Phillies sweep Padres, Herrera continues hot-hitting

Photo: David Banks/Getty Images

Photo: David Banks/Getty Images

The Phillies hot streak continued this weekend as the Fightin’s swept the Padres in a the weekend series to start the teams’ nine-game road trip.

Game 1:

On Friday night, the it took 12 innings for the two teams to finish the battle, as Cameron Rupp hit a solo shot off of Kevin Quackenbush to lift the Phillies to a 4-3 win.

Rupp’s homer was one of the four solo shits that the Phillies hit in one of the biggest ballparks in the Major Leagues.

“To win with four solo shots is atypical of us, but we’ll take it,” said Phillies interim manager Pete Mackanin, who’s team entered the night with just 75 home runs, the second-lowest total in the National League. “And we’re not in Cincinnati or Baltimore. In this place, you’ve got to hit it to get it out.”

And as the Phillies won for the 14th time in 19 games after the All-Star break, Mackanin seemed to particularly enjoy this win.

“For me, there’s nothing more fun than winning in extra innigns and using most of your players and having everyone contribute,” said the skipper.

The Phillies trailed 3-0 at one point in the game, but came back to tie thanks to shots by Domonic Brown (418 feet), Ryan Howard (426 feet) and Cody Asche (415 feet). Rupp’s home run traveled 416 feet to get out of the park.

However, it wasn’t just the home runs that led the team to the victory.

Phillies rookie pitcher Aaron Nola had his third quality start in four big-league outings, holding the Padres to three runs over his six innings of work. The most impressive moment of the night for Nola was when he came back to strike out three San Diego hitters after allowing two base runners to open the bottom of the sixth. Even though Nola’s pitch count was itching toward 100 at the time, Mackanin stuck with him.

“We wanted him to learn how to do that,” said Mackanin.

The bullpen threw six scoreless innings, led by Jeanmar Gomez, who pitched two innings in relief.

 

Friday also marked Chase Utley‘s return to the lineup as the second baseman batted leadoff for the first time since 2004. Utley went 1-for-5 on the day with a single.

Mackanin has said both Utley and Cesar Hernandez will get time at second, but there is no question the team will continue to rise

“We’re winning,” Rupp said. “That changes everything. We’re winning, having fun and everything is clicking. That’s the feeling right now.”

Game 2:

On Saturday, a pair of rookies help the team climb out of the basement for the first time since June 8 as the team won 4-2 over the Padres.

Lefty Adam Morgan threw a quality outing while centerfielder Odubel Herrera knocked in two runs with a pair of hits and scored another.

But the best part of the win was after losing 62 games before the All-Star Break, the most in the majors, the Phillies moved to 15-5 after the break, the best in the majors over that span.

During the Phillies success, the Miami Marlins have lost 13 of 15 games, and now have the worst record in the majors at 43-68 (as of Saturday Night).

It’s funny to think that one of the biggest pieces to Saturday’s win was playing for the Rangers’ Double A team just a year ago. When the Rangers chose not to protect the Venezuelan-born player over the winter by placing him on the 40-man roster, the Phillies picked him in the Rule 5 draft.

According to CSNPhilly.com’s Jim Salisbury, “Rule 5 players have to stay in the majors with their new club all season or be offered back to their old club.”

Something that everyone can agree on, Herrera will be staying put in Philadelphia for now.

It’s also funny that Herrera played mostly middle infield in the Texas system. You would almost not be able to tell with the way he has played since he came to Philadelphia. At the plate in his last 30 games, he has hit .385 (40-for-104) to raise his season average to .289.

Herrera said not being protected by Texas has been a big motivator for the 23-year-old.

“Obviously, of course,” Herrera said after Saturday night’s game. “It gives me an edge. I always believed I was going to play in the big leagues and I’m happy to be here. Every day I’m getting more confidence and learning what it is to be a big leaguer.”

Herrera’s happiness is easy to see as he plays with passion and energy.

“He plays like his hair is on fire,” said Mackanin. “He’s so much fun to watch during batting practice when he shags fly balls. He works so hard and it shows in the game. He still makes some aggressive mistakes. But, boy, he’s fun to watch play.”

When the Phillies were in spring training, Herrera made such a positive impression, that the team awared him the opening day job in center field, even tho he has just 13 games in the outfield in the Ranger’s system and 41 games in the Venezuelan winter league. Mackanin saw Herrera’s raw talent and wondered why the Rangers did not protect him.

