Phillies

Instant Replay: Rockies 4, Phillies 3

Instant Replay: Rockies 4, Phillies 3

Updated: Saturday, 1:45 a.m.

BOX SCORE

DENVER — The Phillies lost their fourth straight game on their current road trip, and reliever Luis Garcia lost his second in as many nights Friday when he yielded a run in the eighth that gave the Colorado Rockies a 4-3 win.
 
Garcia began the eighth by walking pinch-hitter Pat Valaika, who took second on catcher Cameron Rupp’s passed ball. With two outs, Garcia intentionally walked left-handed hitting Charlie Blackmon to get to DJ LeMahieu, a right-handed hitter.
 
LeMahieu bounced a go-ahead single to right, sending the Phillies to their major-league-leading 28th one-run loss against 14 such victories.

Nolan Arenado tied the game at 3-3 when he belted his 25th home run in the seventh after the Phillies had taken their first lead of the game.

Aaron Altherr’s single gave the Phillies a short-lived 3-2 lead in the seventh. Cesar Hernandez led off with a double and took third on Freddy Galvis’ slow chopper to shortstop. With the infield drawn in, Altherr lined a one-out single off the glove of shorstop Alexi Amarista.

In the sixth, the Phillies finally broke through with two runs and tied the game at 2-2. Altherr led off with a single and scored on Nick Williams’ third straight hit, a one-out double. Maikel Franco followed with a triple.

After Vince Velasquez gave up two runs in the first on three walks and a single, the Phillies were unable to quickly retaliate in the second when they loaded the bases with no outs on singles by Williams, Franco and Odubel Herrera, the latter’s a bunt hit. But Cameron Rupp struck out, Velasquez popped out and Hernandez bounced into a force out.

Starting pitching report
Despite struggling with his control, Velasquez worked five innings. He issued a career-high six walks and hit a batter. However, he worked four scoreless innings on 60 pitches after a shaky 36-pitch first when he was nicked for two runs. Velasquez walked the bases loaded, and with two outs, Carlos Gonzalez found a hole in the Phillies’ shift and grounded a two-run single to right. It was the Rockies’ only hit in the inning and just one of three they got off Velasquez, who stranded eight runners and never retired the side in order.

Rockies starter Kyle Freeland exited the game with a left groin strain after throwing 11 pitches, 10 strikes, in one-third of an inning. He gave up a leadoff single to Hernandez and struck out Galvis as Hernandez stole second. But Freeland left with the count 0-2 on Altherr. The last pitch was a slider, and Freeland grimaced after throwing the ball.

Bullpen report
Ricardo Pinto, who was recalled Friday, began his third stint this season with the Phillies. He gave up a one-out single in the sixth to Amarista but then got Blackmon to ground into a double play. But Pinto yielded Arenado’s 25th homer with one out in the seventh, a game-tying shot that ended Pinto’s outing.

Chris Rusin relieved Freeland and pitched 3 1/3 scoreless innings, throwing a season-high 58 pitches.

At the plate
Playing his 28th game and making his 26th start, Williams had his 10th multi-hit game. 

Hernandez extended his hitting streak to nine games. He has reached base in 16 of 17 games since coming off the disabled list July 17.

Franco’s run-scoring triple to right center in the sixth was his first triple of the season. 

Altherr went 2 for 4 with one RBI and broke an 0-for-13 slide before he was taken out of the game on a double switch in the eighth. The outfielder is headed back to the disabled list with a reaggravation of his hamstring (see story).

In the field
Herrera was robbed of a hit in the eighth when leftfielder Gerardo Parra made a sprawling catch of his low liner.

Velazquez fielded pitcher Antonio Senzatela’s sacrifice attempt after Jonathan Lucroy led off the fourth with a double and threw Lucroy out at third.

Roster moves
Pinto was recalled from Triple A Lehigh Valley, taking the place of Jake Thompson, who was optioned to Lehigh Valley after Thursday night’s game in Anaheim, California. Pinto was 1-0 with a 6.28 ERA in 10 games in two previous stints with the Phillies this season.  

