Phillies

Phillies call up catching prospect Jorge Alfaro for short stay

Phillies call up catching prospect Jorge Alfaro for short stay

Updated: 5:32 p.m.

Prized catching prospect Jorge Alfaro is coming to the Phillies. But not for long.

Alfaro on Friday was promoted from Double A Reading to the majors, joining the Phillies in New York for their series against the Mets at Citi Field.

Alfaro, already on the Phillies' 40-man roster, will be with the club for one game. He gets the call-up with the Phillies' trade of Carlos Ruiz on Thursday night. Veteran catcher A.J. Ellis, a part of the Ruiz deal, is not yet with the Phillies but will join them Saturday.

Alfaro is a strong candidate to be called up again in mid-September once Reading is finished with the Eastern League playoffs, as explained in this week's Future Phillies Report.

The 23-year-old Alfaro was acquired by the Phillies from the Rangers in last summer's Cole Hamels trade. He's ranked as baseball's top catching prospect by MLBPipeline.com with Gary Sanchez having graduated to the Yankees.

Known for his power potential and big throwing arm, Alfaro has hit .279/.321/.442 with 13 home runs and 61 RBIs. He's thrown out 31 of 70 would-be base stealers, 44 percent.

CSNPhilly.com's Corey Seidman contributed to this post.

Phillies waste Aaron Nola's gem and a chance to sweep Yankees in doubleheader

Phillies waste Aaron Nola's gem and a chance to sweep Yankees in doubleheader

The Phillies split a doubleheader with the New York Yankees on Wednesday night, but it could have been so much better.

The Phils wasted a gem from Aaron Nola and lost the nightcap, 3-1. They didn't hit in that game, and the bullpen imploded once again.

The Yankees are 9-2.

The Phillies, 2-4 after six games, showed off the strength area of their ballclub in the two games.

We're talking about the 1-2 punch of Zack Wheeler and Nola in their starting rotation.

Wheeler pitched six innings of three-run ball and the Phillies got lots of offense in winning the opener, 11-7. It should not have been that close, though. Manager Joe Girardi lifted Wheeler with an eight-run lead after six innings. The Yankees jumped lefty Austin Davis for four runs in the bottom of the seventh before Hector Neris nailed down a one-pitch save in a game in which he should never have been needed.

Using Neris in that game ultimately hurt the Phillies in the nightcap.

Wheeler is 2-0 in as many starts with his new club and he's loving life throwing to J.T. Realmuto.

Because of COVID-19 protocols, both games of the doubleheader were seven-inning affairs.

The offense was not as robust in the nightcap, but Nola was brilliant and that was a really good development for this club.

Nola had struggled in his previous eight starts dating to last August. He was 0-5 (and the team was 0-8 in those games) with a 5.44 ERA over that span.

Nola rebounded in a big way Wednesday night. He looked much like the guy who finished third in the National League Cy Young voting in 2018. Nola's fastball had life — he hit 95 mph on the gun — and his breaking ball and changeup were sharp. He held the Yankees to three hits and a run over six innings. He walked none and struck out 12. The only run Nola allowed came on a first-pitch homer by Luke Voit in the second inning. Voit was sitting breaking ball, got one and clubbed it 420 feet to left. Otherwise, Nola was brilliant.

Because Nola was pitching for only the second time this season, and he was doing it on 12 days' rest, Girardi lifted the right-hander at 88 pitches and entrusted a tie game to veteran Tommy Hunter in the seventh.

Hunter struggled from the outset. He gave up three straight hits — two singles and a double — as the Yankees broke the tie and took a 2-1 lead. Hunter then hit a batter and allowed another hit as the Yankees went up, 3-1.

Hunter faced five batters and retired none before Girardi lifted him.

If you're keeping score at home, the Phillies' bullpen so far has allowed 17 earned runs in 16⅔ innings. That's a 9.18 ERA. Opposing teams are hitting .338 against Phillies relievers. Needless to say, that's awful. 

A lack of offense in a game in which the Yankees employed their bullpen for all seven innings also hurt the Phillies as they wasted Nola's excellent start.

And one had to wonder what might have been hadn't Neris been needed in Game 1. He, instead of Hunter, could have been used in the top of the seventh. It's customary to use your closer in the top of the final inning in a tie game at home.

