Phillies

Instant Replay: Astros 13, Phillies 4

Instant Replay: Astros 13, Phillies 4

BOX SCORE

The Houston Astros are one of baseball's best teams and they played like it, hanging a 13-4 beating on the Phillies at Citizens Bank Park on Monday night.

The Astros hit two home runs against Phillies starter Vince Velasquez in the second inning. The game was delayed for one hour, 52 minutes in the top of the fourth inning and when it resumed the Astros rallied for five runs in that frame to roll to their 66th win. Only the Los Angeles Dodgers have more.

The Astros out-hit the Phillies, 18-10. And they were without star shortstop Carlos Correa (.320/20/67). He is on the disabled list with a torn ligament in his thumb. Also, All-Star outfielder George Springer (.311/27/66) left the game in the third inning with a sore quad muscle.

The Phillies are 5-5 since the All-Star break and 34-63 overall.

Starting pitching report
Velasquez was originally Houston property. He was selected by that club in the second round of the 2010 draft and pitched in the majors with Houston in 2015. He was traded to the Phillies as part of the package for Ken Giles in December of that year.

The rain limited Velasquez’s outing to three-plus innings. He gave up six hits, four runs and walked three. He is 2-6.

Houston's Brad Peacock gave up a run in three innings of work.

Bullpen report
Ricardo Pinto had a tough night. He came on after the rain delay and was tagged for seven hits and six runs in 1 1/3 inning. Three of the runs were unearned.

Joe Musgrove pitched three scoreless innings for the Astros and got the win.

At the plate
Tommy Joseph doubled home the Phillies' first run.

The Phils trailed 12-1 in the seventh inning when Nick Williams stroked a three-run triple. Williams has three triples and 18 RBIs in 72 at-bats with the big club.

Houston had eight extra-base hits.

Brian McCann and Alex Bregman hit back-to-back homers for the Astros in the second inning. Houston leads the majors with 165 homers. McCann has 22 homers in his career against the Phillies.

Jose Altuve had four hits for the Astros. He also had four hits Sunday in Baltimore. He has a 16-game hitting streak.

Houston has scored double-digit runs in 16 games this season.

Lineup stuff
Howie Kendrick did not start, although he did hit into the game-ending double play as a pinch hitter. He is expected to start on Tuesday night. Manager Pete Mackanin said the team planned to be cautious with Kendrick, who was activated Friday after being on the disabled list with a hamstring strain.

Kendrick remains a possibility to be traded before next week's deadline. Reliever Pat Neshek is the Phils' top trade chip and could be dealt at any time.

Up next
The series continues on Tuesday night. Nick Pivetta (3-5, 5.58) pitches against Charlie Morton (7-4, 4.18).

Phillies activate Wilson Ramos

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USA Today Images

Phillies activate Wilson Ramos

As the Phillies continue a three-week stretch against tough teams and multiple aces, they’ll welcome perhaps their biggest trade deadline addition to the lineup.

Wilson Ramos has completed his rehab assignment and was activated ahead of the Phillies' home game tonight against the Red Sox. He will bat sixth.

To accommodate Ramos on the 25-man roster, the Phillies optioned catcher Andrew Knapp to Triple A Lehigh Valley.

Ramos went 4 for 9 with three doubles in three rehab games with the Clearwater Threshers (High A). He caught 14 innings.

The Phillies acquired Ramos on July 31 from the Rays for a player to be named later or cash, but the All-Star catcher was still recovering from a hamstring injury suffered on July 14.

His bat will make the Phillies’ lineup better, there’s no question about it. Gabe Kapler will be replacing a bottom-of-the-order bat with a middle-of-the-order bat. He’ll be replacing Jorge Alfaro’s league-worst strikeout rate and .306 OBP with a catcher who can hit .300 — with power — and doesn’t whiff much.

Ramos is also steadier behind the plate, where Phillies catchers have struggled all season receiving. The Phillies have the second-most passed balls, second-most wild pitches and second-most stolen bases allowed in the National League.

Ramos has hit .297/.346/.488 with 14 homers and 14 doubles in 315 plate appearances. He’s played essentially two-thirds of the season to this point.

Ramos was also an All-Star two years ago, his last healthy, full season. He hit .307/.354/.496 with 22 HR and 80 RBI with the Nationals, who tried to reacquire him this summer to no avail.

