Phillies-Athletics observations: Offense quieted by Daniel Mengden in 2-hit shutout

Phillies-Athletics observations: Offense quieted by Daniel Mengden in 2-hit shutout


The Phillies were done in Friday night by an unorthodox pitcher and the Oakland Athletics’ version of Rhys Hoskins. 

Matt Olson hit his 15th homer in 30 games, a 483-foot, two-run blast off Mark Leiter Jr. in the first inning, and Daniel Mengden pitched a two-hitter to lead the A’s to a 4-0 victory at Citizens Bank Park that snapped the Phils’ three-game winning streak. 

While Hoskins was befuddled by Mengden and his funky delivery in an 0-for-3 night with two strikeouts (see story), Olson continued his torrid pace. The rookie sent Leiter’s 90-mph fastball more than halfway up the second deck in right field. It was his 19th homer in 51 games. 

Matt Joyce hit a two-run homer in the second off Leiter (3-6), who then settled down and matched a career high with nine strikeouts in six innings. 

Mengden, who sports an old-school handlebar mustache and even older-looking double-clutch windup, allowed two singles to J.P. Crawford and no walks in his first career complete game. 

• Hoskins, who entered with a major-league record 18 homers in his first 34 games, struggled to time Mengden’s strange delivery. The rookie chased a pitch in the dirt for strike three in the second and fanned looking on three pitches in the fourth. He grounded out sharply to second in the seventh to snap his homer streak at three games. 

• Leiter’s nine strikeouts matched his performance Aug. 5 against Colorado. He allowed four earned runs and walked one in a 103-pitch outing. 

• Mengden (1-1) had never faced any active Phillies player, and it showed. While he has had limited success and was just called up Sept. 5, his style kept the Phillies off-balance. The righty struck out seven and sat down the final 11 batters. 

• Ricardo Pinto worked out of a jam in a scoreless seventh and Kevin Siegrest struck out two in a perfect eighth. Zac Curtis struck out two and walked one in a hitless eighth in his Phillies' debut. 

• Mengden retired the first seven Phillies' hitters until Crawford singled to left. Crawford singled to right in the sixth. Aaron Altherr’s flyout to deep left was the closest the Phillies came to scoring in their first shutout since Aug. 16 at San Diego. 

• Crawford made his second start at shortstop and couldn’t make a backhand play of Mengden’s grounder in the second. Instead of the third out, the ball bounced off Crawford’s glove for Mengden’s first major-league hit. Right after a fan yelled “Freddy Galvis makes that play,” Joyce hit a two-run shot to right to make it 4-0. 

• Andrew Knapp made his first start at catcher since Aug. 3 following a broken hand and had no issues behind the plate. 

• It was the Athletics’ first game here since 2011. The Philadelphia A’s left town after the 1954 season, moving to Kansas City before ending up in Oakland. Playing interleague games this late in the season felt odd on both sides. 

“We obviously have some history here as far as our organization goes and that’s kind of cool, but our interleague [schedule] was kind of broken up,” A’s manager Bob Melvin said. “It’s two teams that really don’t know a whole lot about each other.”

And the Phillies never did figure out Mengden. 

• The Phillies must go 6-9 the rest of the way to avoid 100 losses. 

• Phillies RHP Ben Lively (3-6, 3.86 ERA) faces RHP Kendall Graveman (5-4, 4.48) on Saturday night.

Phillies hitters rack up the strikeouts

Phillies hitters rack up the strikeouts


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


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.

• 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.