Phillies-Mets observations: Adam Morgan finally cracks as 3-game win streak ends in extras

Phillies-Mets observations: Adam Morgan finally cracks as 3-game win streak ends in extras


Adam Morgan gave up a three-run home run to Asdrubal Cabrera in the 11th inning and the Phillies fell to the New York Mets, 7-4, Saturday night in the penultimate game of their season and manager Pete Mackanin’s tenure. 

Morgan (3-3) has been one of the Phillies’ top relievers of late, having allowed two runs in his last 26 innings with 32 strikeouts. 

But the lefty gave up a single to Phillip Evans and walked Nori Aoki with one out. After striking out Jose Reyes, Cabrera belted an 0-1 changeup just over the wall in left field for his 14th home run. 

Rhys Hoskins’ two-out single to left off Jamie Callahan capped a two-run seventh as the Phillies tied it. Hoskins nearly won it in the 10th, but his long drive to left got caught up in the wind and was caught at the edge of the wall. 

Maikel Franco hit his second home run in as many days, a solo shot in the second, as the Phillies’ three-game winning streak was snapped. 

• Phillies starter Henderson Alvarez was wild in his final audition for a 2018 job. Struggling with fastball command, Alvarez walked six, including five of the final 10 batters he faced on a chilly and windy night at Citizens Bank Park. In his third start following a two-year absence from the majors because of shoulder trouble, the former NL All-Star didn’t record a strikeout in 4 2/3 innings. 

• Alvarez allowed three runs and three hits, with the Mets going ahead 3-2 in the fifth on Brandon Nimmo’s first career triple, which drove in two.

• The Phillies (65-96) were eliminated in the “race” for the worst record in the majors and ensuing No. 1 pick in next June’s draft when San Francisco (63-98) lost to San Diego 3-2 earlier Saturday.  

• Jeurys Familia, the Mets’ ninth pitcher, worked a perfect 11th. 

• Hoskins has 48 RBIs in 49 games. 

• Alvarez finished with a 4.30 ERA in three starts. He’s a contact pitcher, with a fastball topping out at 93 mph, but once threw a no-hitter and is only 27. The Phillies may try to bring him to spring training with so many openings in the rotation. 

• Alvarez continued to occasionally throw an Eephus pitch. Switch-hitting Asdrubal Cabrera lined an opposite-field single on a 59.9 mph offering in the fourth. 

• After Franco’s homer, Jorge Alfaro doubled in the second and scored on Cesar Hernandez’s infield single as the Phillies built a 2-0 lead. 

• Franco’s difficult season is finishing on an upswing. He’s homered in three of his last four games and has 23 on the year, taking over the team lead from Tommy Joseph.  

• Alfaro took a shot to the head on that play at the plate and remained down for several moments before getting to his feet and walking off. He was replaced by Cameron Rupp in the seventh. 

• Hoskins made a nice scoop of catcher Rupp’s low throw to first in the seventh.

• The Mets went up 4-2 on Cabrera’s double off Zac Curtis in the seventh. 

• Rightfielder Nick Williams threw out Juan Lagares at the plate to complete a double play to end the sixth. 

• The stiff wind blowing in prevented at least three home runs: Hoskins’ drive to left in the 10th, Nimmo’s fly to center in the first and Alfaro’s drive to right in the fourth.

• Mackanin had J.P. Crawford batting second for the second time since his call-up “just to give him as many at-bats the next two days as I can.” He went 1 for 4 and made a fine snag, spin and throw to first to get Amed Rosario in the sixth. 

• Freddy Galvis drew a walk pinch-hitting to lead off the seventh in his 161st game. Galvis on Sunday can become the first Phillies player to appear in all 162 games since Ryan Howard in 2008. 

• Aaron Altherr hit third, played left field and hit a sacrifice fly with the bases loaded in the seventh to make it 4-3. While Altherr has come on late in the season, Mackanin said his durability is still a question. “I’d like to know that a guy can play every day,” he said.

• All major league games on the final day of the season Sunday will start at 3:05 p.m. RHP Nick Pivetta (7-10, 6.26 ERA) will face Noah Syndergaard (1-2, 3.18), who will throw only 20-25 pitches in his return from a lat muscle injury. It will be Mackanin’s final game before he moves into an advisor role next season (see story)

Jake Arrieta delights crowd, breaks bats

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Jake Arrieta delights crowd, breaks bats