“We asked about that,” Mackanin said. “You saw his ability and his tools. Apparently the Rangers had a good backlog of prospects. I’d like to see some of the other guys.”

In time, Mackanin might get his wish, with all the players picked up in the deal for Cole Hamels.

Back to Saturday, Herrera wasn’t the only rookie to help the team to the win. Morgan breezed threw the first three innings and successfully navigated his way out of some tight situations in the following innings. In the end, Morgan allowed just two runs over six innings, but only one was earned as the rookie left with a 3-2 lead.

Again it was Gomez, along with Luis Garcia and Ken Giles, protected the starters lead.

Gomez allowed two hits to open of the bottom of the seventh before coming back to get three outs to register a scoreless inning to protect the one-run lead.

Giles recored his fifth save of the season.

Hernandez hit an RBI triple in the eight to bring home Chase Utley, an insurance run. Utley batted lead off for the second straight game.

With Herrera’s performance, he moved his winning streak to 11 games.

When Utley went on the disabled list on June 24, he was hitting just .179, but thanks to three hits over the two days, he has inched up to .185.

Utley is a proud player that wants to show he can still play.

“I think that’s what he’s up to,” Mackanin said. “Every day is an audition for all players.”

Many think that Utley could be audition for a spot on a contending team. A veteran like Utley might be just the piece a team with a chance needs to win it all. The Yankees had a scout at the game.

Utley could be auditioning for a spot on a contending team. A veteran like him might be a good tweak for a team with a chance. The Yankees had a scout at Saturday night’s game.

Although moving out of the basement is a move in the right direction for the Phils, it didn’t stop Mackanin from having a little fun with it all.

“Maybe we want to be in last place and have the No. 1 draft pick,” he joked. “Maybe we’re screwing that up. But it’s fun watching these guys. They’re playing aggressively and pulling for each other and it all becomes contagious.”

Utley played in his 1,545th game for the Phillies, which ranks No. 7 on the team’s all-time list, moving ahead of Ed Delahanty. Utley now trails Del Ennis by 85 games. (as of Saturday)

Game 3:

Jerome Williams pitched his best game of the season and Herrera continued to swing a hot bat as the team completed its third series sweep since the All-Star Break in a 5-3 win on Sunday.

Williams continued a dominating performance by the starters over the three games, as the three allowed just five earned runs in 19 innings.

What about the bullpen you ask?

Those guys were equally as dominate, allowing just two runs in 11 innings, with one of the runs after a ball was misplayed into a hit in the outfield.

Williams allow just a solo shot to Justin Upton in seven innings of work, striking out three and while not allowing a walk. In his last two starts, Williams has allowed just two earned runs over 12 innings. He lowered his ERA from 6.36 to 5.73.

Giles now how has six saves on the year, after Hector Neris allowed one run on two hits in the eight.

Herrea went 2-for-5 on the day with a run scored and an RBI, improving his hitting streak to 12 games. After singling in the first inning, he set Ryan Howard up for an RBI double. Herrera also hit a 425-foot solo home run in the sixth, to hit .385 (42-for-109) in his last 31 games.
Herrera had two hits to improve his hitting streak to 12 games. His single in the first inning helped set up an early run. Ryan Howard drove in that run with a double. Herrera also smacked a 425-foot solo homer in the sixth.

Leadoff batter, Hernandez, singled twice, scored a run and drove one in, while Utley came off the bench and smacked a two-run, pinch-hit double down the right-field line in the top of the eighth as the Phils built their lead to four runs. Utley has three doubles in his last five at-bats.

San Diego has lost seven of its last eight. The Phillies are 30-10 in San Diego since Petco Park opened in 2004 after the 5-3 win on Sunday to complete the sweep.

Up Next:
The Phillies move on to Arizona for the next three games. Below are the probables.

Monday night — RHP Aaron Harang (5-12, 4.11) vs. RHP Rubby De La Rosa (9-5, 4.56)

Tuesday night — RHP David Buchanan (2-6, 7.23) vs. RHP Jeremy Hellickson (7-7, 4.95)

Wednesday afternoon — RHP Nola (2-1, 3.65) vs. LHP Robbie Ray (3-6, 3.01)

 

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