Phillies

Instant Replay: Rockies 8, Phillies 5

Instant Replay: Rockies 8, Phillies 5

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DENVER — The Phillies’ road trip turned nightmarish Saturday night when rookie Nick Pivetta gave up five runs in the first and three more in the third, leading to an 8-5 loss to the Colorado Rockies.

It was the Phillies’ fifth straight loss on their current eight-game trip. They have scored eight runs in two losses at hitter-friendly Coors Field and 13 runs during their five-game skid.

Pivetta gave up five runs in a 42-pitch first, a rally that included three singles, a walk, a sacrifice fly, a hit batter and first baseman Tommy Joseph’s two-base error. Pivetta lasted a career-low tying 2⅔ innings, departing after Pat Valaika homered in the third.

Phillies starter Vince Velasquez needed 36 pitches to complete a two-run first Friday, but he lasted five innings and allowed just those two runs in what became a 4-3 loss. Pivetta was considerably less fortunate and unable to take the game through three innings.

Rockies starter Jon Gray limited the Phillies to one run in seven innings before Daniel Nava hit a three-run homer off Zac Rosscup in the eighth. The Phillies tacked on a run in the ninth when Freddy Galvis’ two-out flare fell between leftfielder Carlos Gonzalez and shortstop Valaika.

Starting pitching report
Pivetta quickly tumbled into a deep hole, giving up five runs (three earned) in the first and yielded eight runs (six earned) while lasting just 2⅔ innings. He put himself in immediate trouble, loading the bases in the first with no outs on a walk, hit batter and single.

Gerardo Parra became the fourth straight batter to reach base when he singled home two runs. Mark Reynolds grounded into a run-scoring fielder’s choice, followed by Joseph’s two-base error when he moved left for Gonzalez’s grounder that bounced past him.

A sacrifice fly and single completed the carnage.

Pivetta got a double-play grounder in the second but gave up Parra’s double and Reynolds single to open the third. Gonzalez hit a sacrifice fly to deep center. And with one out, Valaika hit a two-run homer that ended Pivetta’s 64-pitch outing.

It was the Phillies’ shortest start since June 26 at Arizona when Pivetta also went 2⅔ innings.

Gray gave up six hits and one run in seven innings and remained unbeaten this season at Coors Field, where he is 3-0 with a 3.00 ERA in four starts.

Bullpen report
Mark Leiter Jr. relieved Pivetta and saved the Phillies’ bullpen. Leiter pitched 4⅓ scoreless innings, allowing two hits with no walks and nine strikeouts. Leiter, who retired the first nine batters he faced before Gray singled, threw 40 of 52 pitches for strikes.

Closer Hector Neris took the mound in the eighth with four days of rest. He gave up a leadoff double to Gonzalez and two walks to load the bases but struck out DJ LeMahieu to end a 26-pitch inning that included 13 strikes.

At the plate
Daniel Nava finished a double shy of the cycle and hit his fourth homer, a three-run shot off Rosscup, who took over for Gray in the eighth. 

The Phillies scored in the fourth on Nick Williams' double-play grounder after Freddy Galvis and Nava opened the inning with singles.

In the field
With the bases loaded and two outs in the fifth, Galvis was robbed of a hit when first baseman Reynolds lunged to his right to spear Galvis’ hard-line drive.

Roster moves
Rightfielder Aaron Altherr (right hamstring strain) was placed on the 10-day disabled list. He was double-switched out of Friday’s game in the eighth inning after re-aggravating the injury. Altherr went on the disabled list July 26 and missed 10 games after straining that hamstring.

Outfielder Cameron Perkins, who was optioned to Triple A Lehigh Valley on Tuesday, was recalled to take Altherr’s place on the roster. In 64 games with the IronPigs, Perkins is hitting .295 with 17 doubles, six homers, 22 RBIs and a .387 on-base percentage.

In 28 games with the Phillies this year, Perkins is hitting .207 (12 for 58). 

