Marcell Ozuna

Phillies open road trip with total team effort in win over Marlins

Phillies open road trip with total team effort in win over Marlins

BOX SCORE

MIAMI — When your organization has the worst record in baseball, you search every game to find something, anything, to build on for next year.

On Thursday night at Marlins Park, there might have been more than just one thing in a harrowing 3-2 win for the Phillies over the Miami Marlins (see observations).

But you would be hard-pressed to find anything more impressive than what left-hander Adam Morgan accomplished in the seventh inning, striking out the side against three impressive hitters.

After allowing a leadoff single to speedy Dee Gordon, Morgan, protecting a one-run lead, could have crumbled right there.

After all, this is his first year as a major-league reliever.

After all, Morgan had to find some way to get out Giancarlo Stanton, who leads the majors in homers; Christian Yelich, a Silver Slugger winner last year who has 16 homers this season; and Marcell Ozuna, a 2017 All-Star who has 31 homers and 103 RBIs.

As it turned out, Morgan got all of them to swing at air for strike three.

“I just stuck to my strengths,” said Morgan, who is 2-1 with a 4.46 ERA this season. “It feels good, but I have to keep going. I want to finish strong.”

Morgan, a 27-year-old native of Marietta, Georgia, was once one of the Phillies’ top prospects. But shoulder surgery to repair a torn rotator cuff caused him to miss the entire 2014 minor-league season.  

He made his major-league debut on June 21, 2015, as a starting pitcher. He had a promising rookie season, going 5-7 with a 4.48 ERA. But last year, he slipped to 2-11 with a 6.04 ERA, opening the door for his conversion to reliever.

Morgan, though, said part of the issue was just getting back to normal after his surgery.

“The more you throw after a surgery,” he said, “the more you use whatever body part was surgically repaired, the more loose it gets and the more it gets back to normal.”

Morgan wasn’t the only hero on Thursday as the Phillies improved to 50-83. Starter Ben Lively (2-5) earned the win by allowing just two runs in six innings. He also delighted in driving in two runs in an all-around performance.

“I feel if I swing hard enough and get a hold of it right, good things will happen,” said Lively, who is hitting .235 with one homer and four RBIs this season.

The Marlins stranded runners on second and third in the second inning and also left the bases loaded in the third, letting Lively off the hook.

The credit for working out of those jams apparently goes to catcher Cameron Rupp.

“I stuck with Rupp — he knows these guys better than I do,” said Lively, who broke a personal five-game losing streak. “I believed in him, and I believed in my pitches.”

This was the Phillies’ first one-run win since Aug. 9, but it almost didn’t happen because of some late-inning issues after Morgan departed.

The Marlins appeared to have tied the game in the eighth on a swinging bunt by Tomas Telis. Reliever Luis Garcia’s throw to first bounced into right field and allowed Derek Dietrich to score. However, Telis ran out of the baseline and was called out.

“You don’t see that very often, but it was the right call,” Marlins manager Don Mattingly said. “You’ve got to give the pitcher a place to throw the ball.”

Stanton was held in check all night, going 0 for 5. And he was involved in Miami’s failed ninth-inning rally against Phillies closer Hector Neris, who earned his 17th save the hard way.

Neris hit pinch-hitter Mike Aviles with his first pitch and allowed a single to Gordon. Stanton then hit a deep fly out to center, but Aviles did not tag up. Yelich hit a low liner to left that was grabbed on a diving play by Hyun Soo Kim for the second out.

After a walk to Ozuna loaded the bases, J.T. Realmuto was caught looking at a 2-2 fastball that was either low or right at the knees to end the game.

“Good thing Lively drove in two runs,” Phillies manager Pete Mackanin said. “We won, and we’re happy about that.”

'Tough day for the Phillies' as team swept by Marlins in doubleheader

'Tough day for the Phillies' as team swept by Marlins in doubleheader

GAME 1 BOX SCORE | GAME 2 BOX SCORE

Pete Mackanin opened his postgame news conference thusly on Tuesday night:

"Tough day for the Phillies," he said.

Tough day.

Tough night, too.

Heck, it's been a tough season.

A tough few seasons.

Baseball's worst team took it on the mandible twice Tuesday, losing both ends of a twi-night doubleheader to the Miami Marlins by scores of 12-8 and 7-4.

The Phils hit eight home runs in the twinbill — Tommy Joseph and Andres Blanco each went deep in both games and rookie Rhys Hoskins hit his sixth in 12 games — but the starting pitching did not keep them in either game.

