Phillies-Marlins observations: Ben Lively bounces back in 3-2 win

Phillies-Marlins observations: Ben Lively bounces back in 3-2 win


MIAMI — It wasn’t a fatal blow, but the Phillies landed a damaging dagger to the heart of the Miami Marlins and their fading playoff hopes with a 3-2 win on Thursday night at Marlins Park.

Ben Lively (2-5) earned the win by allowing just two runs in six innings. He also drove in two runs in an all-around performance. (OK, he made a throwing error, but still …)

Hector Neris earned his 17th save the very hard way, loading the bases before striking out J.T. Realmuto, who watched a 2-2 fastball for strike three.  

With the win, the Phillies (50-83) became the last team in the majors to reach 50 victories. The Marlins (66-67) fell six games behind the Colorado Rockies in the battle for the final wild-card berth in the National League.

• The Marlins appeared to had tied the score in the eighth inning on a swinging bunt by Tomas Telis. Reliever Luis Garcia’s throw to first bounced into right field and allowed Derek Dietrich to score from first. However, Telis ran out of the baseline at first and was called out, crushing the rally. The Phillies dodged the proverbial bullet.  

• Left-hander Adam Morgan turned in an impressive relief outing, striking out the side in the seventh. Morgan got all three batters swinging. And these weren’t just any three batters. They were Giancarlo Stanton, who leads the majors in homers; Christian Yelich, a Silver Slugger winner last year who has 16 homers this season; and Marcell Ozuna, a 2017 All-Star who has 31 homers and 103 RBIs (see story).

• The power versus power matchup — Stanton against Phillies rookie Rhys Hoskins — never materialized. Stanton went 0 for 5 with a fly out, two strikeouts and two pop outs. He is 1 for 15 this week.

Hoskins, who has 11 homers in 22 games, didn’t go deep, but he went 1 for 3 with a single and a walk. Hoskins became the first Phillies rookie to produce a 13-game hit streak in the first month of his major-league career since Hall of Famer Chuck Klein accomplished the feat in 1928.

• The Phillies were sloppy on defense, making three errors. Shortstop Freddy Galvis, who could be forced to give up his spot upon the imminent arrival of minor-league standout J.P. Crawford, made one of the miscues. Galvis charged in on a slow roller but couldn’t make the grab.

The other two errors happened on the same play as a Dee Gordon bunt turned into — in net effect — a triple because of throwing errors by Lively and second baseman Cesar Hernandez. 
• Lively, who entered Friday 3 for 14 with one homer and two RBIs as a competent (for a pitcher) big-league hitter, doubled his RBI count with a two-run single in the fourth. He raised his batting average to .235.

• Left-swinging Phillies rightfielder Nick Williams has had fairly even splits against right-handers and left-handers this year. He entered Thursday batting .281 with an .844 OPS against right-handers and .280 with a .785 OPS against left-handers.

Having even splits is the key to playing every day, especially for a rookie such as Williams, who is still trying to prove himself. But in the seventh inning, with a runner on third and one out, Williams hit a grounder to third base, failing to get the run in against rookie lefty reliever Jarlin Garcia.

Will losing deter free agents from joining Phillies? Gabe Kapler weighs in

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Will losing deter free agents from joining Phillies? Gabe Kapler weighs in

DENVER — Sometimes you look at the mounting losses and wonder why Bryce Harper would want to be part of this.

Or Manny Machado.

Or Patrick Corbin.

The Phillies will be active in this winter’s free-agent market. They have the money. They have the desire. If you know owner John Middleton, you might call it an obsession.

But lately there’s been a feeling that all the Phillies’ losing — another loss Tuesday night made it 31 in the last 46 games — coupled with the unorthodox managerial stylings of Gabe Kapler might be a turnoff to free agents.

We don’t particularly buy this narrative because 1) the signing of one or two key free agents could help turn the losing around next season and 2) in free agency it’s all about the Benjamins and the Phillies have lots of them.

Kapler, whose team led the NL East on Aug. 5, does not believe the shine has worn off the Phillies as a free-agent destination.

“I think it’s likely a more attractive destination because I think people are very aware of the resources that the Philadelphia Phillies have,” Kapler said. “I don’t think that there’s any shortage of information on how we intend to be especially competitive in 2019.

