aaron nola

Odubel Herrera apologizes to teammates after miscues cost Phillies a game

Odubel Herrera apologizes to teammates after miscues cost Phillies a game

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ATLANTA — The dateline says Atlanta, but it might as well say Planet Odubel.

Phillies fans have visited the locale before.

It’s the place where you can see Odubel Herrera drive balls into the gaps with his sturdy bat and run them down with his quick legs. It’s the place where he oozes the talent that allowed him to go from unheralded Rule 5 pick in 2014 to the All-Star Game in 2016.

It’s also the place where he can infuriate those around him with boneheaded plays, lapses in concentration and lack of hustle.

Monday’s game against the Atlanta Braves offered a distilled version of what makes Herrera alternately exciting and exasperating. He belted a solo home run to give the Phillies a lead in the first inning, but by the time the game was four innings old, he’d made a mistake on the bases and in the outfield and both proved costly in a 2-1 loss in which the Phils wasted a strong start from Aaron Nola and saw their six-game winning streak die (see first take).

Herrera’s play earned him a postgame meeting with manager Gabe Kapler. A few moments later, Herrera spoke with reporters and offered his apologies to his teammates.

Herrera’s first miscue came in the third inning when he was on his way to a hustle double but was called out when he failed to slide into second. Had he slid, the Phils would have had runners at second and third with one out for the middle of the order. Instead, there were two outs and winning pitcher Julio Teheran eventually pitched out of trouble.

“I’m not sure if the game changed there, but it was certainly an important play in the game,” Kapler said. “There’s no doubt about that. I talked to Odubel about it. It’s a play you have to slide on. He knows that. And next time he goes in, he’s going to slide, for sure.”

Herrera knew he messed up because he swatted himself upside the head as the umpire called him out. He said he misread the play and thought he could make it without sliding. On his way out to center field for the next inning, Herrera and Rhys Hoskins chatted briefly in the outfield. Hoskins appeared to be giving Herrera a pep talk or maybe some tough love.

“I apologized to him,” Herrera said. “I said, ‘My bad. My bad.’ I felt bad. He said, ‘Don’t worry, we got you.’”

In the fourth inning, Herrera and rightfielder Aaron Altherr failed to communicate on a sacrifice fly. No one called the ball, so Altherr came way over from right field to make the play, but his throw to the plate was late, allowing Ozzie Albies to score what proved to be the decisive run. The ball should have been Herrera’s all the way.

After the game, Kapler told Herrera, “You’re the captain of the outfield as the centerfielder and so at that point, you call everybody off, you take that ball, you get behind it, and you make your best throw to the plate. He understands that well and next time out he’s going to throw his ass out at the plate.”

Herrera admitted he should have called for the ball and made the play.

“It’s something I have to learn from,” he said, referring to the whole night.

Aaron Nola not enough as Phillies' win streak ends at 6

Aaron Nola not enough as Phillies' win streak ends at 6

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ATLANTA — The Phillies’ six-game winning streak came to an end in a 2-1 loss to the Atlanta Braves on Monday night.

Phillies starter Aaron Nola pitched well. He allowed just four hits and two runs over six innings, but Atlanta starter Julio Teheran was a little better. Teheran held the Phillies to a run over six innings. That run was a first-inning homer by Odubel Herrera. Two innings later, Herrera committed a costly base-running mistake to hurt a potential rally.

The Braves snapped a 1-1 tie on a sacrifice fly by Kurt Suzuki in the fourth inning. The fly ball was hit to center field, but rightfielder Aaron Altherr had to make the play after some confusion between he and centerfielder Herrera. It was not immediately known why Herrera pulled off the ball. There may have been a miscommunication between he and Altherr. He might have lost it in the lights. Altherr actually made a strong throw to the plate trying to get Ozzie Albies, but Herrera would have had an easier time because his momentum was moving directly toward home plate.

Earlier in the game, Herrera hurt the Phillies on the base paths. Carlos Santana had reached on a one-out walk in the third inning. Herrera then stroked a ball to right field. He tried to turn it into a hustle double and would have been successful had he slid into second base instead of gone in standing up. Herrera’s failure to slide allowed Nick Markakis to throw him out from right field. Herrera knew he made a bad play because he immediately slapped himself upside the head as the umpire was ringing him up (see story).

