Phillies

Phillies hitters rack up 15 Ks, Gomez blows save in loss to Pirates

Phillies hitters rack up 15 Ks, Gomez blows save in loss to Pirates

BOX SCORE

As the final month of this Phillies season winds down, there have been some glimmers of hope for the future.
 
But there have also been those reminders that this team still has a long way to go in its rebuild.
 
Alec Asher pitched well again in a 5-3 loss to the Pittsburgh Pirates at Citizens Bank Park on Tuesday night (see Instant Replay). His 6⅓ innings of two-run ball marked the 11th straight start in which a Phillies starting pitcher has allowed three or fewer earned runs. Over those 11 games, Phillies starters have a 1.99 ERA, the best in the majors during that span. Considering that five — Asher, Vince Velasquez, Jake Thompson, Jerad Eickhoff and Adam Morgan — of the six pitchers who have contributed to the nice run of success are under control for next season, that’s a pretty good sign.
 
“I’m excited about the starting pitching,” manager Pete Mackanin said. “That’s something to take forward.”
 
But even with the starters pitching so well recently, the Phillies are still just 4-8 in the month of September. Much of that lack of success can be attributed to the team’s poor offense. The Phils have been shut out three times this month, and as time runs out on the season, they are racking up strikeouts at an alarming rate.
 
On Tuesday night, Phillies hitters struck out 15 times.
 
In 12 games this month, Phillies hitters have struck out 130 times, more than 10 per game. That, by far, is the most in the majors over that span. Minnesota is next with 118 whiffs.
 
Lately, the strikeouts have swelled. Here’s the rundown the last seven games: 13, 11, 12, 10, 9, 11, 15.
 
“We struck out 15 more times,” Mackanin said after Tuesday night’s loss. “We’re striking out too much.”
 
And not getting on base enough.
 
Or scoring enough.
 
The Phils are last in the majors in both of those categories. They have an on-base percentage of just .296 and have scored just 529 runs, 3.65 per game.
 
Despite scoring just three runs Tuesday night, the Phils had a chance to win the ballgame because Asher kept them in it and Freddy Galvis broke a 2-2 tie with a sacrifice fly in the bottom of the eighth.
 
The Pirates won it when Jeanmar Gomez blew a one-run lead in the ninth. He gave up a walk, a double and a three-run homer to Sean Rodriguez without retiring a batter.
 
“It was a tough night,” Gomez said. “Tomorrow will be better.”
 
“It’s a shame to lose that game,” Mackanin said. “We battled back. But we also shot ourselves in the foot.”
 
True enough. Pittsburgh scored the tying run in seventh after Asher walked two batters with one out. Reliever Michael Mariot then walked the first batter he faced before uncorking a wild pitch, allowing the Pirates to tie the game at 2-2. A baserunning mistake by Aaron Altherr in the bottom of the inning also did not help.
 
“There were quite a few positives, but a few more negatives,” Mackanin said. “Asher was really good, then he walked a couple of guys. Three walks and a wild pitch to get them back in the game. That didn’t help. They scored without getting a hit. That’s tough to take.
 
“Then we went ahead but didn’t get the job done.”
 
Even with his struggles in the seventh, Asher pitched well and showed promise. He’s made two starts with the big club this season and given up just two runs in 12⅓ innings.
 
“I thought it went well, but I didn’t like giving up those free bases,” Asher said of the two walks in the seventh.
 
Another recent addition also shined. Roman Quinn started at his third different outfield position — left — in as many nights and reached base three times and scored a run. He had two hits, including a bunt single.
 
Quinn has serious wheels and he’s fun to watch.
 
The rest of the offense hasn’t been fun to watch. Too many strikeouts. Not enough base runners. Not enough runs.

Another sign that Joe Girardi will be hired to manage somewhere soon

Another sign that Joe Girardi will be hired to manage somewhere soon

In another sign that he's likely to return to managing in the majors in 2020, Joe Girardi stepped down as the manager of USA Baseball, the organization announced Wednesday.

Girardi, who is believed to have met with Phillies officials Monday, is a strong candidate for multiple open manager jobs. The Phillies are interested, and the Cubs and Mets appear to be hot after him as well.

Girardi is the overwhelming fan choice to manage the Phillies. It's hard not to see the appeal of his combination of experience, blend of new school and old school and track record of winning. Phillies fans seem to prefer Girardi to Buck Showalter, whose teams haven't advanced as far in the postseason.

Girardi has played things differently this year than last. He had two interviews for the Reds job last fall but pulled himself out of the process, saying it wasn't the right time.

Now, he wants to manage. And the openings this time around are more appealing — three major market clubs in Philadelphia, New York and Chicago. The Mets do not spend to their market size but the Phillies and Cubs have done so in win-now periods.

It is much more likely that the Phillies would be forced into a bidding war for Girardi than for Showalter because of the number of interested teams.



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Joe Maddon hired by Angels, officially off the board for Phillies manager opening

Joe Maddon hired by Angels, officially off the board for Phillies manager opening

The first of the eight manager jobs open across Major League Baseball to begin this offseason has been filled.

The Los Angeles Angels on Wednesday announced the hiring of Joe Maddon. Maddon's contract is reportedly for three years. A native of West Hazleton, Pennsylvania, Maddon has a long history in the Angels organization. Between 1975 and 2006, Maddon played and managed in the team's minor-league system, served as a coach with the Major League club and assumed the role of interim manager.

Maddon has a 1,251-1,068 record as a manager in the major leagues. He led the Tampa Bay Rays to an American League pennant in 2008 and skippered the Chicago Cubs to a World Series in 2016, their first championship since 1908. Maddon will take over an Angels team that finished 72-90 in 2019, led by two-time MVP Mike Trout.

Though Maddon might have appeared to be an attractive name for the Phillies job, Joe Girardi, Buck Showalter and Dusty Baker are the only candidates known for the position at the moment, according to Jim Salisbury. Baker is meeting with Phillies officials Wednesday, and a hire could come quickly, per Salisbury (see story).

USA Today's Bob Nightengale reports Showalter was the runner-up for the Angles job.



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