“I think it’s really important to not respond to, and when I say not respond I mean not evaluate, based on a 45-game stretch. We haven’t played good baseball for quite some time. You cannot argue with that fact. It’s unacceptable. But it’s a fact. You also cannot argue with the fact that we played very good baseball for a half-plus of the season. And finally, you can’t argue with the fact that we have tremendous resources and a very young and talented core group of players. So if you look at all of those things combined, I think you have an especially attractive destination.”

No changes on coaching staff

Kapler said his entire coaching staff would return next season. All are under contract for 2019.

“I love our staff,” Kapler said. “I think they’ve done a tremendous job. They’ve worked especially hard all year long. They look out for each other and I think they are already seeking process improvement for 2019.”

The game

The Phillies gave up 10 runs for the second straight night in a 10-3 loss to the Rockies.

The Phils have lost six in a row and are 6-17 in September. They are under .500 for the first time since April 9. They had been 15 games over .500 on Aug. 5. The Phils need to win four of their remaining five games to finish with a winning record.

Odubel Herrera drove in the Phillies’ first run. He also dropped a ball in right field and did not run hard on a ground ball in the first inning. In other words, Odubel being Odubel.

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If you're waiting for Gabe Kapler to pitch a fit, keep waiting – ‘I won’t be a character’

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If you're waiting for Gabe Kapler to pitch a fit, keep waiting – ‘I won’t be a character’

DENVER — After falling flat on their faces, losing four straight games and being officially eliminated from postseason contention, the Phillies arrived in Coors Field for the first of four games with the Rockies on Monday night.

The Phils were hammered, 10-1. The defeat marked their 30th loss in 45 games and dropped them to the .500 mark for the first time since April 10 when the season was just 10 games.

An embarrassing loss like Monday night’s — coming on top of a steady wave of losses — might have caused some managers to give the boys a good ol' butt-chewing after the game. Some managers might have kicked over a chair in the clubhouse or gone off on an umpire. Anything to ramp up the urgency and send a message that what’s happening is not acceptable.

Gabe Kapler did none of this.

It’s not him. He prefers his conversations with players to be private and not for show.

“For me, the way that I personally operate, I need more than ‘sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t work,’“ he said Tuesday. “That’s just my personality. I’m not flipping a coin. I’m not throwing (crap) against the wall to see what sticks. I just don’t do that. I want a reason. If I’m going to get the group together and have a conversation, I want a reason for it. I want to be very confident that it’s going to be helpful.”

Would it be?

“I don’t know,” he said.

Kapler is an amazingly aware guy. He’s plugged-in, connected, never far away from his iPad. He is social-media savvy. He knows people think he’s too positive. He knows fans want to see him pull a Larry Bowa or a Dallas Green or even a Charlie Manuel.

Not happening.

“I think, honestly, people have a hard time with it,” he said. “They want me to be that character. It’s hard. It’s not who I am. However, I think one of the things that’s been missed in this season is that I feel what people feel. I suffer with people. I am extremely, extremely competitive. I (bleeping) hate to lose. So all these things I share in common. People don’t tend to really read it on me. And I think that’s confusing for people. That’s OK.

“I read everything. I know what people think of me. I know how people are responding to me. Some of it I can do something about and I will. There are other things … First, I’m not willing to compromise my integrity to be a character. My job is to help the Philadelphia Phillies win baseball games. It’s not to be a persona. But that doesn’t mean I don’t (bleeping) feel. Yes, I promise I get mad. Yes, I promise there are conversations that get loud. I promise I pound my fist from time to time. I’m not going to do it for who. It’s not who I am.”

Kapler mentioned two of his managerial mentors, Terry Francona and Joe Maddon. He played for Francona in 2004 when the Red Sox won the World Series. Francona never held a team meeting that season.

“I think there’s something to my experience in that clubhouse that leads me to lead this clubhouse in a similar fashion,” Kapler said. “That’s who he was. He let the players police the clubhouse. He had some veterans that were very good at it. And when he spoke, he spoke to guys individually. That doesn’t mean that it’s the only way to do it.”

But it’s Kapler’s way.

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