Tommy Joseph

Phillies safe from 100 losses after taking down Nationals

Phillies safe from 100 losses after taking down Nationals

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The 1961 Phillies are safe.

They remain the last Phillies team to reach triple-digit losses.

The 2017 Phillies avoided the ignominy of 100 losses as they rode a pair of big hits by Tommy Joseph and Cameron Rupp and the excellent bullpen work of Edubray Ramos, Adam Morgan, Luis Garcia and Hector Neris to a 4-1 win over the National League East champion Washington Nationals at Citizens Bank Park on Tuesday night (see observations).

Manager Pete Mackanin had recently downplayed avoiding 100 losses as a goal. His focus has been simply on seeing improvement from his young, rebuilding club.

But win No. 63 made Mackanin pretty happy.

"When I said 100 losses didn't matter — I lied," Mackanin said with a laugh. "I admit it. Great win."

The 1961 Phillies, under second-year skipper Gene Mauch, went 47-107.

Rupp had the game's biggest hit, a bullet of a two-run double over the centerfielder's head in the bottom of the third inning. It gave the Phillies and starter Jake Thompson a 3-1 lead. Rhys Hoskins padded the lead with a sacrifice fly in the seventh and the aforementioned quartet of relievers registered nine of 12 outs via the strikeout to close it out.

Rupp was around two years ago when the 2015 Phillies lost 99 games. With four more games left before it's time to go home for the winter, Rupp hopes Tuesday night's win is not this team's last.

"I've already lost 99 one time," said the catcher, who turns 29 on Thursday. "Let's win a couple more."

Not long ago, the Phillies were on a clear path to triple-digit losses. An influx of young talent, led by Hoskins and Nick Williams, and much improved bullpen work have helped the Phillies go 34-37 after the All-Star break, a major improvement after they were 29 games under .500 before the break.

"It's one of those things we know," Rupp said of the specter of 100 losses. "But we come out every day and try to let the results show. There's been a lot of games that we've been right in and the ball hasn't rolled our way, a lot of one-run and two-run losses. One big hit here and there and we flip our record in one-run games. It's not that we’re far away. We've got the players here. We just have to get that big hit."

The Phillies are 21-36 in one-run games.

Rupp's double in the third inning came against Washington starter Gio Gonzalez, who did not pitch up to his 2.68 ERA, which was third best in the NL entering the game. Mackanin said he started Rupp because he had good numbers against the lefty Gonzalez — five hits, including two doubles, in 14 career at-bats.

The Phillies played good defense in this game, particularly J.P. Crawford at third base. He started a big double play behind Thompson in the first inning and later made a diving snare of a 108-mph liner off the bat of Ryan Zimmerman. But nothing made Mackanin happier than seeing Joseph and Rupp get their big hits in the third inning.

Joseph and Rupp have lost playing time in recent weeks as management looks at young players. It's unclear where both players fit into the team's future. It's possible both could be with other clubs next season.

But right now, they are Phillies, and their heads are high.

"I was very happy for both of those guys," Mackanin said. "The way they've handled the whole situation — it's a testament to their professionalism."

Rupp has lost time to rookie Jorge Alfaro in recent weeks. Joseph has lost it to Hoskins.

"It's one of those things where when I get my chance, I've got to perform," Rupp said. "It doesn't matter the situation. It doesn't matter who's in there. You get your chance, you need to show them what you can do. It's the situation that we're in. It's no secret when we get our chance, we have to perform."

Rupp and Joseph got their chance Tuesday night.

They performed.

The 1961 Phillies are safe for at least another year.

Phillies-Nationals observations: Big 3rd inning in 4-1 win

Phillies-Nationals observations: Big 3rd inning in 4-1 win

BOX SCORE

Tommy Joseph and Cameron Rupp keyed a three-run third inning and the bullpen pitched well in lifting the Phillies to a 4-1 win over the Washington Nationals at Citizens Bank Park on Tuesday night.

The win was the lowly Phillies' 63rd against 95 losses and it ensured that the team will not reach the 100-defeat mark. The Phils have not lost 100 games in a season since 1961. Nonetheless, the Phils entered the game tied with San Francisco for having the game's worst record.
 
Joseph and Rupp have each lost playing time recently. Joseph had an RBI single in the third and Rupp scorched a two-run, two-out double over the centerfielder's head.

• Jake Thompson pitched five innings of one-run ball. He pitched 46 1/3 innings in the majors this season and had a 3.88 ERA. For his career, he is at 100 big-league innings. His ERA is 4.86.