If Herrera had been safe, the Phillies would have had runners at second and third with one out. Instead, they had a runner on third with two outs and Teheran eventually pitched out of trouble.

Teheran also pitched out of trouble in the sixth. He gave up a leadoff double to Rhys Hoskins then got three quick outs as the Phillies failed to move the runner.

Atlanta's bullpen pitched three scoreless innings.

Nola’s ERA in four starts is 2.22.

The Phillies are 9-6. Half of their losses have come against the Braves, who are also 9-6.

Notes
• Reliever Victor Arano pitched two perfect innings and is up to 7 1/3 perfect innings for the season and 9 1/3 dating to his last two outings last season.

• Cesar Hernandez did not start for the first time this season. He is just 5 for 31 (.161) lifetime against Teheran.

• Mark Leiter Jr., recovering from a forearm strain, ramped up his progress with a bullpen session. Pat Neshek, on the DL with a shoulder strain, began throwing on flat ground.

Phillies improve to .500 as J.P. Crawford rewards Gabe Kapler's faith

Phillies improve to .500 as J.P. Crawford rewards Gabe Kapler's faith

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Two outs, bottom of the seventh. Tie game. Runner on second base. Due up is a guy mired in an 0-for-18 slump with just one hit in 25 at-bats on the season. On the bench is a guy with 11 RBIs in the previous four games.

Sounds like a pinch hitter might be in order, right Gabe Kapler?

“No,” the Phillies manager said, boldly.

Kapler said he never thought about using Maikel Franco as a pinch hitter for slumping J.P. Crawford with the game on the line Tuesday night. Crawford rewarded his manager’s faith by pulling a tie-breaking base hit into right field to help propel the Phillies to a 6-1 win over the Cincinnati Reds at Citizens Bank Park (see first take). Crawford’s first hit since March 30 gave the Phillies a 2-1 lead. An inning later, rookie Scott Kingery put it out of reach with his second homer in as many days, an arching grand slam into the left-field seats.

“Pretty special,” Kapler said of Kingery’s slam.

Aaron Nola threw 103 pitches over eight innings of three-hit ball for his first win of the season. He hooked up in a good pitchers' duel with Homer Bailey. The Cincinnati right-hander carried a no-hitter into the sixth and looked to be on his way to a win after Nola issued a four-pitch walk with two outs in the fifth, paving the way for the Reds to take a 1-0 lead.

Cesar Hernandez singled with one out in the sixth and stole second with two outs. He scored the tying run on a double by Odubel Herrera.

All six of the Phillies’ runs came on two-out hits.

Crawford’s tie-breaking hit, against reliever Jared Hughes, was key — and maybe a little improbable, given his poor start.

“It was really cool to see him come up with a huge knock for us,” Kapler said.

Crawford had spent the previous few days trying to correct a flaw in his swing. He had been “getting around” the ball instead of “staying inside” it. Who noticed the flaw?

“Everyone,” Crawford said. “I watched a lot of film the last couple of days and have been working on it really hard. Finally happy to see some results.”

Crawford’s first at-bat of the game produced a hard lineout to left field. He hit it right on the barrel — the best contact he’d made in a while — and that fueled his confidence for later in the game. It also fueled Kapler’s confidence to let him hit in a big situation in the seventh. Crawford escaped an 0-2 hole before stroking the 2-2 hit.

“He was swinging the bat well and managing his at-bats well,” Kapler said. “We trust J.P. We’ve said that many days in a row now. It’s nice to see him reward the faith his teammates have in him.”

The Phillies entered this homestand 1-4. They have won four of five to run their record to 5-5 entering the final game of the homestand Wednesday night. The wins have come against two lowly clubs, Miami and Cincinnati, and another one, Tampa Bay, is sitting out there on Friday. But you can only play the team that appears on the schedule. The Phils have made some hay on this homestand, and on Tuesday night, J.P. Crawford was happy to finally lend a helping hand.