The Phillies recalled catcher Jorge Alfaro from Lehigh Valley as coverage for Andrew Knapp (see story). Knapp was hit on the back of his right hand with a foul ball Thursday night. X-rays were negative and Knapp is listed as day to day.

Infielder Ty Kelly was optioned to Lehigh Valley. In 48 games with the Phillies, the switch-hitting Kelly hit .183 with one homer and 10 RBIs.

Catching on
Alfaro flew from Buffalo, New York, to Denver by way of Charlotte, after being told at 2 a.m. he was recalled from Triple A Lehigh Valley. The move was made because the Phillies were uncertain about the status of Knapp. 

Alfaro, who played in six games with the Phillies last September, said, “It feels good to be back. I don’t know how long it’s going to be, but I’m just going to enjoy my time here. And when they give me the opportunity to play … keep playing hard.”

Alfaro, 24, who is out of minor-league options after this season, is hitting .241 with seven homers and 43 RBIs in 84 games with Lehigh Valley with a .649 OPS. He has 16 walks and 113 strikeouts.

“I know it’s not been that good,” Alfaro said of his season, “but it’s not that bad, because you learn a lot from when you fail a lot. And I think this year is going to help me a lot for next year.”

Familiar face
The Phillies saw reliever Pat Neshek for the first time since the July 26 trade that sent him to the Rockies for three young minor-league prospects. In 43 games with the Phillies, Neshek, whom the Phillies acquired from the Astros in the offseason, went 3-2 with a 1.12 ERA, allowing 28 hits in 40 1/3 innings with five walks and 45 strikeouts. But Neshek, who can be a free agent after this season, turns 37 next month and wasn’t part of the rebuilding Phillies’ future.

“He was really good for us, and I hated to see him go,” manager Pete Mackanin said. “He was very efficient for us and a likeable guy. It happens. We’re going through a process where we’re trying to find out about younger pitchers. So in that regard, it’s in our best interest that we would get to look at the younger guys, even though he did a great job for us. If we were clinging to hopes for a pennant, it’d be a different story. Then I would have been mad at the GM for trading him.”

Up next
Here are the probable pitching matchups for the rest of the series:

Saturday — Nick Pivetta (4-6, 5.42) vs. Jon Gray (3-2, 5.52)

Sunday — Aaron Nola (8-7, 3.16) vs. Jeff Hoffman (3-2, 5.18)

Saturday’s game starts at 8:10 p.m. Sunday’s series finale starts at 3:10 p.m. The Phillies are off Monday and conclude their eight-game road trip with games at Atlanta on Tuesday and Wednesday.

Carlos Santana is ready to show Maikel Franco the way

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NBC Sports Philadelphia/AP Images

Carlos Santana is ready to show Maikel Franco the way

CLEARWATER, Fla. – The numbering is a little off in the Phillies’ spring training clubhouse. Usually lockers are assigned in numerical sequence, clockwise around the room. But this spring, No. 41 comes immediately after No. 7.

Why?

Because that’s the way Carlos Santana wanted it.

“I told the team that I wanted Maikel Franco right next to me,” the new first baseman said after his first workout with the club Saturday. “That's something that I wanted. I really like him. He's a special kid. I appreciate him a lot. And, not only him, the whole group is nice. But I really want to work with him and help him out.”

Santana, 31, and Franco, 25, are both natives of the Dominican Republic. They bonded this winter. After Santana signed with the Phillies in December, he worked out at the Phillies' academy in the DR with Franco.

It’s no secret this is a big year for Franco (see story). He needs to finally put together his potential or the team may look elsewhere – hello, Manny Machado – for its next third baseman.

Franco’s big area of need is Santana’s area of strength: Plate discipline. Santana walks almost as much as he strikes out. He has registered a career on-base percentage of .365 while averaging 24 homers over the last seven seasons. Franco has pop – he has hit 25 and 24 homers, respectively, the last two seasons – but his career on-base percentage is just .300 after a dip to .281 last season.

Santana has reached at least 100 walks twice in his career and at least 91 four other times. Franco had a career-best 41 walks last season.

Santana praised Victor Martinez for being a mentor to him early in his career. “That’s why I wear No. 41,” he said. Santana wants to be Franco’s Victor Martinez.