Short wait
Catcher Jorge Alfaro was in the lineup, one day after being recalled from Lehigh Valley to give the Phillies coverage at the position with Andrew Knapp day-to-day with a bruised right hand.

Mackanin said Alfaro started because he has caught Pivetta this season, and in Sunday’s afternoon game, Mackanin wanted Cameron Rupp to catch Aaron Nola.

A September call-up last season, Alfaro played in his seventh game in the majors and made his fifth career start. He singled in each of his first two at-bats and went 2 for 4.

Hot streak
Nola will make his 50th career start Sunday and face the Rockies for the first time. He has allowed two or fewer runs in eight straight starts, going 5-3 with a 1.66 ERA in those outings with 15 walks and 63 strikeouts in 54⅓ innings. During that span, Nola has limited opposing hitters to a .205 average and a .575 OPS.

“His command’s been better,” pitching coach Bob McClure said. “He’s kept the ball lower with all pitches. (Gone) up by design. The quality of his secondary pitches has gotten better as well.”

Nola didn’t pitch after July 28 last year because of a right elbow strain and finished the 2016 season with 20 starts and 111 innings. With an eye toward his future health, Nola took a preventive measure with his delivery and brought it to spring training.

“He’s got a higher leg kick now,” McClure said. “He came up with that based on getting hurt last year. He felt that by having a higher leg kick in the windup took stress off his arm. In doing that, his control suffered a little bit in the beginning. But it’s obviously smoothed out since then.” 

Right stuff
Mackanin said there was no timeline for when Altherr might return after re-aggravating his right hamstring and straining it for the second time in less than two weeks. With their regular rightfielder sidelined, Mackanin said, “I’m just going to wing it.”

Nava started in right Saturday, and Mackanin said, he was “going to probably play” Hyun So Kim there Sunday, although Kim has expressed a preference for playing left field rather than right. 

Williams has made 27 major league starts — 16 in right field, 10 in left field and one as the designated hitter. His past five starts have been in left field.

“I like him better in left,” Mackanin said. “I didn’t like the way he looked so much in right. But our ballpark is funny in right with that fence out there.”

Ten of Williams’ 16 starts in right have been at Citizens Bank Park, including his past seven games there from July 21-28,

Up next
The Phillies turn to Nola (8-7, 3.16) to stop the bleeding Sunday in the series finale. The Rockies will counter with Jeff Hoffman (3-2, 5.18)

The Phillies are off Monday and conclude their eight-game road trip with games at Atlanta on Tuesday and Wednesday.

Phillies hitters rack up the strikeouts

Phillies hitters rack up the strikeouts

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Winning covers up a lot of flaws. Or at least stops people from talking about them. So as the Phillies were running out to a 14-7 start in the new season, the alarming number of strikeouts that their hitters were racking up was hardly noticed.

Not Tuesday night.

Phillies hitters struck out 16 times in an 8-4 loss to the Arizona Diamondbacks (see first take).

Manager Gabe Kapler rationalized the high number of Ks by pointing out that opposing pitcher, lefty Robbie Ray, “is a strikeout guy with good stuff.” Indeed, Ray struck out 11 in just 4 2/3 innings.

Nonetheless, this was the 15th time that the Phils have reached double digits in strikeouts in 22 games this season. They entered the game ranked seventh in the majors with 211 Ks. Now, it’s up to 227.

“Part of working deep counts and seeing a lot of pitches is that you’re going to go through stretches where you strike out some,” Kapler said. “That doesn’t mean that we don’t need to put the ball in play more. We do. It’s an absolute necessity. But sometimes you have to give credit to the opposing pitcher.”

Carlos Santana struck out three times. So did rookie Jorge Alfaro. Twenty-four of his 52 plate appearances have ended in a strikeout this season.

Rookie Scott Kingery led the way with four strikeouts. He is mired in his first funk as a big leaguer. Over his last 25 at-bats, he has struck out 12 times while collecting just two hits.