"It's a shame," Mackanin said. "We hit all those home runs.

"We had some opportunities. Didn't capitalize. And the pitching was a problem."

Aaron Nola, pretty much the best starting pitcher in baseball for a 10-game stretch from June 22 to Aug. 12, struggled for the second straight outing in the first game. The right-hander gave up nine hits and seven runs over 6 1/3 innings. Six of the hits were for extra bases, including two home runs in the Marlins' decisive six-run seventh inning (see Instant Replay).

That inning started with the game tied, 3-3. Nola gave up a walk and a single to open the frame. He then surrendered a long, three-run, pinch-hit homer to Ichiro Suzuki as the Marlins broke the tie. Giancarlo Stanton hit his majors-high 46th homer two batters later, also off Nola. Marcell Ozuna added a two-run homer in the inning against Jesen Therrien.

Suzuki has two pinch-hit homers in his career, both against the Phillies. He crushed a fat, 3-1 sinker from Nola. The ball traveled 432 feet to center.

"I made some mistakes with guys on base and that hurt," Nola said. "Leadoff walks, getting behind in counts, getting balls up. That hurt me."

While the first game got away from the Phillies late, the nightcap got away from them early. Rookie Nick Pivetta needed 46 pitches to complete the first inning and was tagged for six runs in the first two innings. Five of those runs came on a pair of homers from Ozuna and Christian Yelich (see Instant Replay).

Pivetta's ERA swelled to 6.73 ERA. That's the second-highest ERA by a Phillie in his first 19 career starts. Only Hal Elliott, with a 7.45 ERA in his first 19 starts in 1929-30, had a higher mark.

"Pivetta didn’t have it," Mackanin said. "There's not a lot you can say about it.

"The Marlins have two hitters (Stanton and Ozuna) right near 100 RBIs and the rest of their lineup is good. Yelich is a good hitter and Dee Gordon, too. They're tough. If you don't make good pitches, you're going to get burned.

"You get back to Pivetta — young pitchers take their lumps and he took some lumps today. They don’t develop overnight."

Pivetta, 24, had spent the previous five days with Triple A Lehigh Valley. He was added to the roster because teams are allowed to carry 26 players for a doubleheader. He will head back to Lehigh Valley for at least another five days to complete a 10-day assignment.

"I just wasn't locating my pitches today," Pivetta said. "I got behind. They took advantage of it. That’s what happened today. It's difficult. I failed the team today, failed myself. I'll go back to Triple A, work hard and get back up here eventually.

"I'll have to learn from it. There's always stuff to learn with failure. The team stayed in it really well tonight. The bullpen picked me up."

In particular, Edubray Ramos pitched three scoreless innings in the second game and Yacksel Rios, the 13th rookie to debut with the Phillies this season, showed a nice, loose power arm in pitching an inning and two-thirds of scoreless relief.

Rookie Nick Williams had the most eye-popping of the Phillies' eight home runs, a 445-foot blast to dead center in the nightcap. He would have had a second homer if Yelich didn’t commit armed robbery at the center-field wall.

The combined duration of the two games was six hours, 28 minutes and the Phillies saw their majors-worst record sink to 45-79. Attendance was generously announced at 20,761. There were Eagles chants late in the second game and even a "Trust the Process" chant. The second game ended in surreal fashion, with rain building to a downpour, lightning dotting the sky and the Marlins running off the field after out-hitting the Phillies, 27-16, and taking two wins. They have won nine of their last 11 to even their record at 62-62.

Phillies-Marlins 5 things: Let's play 2; Pivetta will get the ball in Game 2

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Phillies-Marlins 5 things: Let's play 2; Pivetta will get the ball in Game 2

Phillies (45-77) vs. Marlins (60-62)
Game 1 - 4:05 p.m., Game 2 - TBD on CSN; streaming live on CSNPhilly.com and the NBC Sports App

Let's play two!

The Phillies come back from the West Coast to play a doubleheader with the Marlins tonight. The Phils send their ace to the mound in Game 1 and he'll try to keep the best slugger in baseball in the yard.

Here are five things to know for the games.

1. Slugging it out
Giancarlo Stanton hits baseballs very hard and very far. 

The major league leader in home runs (45) has been especially hot since July 5. The numbers are just insane. In a 39-game span, he has 24 homers and 47 RBIs with a slash line of .333/.453/.908. His OPS in that span is a ridiculous 1.361. At his current pace, the 27-year-old outfielder — who just cleared waivers ... wink, wink —  is projected to hit 60 homers.

