luck would continue for the Phils, as this out would keep Nola in the game, and he would toss a 1-2-3 SDI, to cement a solid seven innings, 2H, 1R – earned – 7K, 1BB, 111P – 73 for strikes. Nola now has a 2.18 ERA in 78.1 innings, and would be his sixth start of the year of more than 6In+ giving up no more than a single R. The Houston Astros Justin Verlander is the only pitcher with more.
Domínguez, was called upon, and with some great D behind him, including this play by Aaron Altherr
would go two innings to finish out the game. He incredibly remains unscored upon in 13.2In, 43 batters faced 2H, 0BB 15K 1-0, 2S, 6H
Kershaw in his first, and what would be his only outing, off the DL only lasted 5In, 4H, 1R – earned – 5K, 1BB, 62P – 12 for strikes. After the game he went back on the DL. He barely topped 90 on his FB, but still had the guile to baffle the Phillies hitters most of his time in the game.
For the record RHP Josh Fields would get the L (2-2, 2.36) as he gave up the winning run in the 7th.
Arrieta and Nola in the two Ws combined for 14In, 8H, 1R, 12K, 3 BB.
The Phillies finished the month of May with a 15-11 record. Last season they were 6-22. It’s the first time since May 2012 (16-13) they posted a winning record for the month.
Not that they have faced only bad teams the first two months, but June looks to be a real test for this team as they face the Chicago Cubs (30-23), Milwaukee Brewers (36-21), Colorado Rockies (30-26), St Louis Cardinals (30-24 ), Washington Natinals (32-23) and the New York Yankees (35-17).
Especially with all the injuries, we will see if the pitching staff can cover for the still not really hot offense, and/or if that offense can pick it up a bit to take some pressure off the arms.
We will know a whole lot more about this team’s chances in 2018 after this stretch.
The Phillies travel up the left coast to visit the San Francisco Giants (26-30)for a weekend set. As noted above they need to win this series against the last team with a losing record they will face this month.
Philadelphia Phillies @ San Francisco Giants
Friday, June 1, 10:15 PM ET , AT&T Park
Saturday, June 2, 10:05 PM ET , AT&T Park
Sunday, June 3, 4:05 PM ET , AT&T Park
To Be Announced