Walter Villa

In successful weekend in Miami, Phillies show potential against Marlins

In successful weekend in Miami, Phillies show potential against Marlins

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MIAMI — The Phillies have the worst record in baseball at 52-84. But after taking three out of four games from the playoff-contending Miami Marlins this weekend, it’s possible the Phillies aren’t that bad.

The Phillies continued to show signs of life Sunday, beating Miami, 3-1, at Marlins Park on a two-out, two-run, single by Nick Williams in the top of the 12th inning (see observations).

As for the big picture …

“We’ve had injuries like everybody else,” Phillies manager Pete Mackanin said. “We’ve had guys coming and going — I think 16 guys who have made their (major-league) debut.

“I feel like this team has a lot of potential.”

To Mackanin’s point, the Phillies are tied for eighth in the majors in fielding percentage, and the organization’s vision no doubt has that ranking improving in the near future with the addition of athletic infield prospects such as J.P. Crawford and Scott Kingery.

True, the Phillies are 24th in the majors in ERA (4.72) and 28th in runs scored. The pitching deficiencies have a lot to do with injuries to Jerad Eickhoff and Vince Velasquez, a pair of starters the Phillies hope to have ready for 2018.

Aaron Nola leads the staff with 10 wins, and this weekend saw good starts from Ben Lively, Nick Pivetta and Jake Thompson, the latter of whom struck out a career high seven batters in a one-run, six-inning performance Sunday.

Mark Leiter Jr., who pitches Monday against the Mets in New York, has been impressive so far with a 3.88 ERA.

And here’s the thing: All seven of the aforementioned pitchers are 26 or younger.

The bullpen, meanwhile, looked great Sunday, as four pitchers combined to limit Miami to one hit and no runs over six innings. Hector Neris got his 19th save, but Juan Nicasio, Luis Garcia and Adam Morgan also contributed out of the 'pen.

Thompson, who has bounced four times this year between the Phillies and Triple A Lehigh Valley, was grateful things went his way Sunday.

“It’s nice to have one of those days after the things I’ve gone through this year,” Thompson said. “It makes me feel good.”

As for the offense, it struggled considerably Sunday when Rhys Hoskins sat out with a bruised right hand. But if Hoskins and Williams continue to develop, perhaps the Phillies can rise from out of the NL East basement next year.

Williams, who is batting .271, now has 35 RBIs since making his major-league debut June 30, tops among NL rookies during that span.

But he had stranded the bases loaded with one out in the fifth inning Sunday and had left runners on the corners with one out in the 10th, unable to get even a sacrifice fly on either occasion.

Finally, with two outs in the top of the 12th, Williams pulled his two-run single to right.

“It’s weird,” Williams said. “I’ve been getting out like crazy (lately). It’s not like I was striking out. I’ve just been hitting balls right at people.”

As long as good contact is being made, though, hits will eventually fall, and that’s what the Phillies are hoping for more of in the future.

Perhaps it’s not entirely crazy to think the Phillies could make a Marlins-type run at .500 in 2018. Miami’s pitching is not much better than Philadelphia’s, ranking 21st in the majors with a 4.63 ERA.

The Marlins are 15th in runs scored and 16th in homers. The Phillies are 27th in homers.

So, to make a significant stride, the Phillies would have to get healthy, improve their pitching and hope that Hoskins and Williams become their version of Miami’s Giancarlo Stanton and Marcell Ozuna.

Morgan (3-1), who got the win Sunday with three hitless and scoreless innings, is bullish on the Phillies’ future. And the same can be said about Thompson.

“It’s good to have something to feel good about as we go into the offseason,” Thompson said. “That’s huge.

“Hopefully, we can finish the season strong.”

Phillies-Marlins observations: Nick Williams delivers win in extras

Phillies-Marlins observations: Nick Williams delivers win in extras

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MIAMI — Nick Williams came through just in time.

The rookie stroked a two-run single to right in the top of the 12th inning to lead the Phillies to a 3-1 win over the Miami Marlins on Sunday afternoon at Marlins Park.

Williams, who had failed to get a runner home from third base with one out in the fifth inning and again in the 10th, found redemption against Marlins reliever Junichi Tazawa (3-4).

The Phillies (52-84) took three out of four games from the Marlins (67-69).

• Reliever Adam Morgan (3-1) was brilliant with three scoreless innings. He allowed no hits and just one walk, a splendid encore to his work earlier this weekend when he pitched one scoreless inning.

Hector Neris got the save, his 19th.

• The Phillies got a stellar start from 23-year-old Jake Thompson.

Called up from Triple A Lehigh Valley in time to make his 14th career start, Thompson struck out a career-high seven batters in six innings. He allowed three hits and no walks but took a no-decision.

• With no Rhys Hoskins (bruised hand) in the lineup, the Phillies struggled to score. The middle of the lineup — where Hoskins normally resides — was especially poor … until the 12th.

