Phillies-Athletics observations: Jorge Alfaro powers Phils to 4th win in 5 games

Phillies-Athletics observations: Jorge Alfaro powers Phils to 4th win in 5 games


Jorge Alfaro hit a tiebreaking two-run homer into the center field hedges in the sixth inning and the Phillies used seven pitchers to beat the Oakland Athletics, 5-3, on a soggy Saturday night.

With Rhys Hoskins hogging the attention these days, Alfaro is quietly hitting over .300 and looking comfortable behind the plate. The 24-year-old Colombian pounced on Simon Castro’s first pitch for his fourth homer in his 21st big league game this season. 

The Phillies rallied from a 2-0 deficit following a 1-hour, 46-minute rain delay in the third inning to win for the fourth time in five games. Cesar Hernandez and J.P. Crawford had RBI singles, and Crawford added a sacrifice fly. 

Ben Lively gave up a solo homer to Matt Olson in the first and didn’t return after the rain delay. 

The victory left the Phillies needing to finish 5-9 to avoid 100 losses. 

• After playing shortstop Friday, Crawford was back at third base, and the rookie snagged a hard line drive toward the line in the fifth. He continued to show he can hit big league pitching, with his sharp single to right off Chris Smith in the fourth tying it at 2. 

• Ty Kelly pinch hit for Lively after the delay and his liner to left turned into a double after Olson’s ill-advised dive. He scored on Cesar Hernandez’s two-out single up the middle. 

• Lively allowed two runs and two hits with two strikeouts and no walks in three innings. The weather thwarted another audition as he seeks a spot in next year’s rotation. 

• Odubel Herrera made a fine running catch of Matt Joyce’s deep drive to center to end the eighth. He then was hit by a pitch in the bottom of the inning and promptly stole second. 

• What happens when you combine Sepember baseball with expanded rosters and a lengthy rain delay that knocks out both starters? Seven combined pitchers through five innings and 14 in all. Victor Arano (1-0) pitched two hitless innings and Hector Neris allowed Jed Lowrie’s solo homer in the ninth before earning his 21st save. 

• Shortstop Freddy Galvis started after getting Friday off. He drew a one-out walk and raced to third when Castro (1-3) threw wild to first. But Nick Williams then fanned chasing a high fastball and Hoskins flied to left. 

• Outfielder Aaron Altherr was out of the lineup, but don’t be alarmed. “Just being careful with his hamstring,” manager Pete Mackanin said. "Plus, I’ve got to get everyone into games. It gives (Tommy) Joseph another start.” Joseph started at first and Hoskins was back in left field. 

• It started to rain in the second inning and home plate umpire Jerry Layne called for the tarp in the bottom of the third at 7:45 p.m. Play resumed at 9:31, but not before an amusing rain delay competition featuring right-hander Nick Pivetta (see story)

• Hoskins provided proof of why he’s a natural first baseman and not an outfielder. His throw home on Matt Chapman’s fly to medium left field hit the ground before it reached the pitcher’s mound, allowing Mark Canha to score and make it 2-0 in the second inning. 

• After homering in six straight games, Hoskins is 0 for 6 in the past two. He was upset when Layne rang him up as he tried to check his swing on a pitch in the dirt in the seventh. 

• Keep the remote handy Sunday while you watch the Eagles. Right-hander Henderson Alvarez, who pitched a no-hitter in 2013 and made the NL All-Star team a year later, makes his Phillies debut in his comeback from shoulder problems. Alvarez hasn’t pitched in a big league game since 2015 thanks to multiple surgeries and last month was with the Long Island Ducks of the Atlantic League (see story). Lefty Sean Manaea (10-10, 4.65 ERA) starts for the A’s. 

• Clayton Kershaw, Yu Darvish, Alex Wood and Kenta Maeda are scheduled to pitch for the major league-leading Dodgers when they visit for a four-game series starting Monday. 

What's up with Phillies top pitching prospect Sixto Sanchez?

Photo: NBCSP

What's up with Phillies top pitching prospect Sixto Sanchez?

CLEARWATER, Fla. — Sixto Sanchez, the Phillies' top pitching prospect, has been noticeably absent from game action in minor-league camp.

Joe Jordan, the Phillies' director of player development, says there's nothing to be alarmed about.

"He had the flu and he's over it now," Jordan said. "He's fine now. No issues. He's 100 percent."

Jordan said Sanchez got up to 30 pitches in a bullpen session this week.

"He let it go with all his pitches," Jordan said.

Jordan added that Sanchez would pitch in a game in the next few days. He added that Sanchez would open the season on time with the Clearwater club, though his innings will be watched at the outset until he's fully stretched out.

Sanchez, 19, is a power-armed right-hander with remarkable control. He went 5-7 with 3.03 ERA in 18 starts at Lakewood and Clearwater, both Single A affiliates, last season. He pitched 95 innings, struck out 84, walked 18 and had a WHIP of 0.958.

Phillies take long look at Roman Quinn as potential backup SS

AP Images

Phillies take long look at Roman Quinn as potential backup SS


FORT MYERS, Fla. — However the Phillies’ bench shapes up — whether it features four or five men during the first week of the regular season — one thing is a must:

“We need somebody who can play shortstop, absolutely,” manager Gabe Kapler said.

“We need someone who can play multiple positions in the infield on our bench and someone who can play multiple positions in our outfield on the bench. That’s a necessity.”

Kapler has taken a long look at Roman Quinn at shortstop the last two days. Quinn played four innings there Sunday against the Twins. He was there for the entire game Monday against the Red Sox.

Quinn grew up playing shortstop and outfield. He broke into pro ball as a shortstop but moved to center field during the 2014 season, when it became clear that J.P. Crawford was the shortstop of the future. Now, Quinn is relearning the shortstop position so he can potentially serve as a utility man on the Phillies’ bench. He’d be an intriguing talent to have on the bench because he’s a switch-hitter with electrifying speed.

As a shortstop, the Phillies won’t be looking for Quinn to be a Gold Glover. They need someone to make the play on an emergency or fill-in basis. Quinn made three plays in Monday’s game. He short-hopped one throw and Carlos Santana made the pick. He knocked down one ball, recovered and made a strong throw for an out. He made a nice play on a groundball while shifted behind second. It wasn't the prettiest exhibition, but it got the job done.

“The more I play there, the more comfortable I’m getting,” Quinn said. “I’m enjoying it. I’d like to think I can play any position. It’s fun coming in from center field and playing shortstop. I love it.”

Quinn turns 25 in May. Some schools of thought might come down against carrying a player of his potential as a reserve. Certainly, more time in Triple A would not hurt him, especially after missing more than three months with an elbow injury last year. But the Phillies are open to the possibility of carrying Quinn. His shortstop audition the last two days has made that clear.

“Everyday reps at the minor-league level are incredibly valuable,” Kapler said. “However, because a guy is on the bench at the major-league level doesn’t mean his development is stunted. He’s getting a different kind of experience and a really valuable experience.”

Tom Eshelman was charged with four runs in the bottom of the ninth as the Phils squandered a three-run lead and lost, 6-5, to Boston.

Aaron Altherr drove in four runs. He belted a three-run homer in the fifth inning against Boston ace Chris Sale. Cesar Hernandez grinded out a long at-bat before striking out and Santana and Rhys Hoskins both walked before the home run.

“When you have a guy like Sale, making him work is critical,” Kapler said. “Cesar’s punchout was an incredible at-bat. Santana and Hoskins made him work. [Sale] gets a little fatigued and Altherr gets a pitch to whack. So Altherr hitting a home run doesn’t happen in a vacuum. It happens as a result of team baseball.”