This bullpen might end up being the undoing of this team. So far, it's a big reason the Phils are just 2-4 after six games.

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Zack Wheeler pitches a gem, Phillies bats come alive for 11 runs in win over Yankees

Zack Wheeler pitches a gem, Phillies bats come alive for 11 runs in win over Yankees

The Phillies got a strong start from Zack Wheeler and plenty of offense as they beat the New York Yankees, 11-7, in the first game of a doubleheader Wednesday at Citizens Bank Park.

Wheeler pitched six innings in the seven-inning affair. He gave up six hits, walked two and struck out two. He has won both of his starts with the Phillies and allowed just four runs (three earned) in 13 innings.

The Phillies, who were the visiting team in Game 1, erased a three-run deficit with four runs in the top of the third inning. They added six runs on six singles and a New York error in the sixth inning.

The leaky bullpen, of course, struggled, but the Phils built a big enough lead to survive.

Bryce Harper clubbed a two-run homer in the third inning. He left the game in the sixth inning after running down the first base line and being checked by an athletic trainer. It was apparently a precautionary move as Harper was in the Game 2 lineup.

J.T. Realmuto also homered for the Phillies, who are now 2-3. Wheeler has both of the team’s wins. 

The Phils will be the home team in Game 2. Aaron Nola will start the game.

It’s never easy

With his team leading, 11-3, manager Joe Girardi removed Wheeler at 87 pitches and entrusted the final three outs to his very shaky bullpen. Lefty Austin Davis was quickly mugged for four runs, three on Aaron Judge’s seventh homer of the season. 

After Trevor Kelley walked a tight rope and put two men on base, Girardi had to bring in closer Hector Neris to get the final out. That might sound insignificant, but it wasn’t, not with a second game to play. Neris threw just one pitch in earning the save. We’ll see if that affects his availability for Game 2.

Unhappy return

Sixteen years after being selected by the Phillies in the third round of the 2004 draft, lefty J.A. Happ faced his original team. Happ and Cole Hamels are the only two members of the 2008 World Series championship team still active.

It was not a pleasant return to CBP for the 37-year-old Happ. He allowed four runs in the top of the third inning to lose a 3-0 lead. The big hit in the frame was Harper’s two-run homer on an 0-2 pitch. Happ walked six batters, including four in the third inning. One of them came with the bases loaded.

Speaking of ...

... Homers on 0-2 counts. The Phillies gave up a whopping 16 of them last season. That was the most in the National League and second-most in the majors behind the Angels, who gave up 18.

In five games this season, Phillies pitchers have already allowed two 0-2 homers. Nola gave up one on a breaking ball in his first start and Wheeler gave up one (also on a breaking ball) to Brett Gardner in the second inning of this game. Other than that, Wheeler was very good.

Stay hot

Girardi went with a right-handed heavy batting order against the lefty Happ. Phil Gosselin started at third and Jean Segura moved to shortstop. Lefty-hitting Didi Gregorius did not start. He entered the game as a pinch-hitter in the fifth and stayed on at shortstop with Segura moving to third.

Gosselin had two plate appearances. He doubled and pushed home a run with a bases-loaded walk in the third.

For the season, Gosselin is 5 for 8 with two homers and a double. He has reached base safely eight times in his 11 plate appearances.

A kick start?

Rhys Hoskins fell behind 0-2 against reliever Nick Nelson in the sixth inning. He then drove a single to left field for his first RBI of the season. Maybe the hit will help Hoskins get going. He was 2 for 15 before the hit. 

On defense

Segura made an error at shortstop that cost Wheeler and the Phillies a run in the first inning. Segura atoned with a nice play to start a double play in the fourth.

The Phils turned three double plays behind Wheeler. Wheeler benefited from four double plays in his first start. Not a bad trend.

Spencer for hire?

Before Game 1, Girardi announced his pitching rotation for the week. Nola will pitch the second game of the doubleheader. Zach Eflin will pitch Thursday against the Yankees and Vince Velasquez and Jake Arrieta will pitch the first two games of the Atlanta series on Friday and Saturday, respectively.

Girardi said Sunday’s starter against the Braves was “to be determined.” It seems reasonable that top pitching prospect Spencer Howard could make his major-league debut that day. Girardi had previously said that he and team officials would discuss the possibility of Howard getting that start. Stay tuned.

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