Henderson Alvarez

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

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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)

Henderson Alvarez solid as audition with Phillies continues in loss to Braves

Henderson Alvarez solid as audition with Phillies continues in loss to Braves

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ATLANTA — It had been three years to the day since Henderson Alvarez had notched a pitching victory in the major leagues. Back on Sept. 23, 2014, while pitching for the Miami Marlins in a season in which he made the National League All-Star team, he beat the Phillies with 7 2/3 shutout innings.
 
A shoulder injury limited Alvarez to just four starts the next season. He did not pitch in 2016 and was forced to show his wares in the Independent Atlantic League before latching on with the Phillies in late August.
 
The Phils were looking for some pitching depth to get through the season, but Alvarez didn't care about the reason. He was happy for the audition in Triple A and the call to the majors this month.
 
Alvarez's long road back from surgery put him on the mound at SunTrust Park, the new home of the Atlanta Braves, on Saturday night, exactly three years after his last big-league win. It would have been pretty sweet for the 27-year-old right-hander to come out of the assignment with a win — and he was in line to get it before the bullpen let a late lead get away in a 4-2 loss to the Braves (see observations).
 
"It is what it is," Alvarez said, shrugging after the game. "That's the way baseball is sometimes. You have to make every single out. There are things you cannot control. You just go out there and try your best."
 
Alvarez pitched five shutout innings and left with a 2-0 lead thanks to an RBI double by Rhys Hoskins and another run that scored on a passed ball.
 
"He pitched through five innings, got through it and didn't give up a run," manager Pete Mackanin said. "His ball had some movement and he changed speeds."
 
The bullpen could not hold the lead. Newcomer Kevin Siegrist gave up a solo homer to Rio Ruiz in the sixth inning on a 1-2 breaking ball that registered 69 mph on the radar gun. Two innings later, Luis Garcia was tagged for three runs as the Braves tied the game and took the lead.
 
Up and down the roster, the Phillies are in audition mode. Siegrist, a waiver claim from St. Louis, is looking to stick with the club as a lefty out of the bullpen. Ditto for Adam Morgan, who has been sensational over the last couple of months. He racked up another scoreless inning in this game and has allowed just two runs in his last 23 innings, dating to Aug. 2. Garcia has been auditioning toward the back of the bullpen and performed well. He had not allowed an earned run in his last 12 1/3 innings before this outing.
 
Garcia allowed three hits and three runs. Dansby Swanson singled home the tying run after Garcia fell behind in the count and had to pump fastballs with a man on second, and pinch-hitter Johan Camargo broke the tie with a two-out, two-run double to right-center.
 
"When you're pitching in a clutch situation, you can't fall behind hitters," Mackanin said. "You’ve got to get ahead. I think he threw five consecutive fastballs to Swanson. He tried to get a strike and couldn't do it. And you have to do it to be successful. You cannot get behind the hitters.
 
"It all comes down to getting clutch hits, making clutch plays and making clutch pitches. We're looking to win a World Series. You've got to be clutch."
 
The Phillies could have used a clutch hit or two to pad their early lead. In one big situation, they had the bases loaded against Braves starter Julio Teheran with two outs in the seventh and Odubel Herrera grounded out to second base on Teheran's last pitch of the night.
 
Herrera is hitless in the first two games of the series after hitting in each of the first 13 games (at a .434 clip) between the two teams this season.
 
It's not clear where Alvarez fits into the Phillies' future — or even if he does. He could make one more start over the final week of the season or he could finish in the bullpen. It does not seem likely the Phillies would keep him on the 40-man roster all winter, but it's not difficult to envision the club trying to bring him back on a minor-league deal where he could provide organizational depth and continue to get stronger post-surgery. Several teams will probably have interest in doing that.
 
Whatever happens, Alvarez had to feel good about his work Saturday night. Though he did not get his win, it was a step in the right direction on the comeback trail.
 
"It's been a roller-coaster," he said. "I just have to keep working hard."

Rhys Hoskins scuffles as Phillies drop series to Athletics

Rhys Hoskins scuffles as Phillies drop series to Athletics

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Turns out, Rhys Hoskins is human after all. 

After a torrid series against Miami that prompted teammate Nick Williams to declare the rookie sensation “an alien,” Hoskins showed he’s susceptible to the bad stretches that all major league hitters go through. 

A weekend that matched two of the hottest rookie sluggers in the game ended up one-sided, as Oakland’s Matt Olson homered for the third straight day and the Athletics took the rubber game of the three-game series, 6-3, Sunday with the help of former West Chester University star Joey Wendle’s grand slam (see observations)

The game at Citizens Bank Park ended when Blake Treinen fanned Hoskins with a runner on. Hoskins went 0 for 5 with three strikeouts. He struck out six times and went 0 for 11 in the three-game series. 

“I think he just expanded the zone,” manager Pete Mackanin said. “I think up until the past few days, and this is just my perspective on it, I think he was just letting it happen. And I think in the last few days he was trying to make it happen.” 

Hoskins had 18 homers in 34 games entering Friday night, with six homers in the previous six games. He spent the weekend mostly flailing away and showed his frustration when he flung his bat after flying out to right in the fifth inning. 

“I think he got a little bit overanxious,” Hoskins said. “But every hitter goes through periods like that.”

Maikel Franco went 3 for 4 and drove in two runs for the Phillies, who led 3-2 when Henderson Alvarez left with no outs in the sixth inning after what was a successful return to the big leagues following a two-year injury absence. 

But Wendle later crushed a first-pitch mistake slider from Edubray Ramos into the right-field seats. It was the Avon Grove High School product’s second career home run. 

Alvarez gave up four runs and four hits with two walks and four strikeouts, using a fastball that topped out at 93. Besides back-to-back homers by Chad Pinder and Olson in the fourth, Alvarez was pleased with his performance. 

“I was a little nervous, I have to admit,” he said through an interpreter. “It was almost like my first time in the big leagues.”

It was a milestone in a difficult journey for the 2014 NL All-Star who threw a no-hitter for the Marlins in 2013. Multiple shoulder surgeries kept him out of the majors for two years. He was playing with the Long Island Ducks in the independent Atlantic League when the Phillies signed him to a minor league deal last month.  

“A lot of people didn’t believe in me. A lot of people thought that my career was over,” Alvarez said. “It’s great to be here and I’m grateful to the Phillies for giving me the opportunity to show not only them but everyone, that I’m still good, that I can still pitch. Even after my surgeries, I feel fine and I want to keep showing everyone I’m ready to go and can still pitch.”

Alvarez could get two more starts as he hopes to land a spot in the 2018 rotation. 

“That’s the point,” Alvarez said. “I’m working hard to at least give them a reason to think about me.”