Odubel Herrera willing to risk getting drilled (and maybe injured) to continue flipping his bat

Odubel Herrera willing to risk getting drilled (and maybe injured) to continue flipping his bat

Maybe this was the game that will get Odubel Herrera going.

"Hopefully it's going to start something good," the Phillies centerfielder said after hitting the ball hard several times in a 5-3 win over the San Francisco Giants on Saturday (see game story).

Herrera doubled twice and smoked a long fly ball out to center field. He did not play Friday night — the Phillies' first game in June — after hitting .183 (20 for 109) with a .190 on-base percentage and a .257 slugging percentage in May.

The Phillies tied Saturday's game at 1-1 on a homer by Tommy Joseph in the sixth. They took the lead on a hit by Freddy Galvis in the seventh and tagged on three more on a booming bases-loaded double by Herrera. The three RBIs matched Herrera's total from his previous 23 games.

"I keep making adjustments," said Herrera, who is still looking for consistency.

What Herrera is not looking for is a way to punctuate occasions of good contact at the plate. His big-air bat flip is in mid-season form. The hang time would make Ray Guy proud. (Kids, look him up.)

Herrera flipped his bat on a long fly out in the first inning. He did it again — emphatically — on his three-run double to center in the seventh.

"The best!" Herrera said with a big smile when asked where the bat flip ranked on his personal list.

Herrera's three-run double came against Giants reliever Hunter Strickland, who was in the news earlier in the week for plunking and brawling with Washington's Bryce Harper. The seeds of that incident were planted in 2014 when Harper took Strickland deep twice in the playoffs and did a little too much admiring of his work for Strickland's liking.

Herrera did not realize that Strickland was the same guy that hit Harper until he got back to the dugout and was told by Andres Blanco.

"I guess he was looking out for me," Herrera said of Blanco.

Herrera said his bat flips are not meant to show up the pitcher.

"I’m sure that some pitchers may find it offensive, but I’m not trying to offend anyone," he said with the assistance of Diego Ettedgui, the team's Spanish language interpreter. "That’s just the way I am and that’s the way I’m going to play."

Someday, Herrera may run into a pitcher that not only finds his antics offensive but who also does something about it, as well.

Fastball, meet ribs.

That's just the reality of it all.

So, in a way, Herrera risks injury when he flips the bat.

But he's unafraid of that. And he's going to continue to do it.

"Of course, it worries me a little bit," he said. "I don’t want to get drilled.

"But I’m not going to change the way I play. If I get hit, I’m just going to have to rub it."

Phillies shake up lineup in major way, but Jean Segura still in it

Phillies shake up lineup in major way, but Jean Segura still in it

A day after shortstop Jean Segura again failed to hustle, manager Gabe Kapler has left him in the lineup for tonight’s series finale in Washington. 

Segura will start at shortstop and bat fifth. 

This comes after many fans and analysts called for Kapler to bench Segura after his latest failure to hustle. Many thought it could send a message and possibly help Kapler regain control of the clubhouse he might have lost. 

To open last night’s game, Segura failed to run hard out of the box after hitting a flare to left-center. The ball dropped in and Segura could have easily been on second base, but settled for a single. This is not the first time Segura hasn’t shown maximum hustle. There was, of course, the at-bat earlier this season, where he seemed to stumble out of the box and didn’t get down the first-base line. That’s the play when Andrew McCutchen was lost for the year, but it seems overly harsh to blame Segura for the injury. 

After last night’s loss, Kapler said he talked to Segura and Segura understood he needs to bust it more. Here’s what Kapler said last night: 

I talked to him about that. He knows he has to run hard out of the box. He knows he has to be on second base. It’s just unacceptable. Simple as that.

The other most notable part of tonight’s lineup is at the top, where Kapler has Bryce Harper leading off, followed by Rhys Hoskins in the two-hole, a likely attempt to jump-start a recently stagnant offense: 

1. Bryce Harper, RF 
2. Rhys Hoskins, 1B
3. Jay Bruce, LF
4. J.T. Realmuto, C
5. Jean Segura, SS
6. Scott Kingery, CF
7. Cesar Hernandez, 2B
8. Maikel Franco, 3B
9. Nick Pivetta, P 

In his career as a leadoff hitter, Harper has hit .273 (110 at-bats) with 8 homers, 19 RBIs and 13 walks. Harper has spent most of his time with the Phillies in the three-hole. 