Still, Williams, in the three-hole, went 1 for 5 with a strikeout, stranding five runners.

Clean-up man Tommy Joseph went 0 for 5 with two strikeouts, stranding six.

Williams had opportunities to drive in runs in both the fifth and 10th innings, but he failed both times. Joseph followed him with an inning-ending out in both of those frames.  

• Cameron Perkins nearly won the game for the Phillies in the ninth. With a runner on first and two outs, his long drive to dead center was run down by Christian Yelich.

• The Phillies had a forgettable eighth inning as all three of their batters — Freddy Galvis, Williams and Joseph — struck out against reliever Kyle Barraclough.

• From the hole at shortstop, Galvis threw out Marcell Ozuna at first on a bang-bang-bang play in the seventh.

That’s three “bangs” because the ball tipped off the glove of third baseman Maikel Franco, was caught by Galvis and then dug out of the dirt at first by Joseph. Ozuna was originally called safe, but that ruling was overturned on video review.

• The Phillies opened the scoring with one run in the fifth, but the Phillies really should have cashed in a bit better.

The Phillies produced four singles, making Marlins starter Jose Urena throw 27 pitches. Cesar Hernandez got the RBI on an opposite-field single, but Williams (lineout) and Joseph (groundout) both stranded the bases loaded.

• Miami tied the score in the bottom of the fifth due to an unfortunate circumstance. Miami’s Brian Anderson, playing his first weekend of Major League Baseball, pulled a leadoff double down the third-base line, advanced to third on an A.J. Ellis groundout and scored on a wild pitch in the dirt.

Certainly, Thompson has to wear that wild pitch, which occurred on an 84-mph breaking ball away. But it was also not catcher Jorge Alfaro’s finest moment as he failed to block that pitch and save his pitcher.

Aaron Nola's struggles against Marlins continue as Phillies suffer painful, wild loss

Aaron Nola's struggles against Marlins continue as Phillies suffer painful, wild loss

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MIAMI — A Phillies win, which nearly happened, would not have felt right.

Not on this night.

Not on a night in which centerfielder Pedro Florimon, who has become somewhat of a manager Pete Mackanin favorite, suffered a dislocated right ankle that was gruesome to watch (see story).

Not on a night in which Rhys Hoskins, the 24-year-old who has quickly become the face of the franchise, nearly broke his right hand after getting hit by a 97-mph fastball.

Oh, by the way, the Phillies lost, 10-9, after rallying from a 10-4 deficit (see observations). But the loss was almost an afterthought given the injuries.

Fortunately for the Phillies, x-rays on Hoskins’ right hand were negative, and he is day to day.

“It was (97 mph) to my hand, so there was some pain,” said Hoskins, who was hit on the palm of his hand, above his wrist, by Marlins reliever Brian Ellington. “We’ll see tomorrow how it feels.”

Hoskins was hit in the top of the seventh and was removed in the bottom of the frame on a double-switch, a move he did not try to fight.

“Once I saw the double switch, it was only natural,” Hoskins said. “I wasn’t too surprised.”

Florimon beat out an infield hit to the hole at shortstop in the second inning, extending his hitting streak to seven games and improving his batting average to .348. But he got hurt as he stepped on the bag and was in obvious pain.

The game was delayed for about 15 minutes, as Florimon had to be carried onto a cart and taken off the field.

“He’s most likely done for the year,” Mackanin said.

The silver lining for the Phillies is the fact Odubel Herrera is pretty much ready to return from his hamstring injury.

But that is of little consolation to Florimon, who had carved out a niche for himself with the Phillies as a versatile player. In fact, it was just Friday when Mackanin was raving about him.

“I like him as a centerfielder. I like him at shortstop. He’s a good defensive player,” Mackanin said of Florimon. “He’s very athletic. He’s sure-handed. He has good instincts. He’s a switch-hitter with occasional pop. … He’d be a good guy to keep around.”   

Given the calamities of the night, the fact that Aaron Nola hasn’t been able to beat the Marlins this year — or get anywhere close — was pretty far down the list of issues.

Nola (10-10) allowed 10 hits and six runs in five innings.

In three starts against the Marlins this year, Nola is 0-3 with a 10.85 ERA.

“I left balls over the plate again on them, and they’re pretty good,” Nola said. “I think I’ve got them one more time. I will try to make some adjustments.”

And on a night in which so many things went wrong, credit the Phillies' offense for never giving up.

Hoskins and Tommy Joseph each hit two-run homers. It was Hoskins’ 12th homer of the season, ending a five-game drought. For Joseph, it was his team-high 20th of the season, one short of his career high.

Nick Williams added a three-run triple. Oddly, he has three of his four triples this season here at Marlins Park.

But, perhaps, that’s not so odd at all.

Not on this night.

“This,” Mackanin said correctly, “was a wild one.”