CLEARWATER, Fla. – Spectrum Field was sold out, filled with fans clad in green and smeared with sunblock for a game against the Atlanta Braves on a festive St. Paddy’s Day.
But the main event Saturday took place several hundred yards away at the minor-league complex, two hours before the big-league game even began.
Five days after signing a three-year, $75 million contract with the Phillies, Jake Arrieta climbed atop a mound and threw a 31-pitch (two-inning) simulated game. Scott Kingery, Jorge Alfaro, Logan Moore and Andrew Pullin were the hitters. Andrew Knapp was the catcher. Players, coaches, minor-league instructors and manager Gabe Kapler all peeked in. Dozens of fans hugged the chain-link fence to get a look at the newest Phillie. They applauded when Arrieta took the mound and again when he finished.
“It was great,” the 32-year-old pitcher said moments after the workout ended. “There’s a lot of people out here. A lot of people are excited for the Phillies in 2018. We’ve got a lot of good things going on here. A lot of guys are healthy and competing, there’s a lot of youth. It’s a really fun time to be in this organization.”
Arrieta said he felt “really good physically,” not a surprise because he came into camp in terrific shape and had gotten to over 60 pitches in bullpen sessions back home in Austin, Texas. He threw all his pitches, including a couple of knee-buckling curveballs. He broke two of Alfaro’s bats, one with a sinker, one with a cutter.
“My goal was to throw everything in the arsenal for strikes and throw my off-speed pitches in and out of the zone where I could get some chases,” Arrieta said.
Arrieta did allow some contact, mostly ground balls.
Arrieta won the 2015 NL Cy Young Award with the Cubs. He won 22 games and had a 1.77 ERA that season.
A deceptive delivery is one of Arrieta’s strengths. He throws across his body and that crossfire action makes it difficult for a hitter to pick up the ball.
“It’s extremely deceptive,” Kingery said. “Every pitch is extremely deceptive. That’s what hit me. His curveball looks like it’s coming at your head then it drops.”
Arrieta is still hoping to be ready for the first week of the regular season, but the Phillies have not formulated a firm game plan. One thing is certain: They won’t rush him. They want him for the long haul. They could hold him back 10 days or so, allowing him to build more arm strength, and he’d still make 30 starts.
Arrieta expects to throw a bullpen session in the next day or two and try to get up around 60 pitches in his next outing. That could be in a minor-league game or in another simulated game.
“As long as we continue to get my pitch count up, I think I’ll be fine going into the season,” he said.

Alex Cobb? Matt Klentak discusses replacing Jerad Eickhoff

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Alex Cobb? Matt Klentak discusses replacing Jerad Eickhoff

CLEARWATER, Fla. — The Phillies signed free-agent right-hander Jake Arrieta earlier this week.

That's probably going to be the extent of their pitching additions for now.

Jerad Eickhoff is out until at least May with a strained right lat muscle and that creates a sizable hole in the Phillies rotation.

The hole is likely to be filled internally, according to general manager Matt Klentak. The team is not likely to make a run at Alex Cobb, who remains on the free-agent market.

"I doubt it," Klentak said when asked if he would look outside the organization to fill Eickhoff's spot. "I don't think we have to. I think a lot of our guys have shown very well in camp. They have gotten their pitch counts up, they're getting to the point of being fully stretched out.

"More than anything, I think we're going to have some tough decisions on figuring out who is in the rotation, who is in the bullpen, who goes into the Triple-A rotation, who goes into the Double-A rotation. We've got a lot of tough decisions to make on that front, but I don't think we're in a position where we have to go outside. We have a lot of candidates to take the ball at the big league level so we'll be fine."

Aaron Nola will start on opening day. Arrieta will be in the rotation, though he might need an extra week or so to get ready. Vince Velasquez and Nick Pivetta are likely to hold down spots. That leaves Zach Eflin, Ben Lively, Mark Leiter Jr., Jake Thompson, Drew Hutchison and Tom Eshelman in the running for the final spot in the five-man rotation. Eshelman, strike-thrower extraordinaire, was the Phillies' minor-league pitcher of the year last year and projects to be in Philadelphia before long. However, it might not be at the outset of the season because he is not on the 40-man roster. Neither is Hutchison.

The Phillies do not need a fifth starter until April 11 so they could employ some creative roster construction until then. They could go with four starters and an extra reliever or bench man. Or they could bring an extra starter and "piggyback" him with Arrieta, a move that would allow Arrieta to make an abbreviated start during the first week of the season.

"There's a decent chance we open the season with somewhat of a non-traditional 25-man roster, not because we're trying to be cute but because we don't need the fifth starter until the 11th," Klentak said. "We're going to do whatever puts us in the best position to win those first 10 days of the season."

The Phillies made one transaction on Friday. They added utility man Pedro Florimon to the 40-man roster. He had a provision in his minor-league contract that allowed him to become a free agent if he wasn't on the 40-man roster by March 15. Florimon is a candidate for a spot on the Phillies' bench. The move doesn't guarantee that Florimon will win a spot, but it gives the team more time to evaluate him. To make room for Florimon, the Phillies designated infielder Eliezer Alvarez for assignment.

Florimon homered in the Phillies' 6-4 loss to Toronto in Clearwater Friday. Cam Rupp and Cesar Hernandez also homered. Velasquez gave up five hits and a run in 2⅔ innings. He struck out five.

In Lakeland, Pivetta allowed two runs over five innings as the Phils and Tigers played to a 6-6 tie. J.P. Crawford and Ryan Flaherty both homered.