• Washington starter Gio Gonzalez entered the game with the third-best ERA in the National League at 2.68. He allowed five hits and three runs over five innings. He struck out seven but walked five. Two of those walks became runs. Gonzalez will need to be better when the postseason starts next week.

• Washington star Bryce Harper returned to the lineup for the first time since suffering a hyperextended left knee on Aug. 12. He was hitless with a walk in three at-bats. Harper is basically trying to get his timing back for the postseason.

• Pitch efficiency was seriously lacking early in the game as Thompson and Gonzalez combined to throw 96 pitches in the first two innings. Thompson threw 29 strikes and 18 balls in the first two innings. Gonzalez threw 25 strikes and 24 balls in the first two innings and reached 100 pitches with one out in the fifth inning.

• J.P. Crawford continued to get work at third base. His actions and first-step quickness at the position are excellent. He made a quick-reaction diving stab on a liner from Ryan Zimmerman in the sixth inning. That ball came off Zimmerman's bat at 108 mph.

• Edubray Ramos, Adam Morgan, Luis Garcia and Hector Neris combined on four shutout innings — and nine strikeouts — out of the bullpen. Morgan has given up just two runs in his last 25 innings. Neris has converted 19 straight save chances.

• Odubel Herrera's first two at-bats against Gonzalez were not pretty. He struck out swinging at a pitch up and out of the strike zone in the second inning and popped weakly to short with men on base in the fourth. He got out in front of a Gonzalez curveball and popped to center in the fifth. In the eighth, he fanned against reliever Austin Adams.

• Smart play by Freddy Galvis taking an extra base on Nats first baseman Zimmerman on a groundout in the seventh. Zimmerman has trouble throwing the ball, hence his position move from third base to first. Galvis knew this, alertly took advantage of it and it resulted in a run on a sacrifice fly by Rhys Hoskins.

• Hoskins entered the game in an 0-for-10 funk (5 for 37 overall) and struck out on curveballs from Gonzalez in his first two at-bats. He rebounded to draw a walk in the fifth and had an important sacrifice fly in the seventh.

• Mark Leiter Jr. (3-6, 4.69) pitches against Washington's Tanner Roark (13-10, 4.41) in the series finale on Wednesday night.

Today's Lineup: Tommy Joseph starts for first time since Wednesday

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CSN

Today's Lineup: Tommy Joseph starts for first time since Wednesday

The juggling of Rhys Hoskins and Tommy Joseph at first base will continue today in Atlanta.

After only appearing as a pinch-hitter in last night's loss to the Braves, Joseph will draw back into the lineup at first for the Phillies in today's series finale. He'll bat fifth, right behind Hoskins, who's in the clean-up spot for manager Pete Mackanin.

With Hoskins, a natural first baseman who's been adjusting to left field, tearing up the scene, questions are aplenty over what the Phils plan to do at the position. Hoskins isn't going anywhere, obviously, so the questions center around Joseph. Any at-bats he gets this last week are important for his audition.

Joseph is hitting .240 on the season, but he does have 22 homers and 68 RBIs on the season.

Today marks Joseph's first start since Wednesday's win over the Dodgers. He appeared as a pinch-hitter Thursday and last night, but he did not play at all Friday.

Hoskins is back in left this afternoon. He's up to 18 homers and 41 RBIs on his short MLB season. He did contribute an RBI double in last night's loss.

J.P. Crawford, who's batting seventh, moves back to his natural shortstop spot today after playing second last night for Cesar Hernandez. Freddy Galvis will have the afternoon off. Crawford has a .245 average and 6 RBIs in 17 games with the big club.

Odubel Herrera has the afternoon off, as well.

Both teams' full lineups can be found below:

Phillies
1. Cesar Hernandez, 2B
2. Aaron Altherr, CF
3. Nick Williams, RF
4. Rhys Hoskins, LF
5. Tommy Joseph. !B
6. Maikel Franco, 3B
7. J.P. Crawford, SS
8. Jorge Alfaro, C
9. Nick, Pivetta, SP

Braves
1. Ender Inciarte, CF
2. Johan Camargo, 2B
3. Freddie Freeman, 1B
4. Nick Markakis, RF
5. Kurt Suzuki, C
6. Rio Ruiz, 3B
7. Dansby Swanson, CF
8. Jace Pederson, LF
9. Luiz Gohara, SP