“We’re going to work together every single day,” Santana said. “We’re going to make sure he executes the plan he wants to follow. I know he’s a guy that’s very talented and he’s capable of a lot. So I’m going to be there. I’m committed to helping him. I’m going to be in the cage, hitting as many balls as possible. He already told me today that he wants to follow me everywhere he goes. If I have to go to the cage he’s going to go with me to hit some balls. He’s committed and I’m committed, too.”

The Phillies have baseball’s second-worst on-base percentage (.307, San Diego is .303) the last six seasons. The additions of Santana and J.P. Crawford to the lineup – and a full season of Rhys Hoskins, another selective hitter – should help the offense.

“When you have a guy (like Santana) in the middle of the lineup, grinding down the opposing pitcher – just imagine, you’re a pitcher on the other side and you’re delivering pitch after pitch that’s getting fouled off or a ball that is just off the corner and being taken, you get exhausted,” manager Gabe Kapler said. “Guess who benefits from that? The next man up and the next man up and there’s this ripple effect. An exhausted starting pitcher or even an exhausted reliever is a really good thing for the Philadelphia Phillies.”

Santana signed a three-year, $60 million contract with the Phillies in December. He said the Phillies’ young core reminds him of the group of youngsters that his former team, the Cleveland Indians, brought to the majors in recent seasons.

Unlike a number of other free agents who are still jobless in this unusual year for free agents, Santana jumped relatively early at the Phillies’ offer. He said it was “shocking” that so many free agents remain unsigned.

“I know baseball is going through a difficult time right now, with all of the free agents,” Santana said. “But it worked out for me. I am happy. I can only speak for myself, and I am happy I did it the way I did it. It's very surprising because there are a lot of talented free agents out there. I thought it would be very different from what it's been.”

To prepare for the new season and the new team, Santana worked with a personal trainer in the Dominican Republic. In one of the drills, he was forced to push a car.

“It was a complete workout,” he said. “It wasn't only to get ready for preseason, it was also to get ready for the season and be successful during the season.

“It's a positive atmosphere here. I see a lot of young guys, very hungry and very eager to win. You can tell everyone is ready to go here.”

Phillies add experienced candidate to their bullpen

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USA Today Images

Phillies add experienced candidate to their bullpen

CLEARWATER, Fla. – The Phillies on Saturday added to their stock of reliever candidates with the signing of veteran left-hander Fernando Abad to a minor-league contract. Abad will report to big-league camp and compete for a job on the 25-man roster.

The Phillies are likely to have an eight-man bullpen. The addition of Abad gives the Phillies four left-handed relief candidates. Adam Morgan, Hoby Milner and Zac Curtis are all on the 40-man roster. 

Morgan and Milner both shined in the second half of 2017. Morgan recorded a 1.69 ERA in 21 games over the final two months. He pitched 26 2/3 innings over that span, allowed just 16 hits and five runs, struck out 33 and walked six. Milner gave up just two runs in 21 2/3 innings over his last 27 games. He struck out 15 and managed to pitch around 12 walks. He was tough on lefty hitters (.159), but struggled against righties (.377). Curtis was a late-season waiver claim from Seattle. He pitched in just three games with the Phillies. 

Abad, 32, is an eight-year major-league veteran who has made stops in Houston, Washington, Oakland, Minnesota and Boston. He had a 3.30 ERA in 48 games with the Red Sox last season and lefties hit .227 off him.

From the right side, the Phillies have some bullpen depth with closer Hector Neris, veteran setup men Pat Neshek and Tommy Hunter, Luis Garcia and Edubray Ramos. Victor Arano, Ricardo Pinto, Yacksel Rios and Seranthony Dominquez are also on the 40-man roster. 

Dominguez hit 100 mph on the radar gun as a starter last season and is being converted to the bullpen. He is likely to open the season at Double A Reading, but “could be a quick mover,” general manager Matt Klentak said.

The list of bullpen candidates also includes two veterans on minor-league contracts: Pedro Beato and Francisco Rodriguez. The latter is a 16-year veteran who has racked up 437 saves – fourth-most all-time – in his career. Rodriguez was released by the Tigers and Nationals last summer and is trying to make the Phillies as a non-roster invitee to big-league camp.