For the Phillies, their own promising young slugger has emerged. After struggling during his first few MLB games at Citizens Bank Park, left fielder (?) Rhys Hoskins had a torrid road trip in his native California. After hitting his first big league homer in San Diego, Hoskins went off. In 25 at-bats, Hoskins went 8 for 25 (.320) with five homers and eight RBIs. 

He also showed off his impressive plate discipline, walking five times with just three strikeouts. It's a small sample size, but Hoskins' minor league skills are manifesting with the big club. 

2. Ace in the deck
Aaron Nola came back down to earth in his last appearance against the Giants, but he'd been stellar his previous 10 starts. His ERA dipped below three in San Francisco before the Giants tagged him for five runs over five innings. It ended a string of 10 straight starts going six innings and allowing two runs or less for Nola. 

Nola struggled with his command last Thursday, walking three batters. It was just the third time this season Nola has walked three or more hitters in 20 starts. Overall he's 9-8 with a 3.26 ERA, but the most promising thing about Nola is the feel he's getting for his changeup and recent ability he's shown to strike people out. He has 128 strikeouts in 124 1/3 innings.

The Marlins send righty Dan Straily to the mound. The 28-year-old has been Miami's most consistent starter this season. In 25 starts, he's 7-8 with a solid 3.80 ERA in 139 2/3 innings. 

Straily isn't going to wow you with his stuff. He throws a four-seam fastball in the low 90s which he'll throw more than half the time. He'll mostly throw a slider (27.1 percent) off his fastball but will mix in his changeup (15.4) and the occasional curveball (3.4)

3. Welcome back, Nick
Coming off an impressive 11-strikeout performance against the Padres, rookie Nick Pivetta was sent down to the minors. It wasn't a performance issue. The team just needed to create roster flexibility before deciding to put Odubel Herrera on the DL.

Pivetta clearly has big-league stuff, but he's struggled with consistency and hasn't been able to give the Phils length in his starts. Even in his last outing against the Padres, he lasted just five innings, throwing 96 pitches. Pivetta has flashed plenty but he's struggled with the long ball. He's given up 19 home runs in 18 starts. Stanton and Marcell Ozuna will be licking their chops after having to face Nola in Game 1.

Conversely, the Marlins' Game 2 starter has been excellent over his last four starts. Jose Urena is 2-1 with a 1.85 ERA in 24 1/3 innings. Opponents are hitting just .211 off the 25-year-old righty in that span. Urena started the season as the Marlins' long man out of the bullpen, but his last 20 appearances have been starts.

Urena will mostly throw a mid-90s four-seam fastball but isn't a strikeout pitcher (76 punch outs in 109 1/3 innings). He'll throw his slider and changeup at about the same rate. He has a curve in his arsenal but rarely throws it.

4. Player to watch
Phillies: Since it's a doubleheader, let's pick two players. Hoskins and Nola are the obvious choices, so let's go with Nick Williams and Jorge Alfaro

Both rookies have shined at times. Williams has tapered off a tad since a hot start, collecting just one extra-base hit in his last 42 at-bats. Alfaro had a solid road trip, going 5 for 16 with his first big league homer. The free-swinging catcher has yet to walk since his call up.

Marlins: It's Stanton. How could it be anyone else? He has a legitimate chance to be the first non-PED enhanced player to hit 60 home runs since Roger Maris hit 61 in 1961. As mentioned, he's also cleared waivers and could be part of a blockbuster trade by the end of this season or this winter. Could the Phillies be one of the teams bidding for his services? Stay tuned.

5. This and that
• Phillies prospect J.P. Crawford has played the last two games at third base. A shortstop by trade, Crawford has been scorching hot since returning from an injury and could get a look at the hot corner in September.

• The reason for Crawford's possible move to third base? Maikel Franco has been in a horrendous slump. Franco is hitting just .203 in August with just one homer and four RBIs. For the season he's hitting just .224 with a paltry .277 OBP.

• Lost in Stanton's laser show is the phenomenal play of outfielder Marcell Ozuna. Ozuna has a slash line of .306/.368/.539 with 27 homers and 93 RBIs.

• The Phillies and Marlins have split eight games this season. After four games at CBP this week, they'll meet for a four-game set in Miami and a three-game series back in Philly in September.