Phillies

West Chester's Joey Wendle enjoys 'pretty surreal' grand slam against Phillies

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West Chester's Joey Wendle enjoys 'pretty surreal' grand slam against Phillies

The ball jumped off the bat and the small section of friends and family jumped from their seats and began to roar. Joey Wendle not only had just hit his first career grand slam Sunday, it came against the team he rooted for while starring at Avon Grove High School and leading West Chester University to a national championship. 

The Oakland second baseman had to be reveling in the moment as he circled the bases at Citizens Bank Park, right? 

“Did I run around the bases? I don’t even remember that,” Wendle said. “Yeah, it was pretty surreal.”

Wendle’s second career home run came one year to the day after he went deep against Yu Darvish in Texas and in just his fifth game since being recalled from Triple A Nashville. It was the go-ahead homer in the Athletics’ 6-3 victory (see story)

“Definitely a special memory,” the 27-year-old said. “Definitely something I’ll remember for the rest of my life.”

The Phillies led 3-2 in the top of the sixth inning when Henderson Alvarez was lifted after walking Matt Joyce and allowing a single to Chad Pinder. Left-hander Hoby Milner came in and struck out Matt Olson for the first out, and then manager Pete Mackanin brought in Edubray Ramos. 

The righty struck out Matt Chapman but then walked Mark Canha to load the bases. 

Up came the lefty-hitting Wendle. And he wasted no time by pouncing on a first-pitch slider and drilling it to right field. 

“That guy has more than a strikeout per inning and I was looking for something up in the zone because I knew what he could do if I got buried in the count,” Wendle said. “Just got a slider, kind of backed up a little bit and I was able to drive it out.”

Wendle finished 1 for 4 and is 3 for 9 since his call-up. He hit .285 with eight homers and 54 RBIs in 118 games at Triple A. 

Wendle faces obstacles to stick with Oakland. Veteran Jed Lowrie is ahead of him at second base and Franklin Barreto is a 21-year-old prospect the A’s value. But manager Bob Melvin said he’s been happy with what he’s seen from Wendle, who’s the first alum of Division II West Chester to play in the big leagues since John Mabry retired in 2007. 

“It’s one thing to hit a grand slam to put your team ahead. It’s another when you do it at home,” Melvin said. “And this is a close-knit group of guys, especially the younger guys that we brought up and Joey’s been with them, so they were really happy for him.”

Phillies hitters rack up the strikeouts

Phillies hitters rack up the strikeouts

BOX SCORE

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

BOX SCORE

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.