Phillies

Instant Replay: Phillies 10, Braves 3

Instant Replay: Phillies 10, Braves 3

BOX SCORE

Fill-in starter Jake Thompson pitched five scoreless innings and Aaron Altherr homered twice as the Phillies battered the Atlanta Braves, 10-3, on Friday night.

The Phils hit four homers in all, three in a seven-run fifth inning.

Altherr, who had the first of those homers in the fifth, added another in the eighth. He now has 16 this season.

Thompson (1-0) made his first start of the season when Jeremy Hellickson, the subject of trade speculation, was scratched shortly before the start of the game (see story).

Altherr and Cameron Rupp opened the fifth with back-to-back homers off Braves starter Julio Teheran (7-9). Tommy Joseph added a three-run shot later in the inning, and Altherr launched an opposite-field blast off reliever Jason Hursh in the eighth.

Atlanta’s Kurt Suzuki and Sean Rodriguez slugged solo homers off Phillies reliever Hoby Milner in the seventh.

Starting pitching report
Thompson, recalled Tuesday from Triple A Lehigh Valley, made three relief appearances in the majors earlier this season. On Friday he allowed five hits while striking out five and walking two.

He had runners on in every inning, but showed a sharp slider and changeup; all of his strikeouts came courtesy of one of those pitches. He also had help from his defense.

The Phillies turned a double play after the Braves put runners at the corners with one out in the first, and Altherr, playing left field, threw out Matt Kemp at second in the fourth, when he attempted to stretch a single into a double.

Teheran went 4 2/3 innings and allowed eight runs on seven hits while striking out five and walking two. He was nicked for a run in the first when Suzuki, the Braves’ catcher, threw wildly to third on Freddy Galvis’ steal, and responsible for all seven runs in the fifth.

Bullpen report
Milner allowed the homers to Suzuki and Rodriguez in his two innings of work, and the Braves pushed another run across against Adam Morgan in the eighth with the help of Maikel Franco’s error.

Joaquin Benoit retired Ender Inciarte to end that inning, after Atlanta loaded the bases with two down, then pitched a scoreless ninth.

Atlanta reliever Sam Freeman blanked the Phils over 1 1/3 innings, but Hursh surrendered Altherr’s homer.

At the plate
Altherr began the game hitting .290, but manager Pete Mackanin dropped him to the seven-hole in the order because he was 1 for 12 off Teheran.

At the same time, Mackanin said, “He’s not the same hitter he was last year. He’s shorter to the ball.”

Altherr showed that in his fifth-inning at-bat, ripping Teheran’s 2-0 fastball into the upper deck in left, well over 400 feet away. He took Hursh’s 95-mph offering the other way for his second homer.

Rupp followed Altherr’s first homer of the night with his 10th, the fourth time this season the Phils have gone back to back. The last time was July 9 against San Diego, when Altherr and Galvis did so.

Galvis added an RBI triple later in the inning, then continued home on a throwing error by Atlanta second baseman Brandon Phillips.

Joseph’s three-run shot was his 16th homer of the season.

Suzuki hit his 11th homer and Rodriguez his second in the seventh for the Braves. Both of Rodriguez’s homers have come as a pinch hitter. He has four such homers in his career.

Pair of trades
Shortly after the game, the Phillies traded veteran outfielder/infielder Howie Kendrick to the Nationals (see story).

And later in the night, Hellickson was sent to the Orioles (see story).

Medical report
Kemp left the game after straining his right hamstring on the fourth-inning play in which he attempted to stretch a single into a double. 

Up next
Phillies RHP Jerad Eickhoff (2-7, 4.71) opposes LHP Sean Newcomb (1-5, 4.81) when the series continues Saturday night at 7:05 on NBC10.

Phillies owner John Middleton would 'love' to sign an upgrade

Phillies owner John Middleton would 'love' to sign an upgrade

CLEARWATER, Fla. — Even though the Grapefruit League schedule starts on Friday and opening day is less than six weeks away, the Phillies are still hungry to improve their pitching.