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Playing the Red Sox tough is nice, but some wins would be nicer for struggling Phillies

Playing the Red Sox tough is nice, but some wins would be nicer for struggling Phillies

BOX SCORE

Coming out of spring training, the consensus opinion on the Phillies was that they’d pick up on the improvement they showed in the second half of last year’s 66-96 season and maybe push .500.

The thinking was that would be a nice step in the right direction for a team that had pushed its rebuild into field-goal range.

Then the season got going and the Phillies started winning, and contending, and by the first week of July they were in first place in the NL East.

They entered August in first place and that was meaningful because, in a sport where the long haul matters, four months is a significant chunk of time.

Becoming a contender a year before most envisioned changed the way these Phillies are viewed. Had they been plugging along hoping to finish the season at .500 and fuel a little optimism for the future, then Tuesday night’s loss to the Boston Red Sox might have been seen as a good thing, an oh-look-at-how-we-hung-with-the-big-boys moral victory (see first take).

But as a contender and a team with legitimate postseason hopes, the 2-1 loss stung and it stung even worse when the out-of-town scoreboard flashed the final score from Atlanta, where the Braves beat the Marlins, 10-6.

In two days, the Phillies have lost two games in the standings to the Braves and now trail them by two games in the NL East.

The Phillies are 2-5 in their last seven games and they have scored just 16 runs over that span. They have another one on tap against Boston on Wednesday night.

The Red Sox are the majors’ best team, on pace to win 115 games, and the Phillies have played them tough in three games over the last two weeks. Boston has won a pair of 2-1 games and the Phils have won a 3-1 contest. But the Phils are past the point where playing a good team tough makes them feel good. 

They need some hits.

They need some wins.

“We know that we can go toe to toe with this team,” manager Gabe Kapler said. “We showed that we could at Fenway Park. We did it tonight. We came out on the losing end because they played a better baseball game. But we're very confident that tomorrow we're going to be playing the better baseball game. We're looking forward to that.”

The Phillies’ offense ranks second to last in the majors with a .234 batting average and below average in many other important offensive categories. It ran into a good pitcher on top of his game Tuesday night and the results were not good. Boston’s Rick Porcello, a Cy Young winner in 2016, dazzled with seven innings of one-run ball. He walked none and had six 1-2-3 innings. Porcello gave up just two hits – that’s all the Phillies had – and struck out 10. The Phils struck out 13 times as a team – they’ve reached double digits in Ks 60 times this season – and walked just once.

That’ll lose you some ballgames.

“Porcello deserves a lot of credit,” Kapler said. “He was really awesome. Great job by him.”

The Phillies got a strong game from their starter, as well. Nick Pivetta delivered six innings of one-run ball, walked one and struck out six. He exited early for a pinch-hitter as Kapler tried to nudge the offense only to see Roman Quinn go down on a first-pitch fly ball in the bottom of the sixth.

All the scoring came via the long ball. Sandy Leon took Pivetta deep in the third and Rhys Hoskins got Porcello leading off the fifth. Hoskins, who was dropped from second to cleanup, was 1 for 28 before hitting his 23rd homer. The Phillies need his bat to come alive.

With no margin for error, the Phillies’ bullpen – neither bullpen, for that matter – could afford a mistake. Tommy Hunter made one with one out in the eighth and pinch-hitter Brock Holt clubbed it off the facing of the upper deck in right to break a 1-1 tie and propel the Sox to their 86th win.

Holt ambushed the first pitch.

“Yeah, it was a cutter,” Hunter said. “He got it. He hit it. I'll probably throw 16 of them again tomorrow. He got it. Tip your cap.”

The cutter is Hunter’s best pitch and Holt was looking for it.

“Yeah, coming off the bench, he's going to swing at the first pitch,” Hunter said. “I left it a little too far on the plate. I probably should have buried it in off the plate.”

The atmosphere in all three of the Phillies-Red Sox games over the last two weeks has been intense, almost playoff-like.

“It’s two pretty good teams going toe to toe,” Hunter said. “That’s the way you like it though. Throw blows and see who comes out on top.”

Vince Velasquez will try to help the Phillies come out on top Wednesday night.

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