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Nationals 2, Phillies 0: Max Scherzer outduels Jake Arrieta as Phillies lose nightcap of doubleheader

Nationals 2, Phillies 0: Max Scherzer outduels Jake Arrieta as Phillies lose nightcap of doubleheader

Updated: 11:19 p.m.


Two runs in 18 innings didn’t cut it for the Phillies Wednesday in Washington, D.C. 

The Phils fell to the Nationals in the second game of their doubleheader, 2-0. They lost in the afternoon, 6-2 (see observations)

Brian Dozier crushed a 3-2 sinker from Jake Arrieta that split the plate over the left-field wall in the second inning to give the Nationals the lead. The only other hit Arrieta allowed in his six innings was a fourth-inning single by Adam Eaton.

Victor Robles added an insurance run in the eighth inning with a homer off Pat Neshek.

Max Scherzer outdueled Arrieta in a contest between former Cy Young Award winners, throwing seven scoreless innings and recording 10 strikeouts.

The Phillies are 39-34, four games behind the Braves in the NL East. 

Quite a sight 

Scherzer started despite breaking his nose in batting practice Tuesday, when he bunted a foul ball against his face.

He took the mound looking like he’d already been through a fight or two, with a dark bruise encircling his right eye. 

Sluggish start

Jean Segura led off with a single that could have been a double had he run hard out of the box. Juan Soto dove and failed to catch Segura’s bloop to shallow left field, but Segura settled for a single despite the ball ending up behind Soto. Segura was stranded on third base when Scherzer struck out Rhys Hoskins looking on a 3-2 breaking ball to end the inning.

It was a missed opportunity for the Phillies’ offense against Scherzer, who’s allowed 10 first-inning runs in 16 starts this season and pitched like the three-time Cy Young Award winner he is once he escaped the early trouble. 

Arrieta’s night 

Outside of his lapse to Dozier, Arrieta was excellent. 

He induced just one swinging strike on 48 sinkers but spotted the pitch well down in the zone. Ten of Arrieta’s 18 outs came via the ground ball. 

Manager Gabe Kapler elected to pinch-hit for Arrieta in the top of the seventh, sending J.T. Realmuto to the plate with two outs and Cesar Hernandez on second base. Realmuto struck out swinging.

Tip of the cap 

Like Arrieta, Scherzer pitched very, very well. His electric stuff helped him power through the Phillies’ best threat of the night.

He worked around Hernandez’s leadoff double in the seventh by getting Brad Miller to swing through a 97.5 mph, 3-2 fastball, striking out Andrew Knapp on a 96.7 fastball and baffling Realmuto with a wipeout slider on his 117th and final pitch of the night. 

A nightmare return

Neshek's first game back from the injured list couldn't have gone much worse. After serving up a one-out home run to Robles, Neshek got Kurt Suzuki to fly out to left field. He then grimaced following a 1-0 sinker to Trea Turner that missed outside. Neshek left the game with a limp.

Kapler told reporters after the game that Neshek has a left hamstring strain and will "likely" go on the IL again.

Seeing the ball well … just not hitting it 

Bryce Harper was hitless in the doubleheader, though he did walk four times. He saw 16 pitches in three plate appearances against Scherzer. 

Harper’s struggles against the fastball continued as he swung through or fouled off four heaters in the heart of the zone. 

Still no sign of Franco 

Maikel Franco started neither game of the doubleheader. Scott Kingery played third base in the afternoon, Miller in the nightcap. In June, Franco is hitting .143 (4 for 28). His last multi-hit game was on May 13, and it appears he’s no longer a regular option for Kapler.

Up next

The Phillies wrap up their series against the Nationals Thursday night (7:05 p.m./NBCSP).

They begin a seven-game homestand Friday with the first matchup of a three-game set vs. the last-place Marlins. 

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