In an interview with John Clark of NBC Sports Philadelphia on Tuesday, Phillies owner John Middleton said the team was “very” active in pursuing potential upgrades. Middleton went on to say that he would “love” to do something on that front.

Middleton made the comments as a number of attractive free-agent pitchers, including Jake Arrieta, Alex Cobb and Lance Lynn, remain unsigned.

“We’re having talks every single day with different people,” Middleton said. 

Middleton gets updates on those talks regularly from general manager Matt Klentak.

“Matt kind of now knows me, when we walk in the office and see each other for the first time he basically says [since] the last time I talked to you, John, at 5 o’clock yesterday afternoon nothing happened or this has happened,” Middleton said with a laugh. “Then I’ll see him at lunch time and still nothing has happened or this has happened. We have a lot of conversations about that.”

Middleton is eager to win, but he remains committed to seeing the rebuild through. Klentak has often said he won’t make a shortsighted move that would jeopardize the future. He has said his goal is to play in October for a decade, not just one year. That’s Middleton’s goal, too.

If the Phillies were to make an upgrade on the pitching side in the coming days or weeks, it would have to be on their terms. They have been in continuous contact with Arrieta’s representatives all winter, but won’t go to five or more years to sign the right-hander who turns 32 in March. If Arrieta were willing to sign a deal in the two- to four-year range, the Phillies would definitely have interest (more on all that here).

Stay tuned on that one. Camps are open. Free agents Eric Hosmer and J.D. Martinez have signed in recent days. Like Arrieta, they are represented by Scott Boras. The pitching logjam looks ready to break and could have an impact in Philadelphia, where the Phillies are methodically striving to become playoff relevant again.

“We wouldn’t be out talking to people the way we are if we didn’t think that we could get that little extra push,” Middleton said. “I think we all feel this way. [It] just has to be done in an intelligent, thoughtful and reasonable way.

“But, yeah, I’d love to do something."

Phillies willing to sign Jake Arrieta if ...

Phillies willing to sign Jake Arrieta if ...

CLEARWATER, Fla. — Longstanding rumors linking the Phillies to free-agent pitcher Jake Arrieta continue to percolate. On Tuesday morning, baseball reporter Jon Heyman tweeted that the Phillies and Arrieta were engaged in "dialogue."

Here’s what we know: At the winter meetings in December, Phillies officials met with Arrieta’s agent, Scott Boras, to go over a number of Boras’ clients. At the time, Arrieta was looking for a deal in the neighborhood of seven years and $180 million to $200 million. Those parameters were not a fit for the Phillies, who have placed a premium on short-term contracts while they move their rebuild forward.

The Phillies have remained engaged with the Arrieta camp throughout the winter and they have made it clear that if the pitcher’s price tag comes down, they would have interest in a union. It is believed the Phillies would be willing to sign Arrieta, who turns 32 in March, to a two- or three-year contract, at a significant salary and possibly with some creative structure such as an out after one year.

Earlier this winter, the Phillies had reservations about meeting free agent Carlos Santana’s original contract demands of upwards of five years. When Santana’s demands were lowered to three years, the Phillies pounced and signed him for $60 million. Such a lowering of demands could make Arrieta a Phillie. Of course, there are other teams interested. Arrieta has long been linked to the Cardinals and Nationals.

Arrieta would come with some risk. All pitchers of his age and odometer reading do. He won the National League Cy Young Award in 2015 while going 22-6 with a 1.77 ERA for the Chicago Cubs. He went 18-8 with a 3.10 ERA the following season and slipped to 14-10 with a 3.53 ERA in 2017. That trend downward has coincided with a slight drop in velocity and that has given teams pause at signing Arrieta to a long-term deal. It would seem that even the Cubs had reservations about Arrieta as they let him walk and signed free agent Yu Darvish.

In the last few days, a couple of big-name Boras clients have signed. Eric Hosmer went to the Padres and J.D. Martinez to the Red Sox. Arrieta might be next. If he would come at the Phillies’ price, he might end up being a Phillie.

Signing Arrieta would cost the Phillies a second- or third-round draft pick in June.