Phillies

Instant Replay: Phillies 7, Giants 3

073013_phillies.jpg

Instant Replay: Phillies 7, Giants 3

BOX SCORE

A return to their home ballpark was just what the Phillies needed as they mercifully ended the season-worst eight-game losing streak with a 7-3 victory over the San Francisco Giants on Tuesday night at Citizens Bank Park.

Two-run homers from Carlos Ruiz and Michael Young along with a solid pitching outing from John Lannan helped the Phillies snap the skid and win their first game since July 19.

With the victory, the Phillies improved to 50-56 and remain 11½ games behind the Atlanta Braves in the NL East.

Starting pitching report
Lannan ended on an up note after struggling in his last outing in St. Louis last week. In seven innings, the lefty allowed three runs on seven hits and a pair of walks. Lannan struck out two hitters and produced 11 ground-ball outs.

The win sets Lannan’s record at 3-4 with a 4.02 ERA.

Giants lefty Barry Zito struggled with his command throughout his 3 1/3 innings, allowing four runs on five hits and a pair of walks. Zito also allowed a homer and hit Kevin Frandsen on an 0-2 pitch.

Zito’s ERA on the road this season is 9.97.

Bullpen report
Lefty Antonio Bastardo faced four hitters in a scoreless eighth inning before turning the game over to Justin De Fratus in the ninth.

De Fratus faced four hitters in the ninth to close it out in a non-save situation.

At the plate
Ruiz hit his first home run of the season. His last homer came on Sept. 25 of last season when he hit a three-run shot in a win over the Nationals. Michael Young belted his eighth homer of the season.

Ruiz’s homer was the first for a Phillie since July 20.

Michael Young went 2 for 3 with a walk to boost his batting average to .280. Delmon Young also had a pair of hits to go with an RBI, and John Mayberry Jr. also picked up a pair of RBIs with a single in the first inning and a double in the seventh.

The Giants scored a run in the first, added one to tie the game in the third and scored again in the seventh. First baseman Brett Pill picked up a pair of hits and Pablo Sandoval had two of the Giants’ RBIs.

Put him in the book
Prospect Cody Asche made his major-league debut with a pinch-hitting appearance with two outs in the seventh inning. Asche, who was called up from Triple A Lehigh Valley on Tuesday (see story), popped out to second base on a 2-0 pitch.

Stuck at home
For the first time this season, Darin Ruf failed to reach base safely. He had reached base in all 17 games he played this year and the final nine games of the 2012 season. In 30 career big-league games, Ruf has failed to reach base safely in just four games.

Up next
The Phillies and Giants return to action on Wednesday night when Kyle Kendrick (9-7, 3.96) takes on right-hander Chad Gaudin (4-2, 2.77). Kendrick is 2-1 with a 2.81 ERA in six career appearances against the Giants. He last faced them on May 7 when he scattered six hits and had six strikeouts without a walk in a 6-2 victory.

Gaudin has never started a game against the Phillies, but he has nine appearances in relief in his 11 years in the big leagues. In 13 1/3 innings, Gaudin has allowed three runs and 10 hits with 11 strikeouts against the Phillies.

Trades, a pennant race and maybe a big award await Phillies in 2nd half

Trades, a pennant race and maybe a big award await Phillies in 2nd half

Are you ready for a pennant race, Phillies fans?

Of course, you are.

It has been too long.

The Phillies get back to work Friday night and for the first time since 2011 find themselves in legitimate position to make a run at a postseason berth. They lead the National League East by a half-game over the Atlanta Braves and 5½ over the Washington Nationals.

As the players return to town for a weekend series against the San Diego Padres, let’s look ahead at a few of the important storylines that will unfold as the pennant race begins.

The Manny hangover

Fans are disappointed that the team did not land slugging infielder Manny Machado in a trade. The front office has to be disappointed. But the disappointment cannot seep into the clubhouse. This mostly young Phillies team has displayed resilience and toughness all season and that must continue as the intensity of the games increases.

Machado is still a great long-term fit for this team at shortstop for a while, then over to third base and ultimately at first base as he finishes a long contract. The Phillies had two windows to get him. One has closed. But one remains open as Machado will test the free-agent market in the offseason. The Phils were reluctant to empty their prospect vault for him, but you know they will write a big check this winter.

Machado might end up loving Los Angeles and look to stay there. But, for now, he looks like just a short-term fit with the Dodgers, who lost shortstop Corey Seager to injury and are desperate to win a World Series with a ripe core. Machado is from Miami. He has told friends that he wants to play on the East Coast with a team that has spring training in Florida. He has “a thing” for the Yankees so they will be a team to watch. But the Phillies fill a lot of his criteria, too, and winning the division, or at least making the postseason, will help make Philadelphia attractive to Machado. The money will be huge wherever the guy goes. He wants to win and though he’s focused on winning with the Dodgers, he’s watching what happens the rest of season in other potential destinations.

What's plan B?