“The one thing we know is that the league is going to adjust to our hitters and we trust that Kingery has the ability to adjust back,” Kapler said. “We’re seeing some adjustments made. He was really, really good early on and he’s going to go through a stretch where he scuffles a little bit. It doesn’t change our confidence level in him. In fact, it's as high as it has ever been. We know he’s going to come back strong. He’s going to need to make some adjustments but there’s no doubt in his capability to do so.”

Kingery acknowledged his struggles and said he would learn from them.

“I’ve started swinging at balls in the dirt,” he said. “That's always been one of my weaknesses. I'm chasing a little bit right now. They're just really kind of nibbling over the plate. They're not really throwing me too much. They're starting to work ahead with off-speed and trying to get me to chase. So now it's something I'm going to have to adjust back to.

“I knew this was going to happen. Coming into the season, they probably didn't have much information on me. I didn't have much information on them. You start to see some tendencies and stuff like that. They start attacking areas that you're not strongest in and when I chase, that piles up the strikeouts for me.

“I'm going to have to adjust and learn some stuff now to get back to hitting the ball like I was in the beginning of the season. There's definitely room to learn and grow as a player. It's definitely going to be a learning experience that is ongoing.”

Arizona hitters struck out 12 times, but the D-backs hit three homers, two against Phillies' starter Vince Velasquez, as they improved to 16-6.

Phillies fall to Diamondbacks, finally lose at home again

Phillies fall to Diamondbacks, finally lose at home again

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The test got a little harder for the Phillies on Tuesday and they did not fare well. They were beaten, 8-4, by the Arizona Diamondbacks on a rainy night in South Philadelphia.

The Diamondbacks hit three home runs. Phillies hitters struck out 16 times, four by rookie Scott Kingery. It was the 15th time they’ve reached double digits in strikeouts in 22 games this season.

The game was played in a not-so-swift three hours, 49 minutes.

The Phillies entered the game with the fifth-best record in the majors after posting a four-game sweep of Pittsburgh. Arizona, meanwhile, had the second-best record in the majors. The Phils fell to 14-8 with the loss while Arizona improved to 16-6.

Phillies starter Vince Velasquez’s string of three straight quality starts ended as he went just 4 2/3 innings.

Velasquez struck out four of the first six batters he faced then allowed back-to-back homers to open the third. His mates got him the lead with three runs in the bottom of the third but he ran into trouble in the fifth inning and was touched for a pair or runs after the first three batters reached on a walk, a single and another walk. David Peralta’s double brought home two runs for Arizona. Velasquez threw 36 pitches in the inning and got just two outs.

Arizona starter Robbie Ray had the stuff to strike out 11 in 4 2/3 innings. But he threw 107 pitches and got an early hook.

Victor Arano’s scoreless innings streak ended when he gave up an RBI single in the sixth as Arizona went up 5-3. Arano had not allowed a run in 10 1/3 innings this season.

The Phillies shaved a run off the Arizona lead in the bottom of the inning on a two-out hit by Cesar Hernandez.

The Diamondbacks put the game away on a two-run homer by Daniel Descalso in the eighth. The home run capped a three-run inning against Phillies reliever Yacksel Rios.

Notes
• Odubel Herrera did not start as manager Gabe Kapler parlayed Monday’s off day in the schedule into an extra day of rest for Herrera.

“This gets him back-to-back days of full recovery and tissue repair,” Kapler said. “Then Odubel will get right back in there and play a long stretch of games.”

Herrera entered the game as a pinch-hitter in the sixth and was hit by a pitch. He has reached base in 24 straight games, dating to last season.

• Jorge Alfaro struck out three times. Twenty-four of his 52 plate appearances have ended in a strikeout this season.

• The rookie Kingery got the start in right field. He struck out four times and is 2 for his last 25 with 12 strikeouts.