In pursuing Machado, the Phillies were trying to upgrade their offense. Yes, the team sees pitches, grinds out at-bats and walks, but the overall offense is below average. The team batting average is just .236 and the slugging percentage .390, both in the bottom third in the majors. The lack of offense hurt the Phils on their recent 11-game road trip. They surely could have finished better than 6-5 if they hadn’t averaged under three runs over the final 10 games and been shut out twice.

Improving the offense is a must. Shortstop might be the spot to do it as the pursuit of Machado confirmed. Minnesota’s Eduardo Escobar has been mentioned as a trade target and that would make sense. Landing a shortstop could improve the bench as Scott Kingery could be used in the super-utility role that was envisioned for him at the start of the season.

Message to Maikel

Maikel Franco sat. He was dropped to eighth in the batting order and that can be humiliating for a player no matter how much importance is placed on the spot in a carefully constructed lineup.

Whether the message was intentional or not, Franco seems to have gotten it. He is in the midst of his most productive stretch of the season, hitting .352 with a 1.106 OPS in 22 games since sitting out on June 22 in favor of utility man Jesmuel Valentin. Now, the possibility exists that Franco has, at least for now, played himself out of trade-bait status. If he continues to produce, he could be better than any of the third basemen on the trade market that are viewed as upgrades.

It’s still difficult to see Franco being part of this front office’s long-term plan, but in the short term he might be the best option.

Other ways to improve

Unable to improve the offense with the addition of Machado, the Phils could look for an overall upgrade by improving their run prevention. Bullpen is clearly an area the team would like to address with the addition of a top arm. The team pursued Zach Britton, the Orioles’ lefty closer, in a Machado package and will stay on him. Brad Hand was on the Phils’ radar before he was dealt to Cleveland. Pittsburgh’s Felipe Vazquez, another lefty, and Mets closer Jeurys Familia could also help shorten games.

Yet another way to help the bullpen would be to acquire Toronto’s J.A. Happ in a trade. That could conceivably turn Vince Velasquez or Nick Pivetta into a power-armed bullpen piece.

The importance of Jake

With an average age of 26 years and 7 months, the Phillies are the youngest team in the majors. They have arrived in a pennant race a year before most expected, but that does not mitigate the need to capitalize on that unexpected position. All of this makes it imperative that Jake Arrieta continue to produce quality starts. He has allowed just four earned runs over 19 innings in his last three starts and the Phils have won all three.

Arrieta is 32. He has pitched in pennant races and won a World Series and a Cy Young Award. Aaron Nola has emerged as the ace of the Phillies’ staff, but Arrieta’s experience and presence will be vital in the second half. Pennant races have a different intensity that much of this team has never felt. Arrieta’s been-there-done-that experience will be valuable. Carlos Santana’s, too.

From the day he arrived, Arrieta has said he wants to lead and is comfortable doing that. Fittingly, he gets the ball Friday night and the game will be a tone-setter.

Awards race

The Phillies will give Nola a few extra days of rest coming out of the All-Star break — he won’t face the Padres this weekend — and that is smart given his importance to the team’s postseason chances. When he was drafted No. 7 overall out of LSU in 2014, Nola was projected to be a quick-riser who could eventually be a quality mid-rotation starter. He has become so much more and has a legitimate chance to become the Phillies’ first Cy Young Award winner since Roy Halladay in 2010. With 2½ months to go, Nola is right there in the conversation with Jacob deGrom and Max Scherzer, who has won the last two NL Cy Young Awards.

Nola is tied for the NL lead with 12 wins and is second in ERA (2.30), innings (129), quality starts (16) and pitchers WAR (5.9). He has allowed the fewest home runs per nine innings (0.42). He is third in opponent batting average (.199) and WHIP (0.98) and fourth in strikeouts (131).

Seranthony Dominguez, Gabe Kapler’s favorite bullpen kill shot, is on his way to garnering a serious look for NL Rookie of the Year, and Kapler himself is in position to get votes for NL Manager of the Year. The Phils won just 66 games last season. They are on pace for 90 under the first-year manager.

More on the Phillies

The making of 'World Champions: The Story of the '08 Phillies'

ap-brad-lidge-carlos-ruiz.jpg
AP Images

The making of 'World Champions: The Story of the '08 Phillies'

On this special edition of At The Yard, Jim Salisbury chats with Sean Kane and Brian Brennan, the makers of "World Champions: The Story of the '08 Phillies." They discuss how the documentary was put together, deciding which parts to keep and take out and their overall memories from that magical season.

1:30 - How did this documentary get started?
4:00 - Difficult decisions made producing the documentary.
7:30 - Favorite interviews conducted.
14:00 - Chase Utley's parade speech.
20:00 - Importance of the 2007 season leading up to 2008.
26:00 - Final out of the World Series.
30:30 - Favorite stories.

Subscribe and rate At The Yard: Apple Podcasts / Google Play / Spotify / Stitcher / Art19