Phillies

Phillies-Marlins thoughts: Phils need Pivetta to turn a corner in September

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Phillies-Marlins thoughts: Phils need Pivetta to turn a corner in September

Phillies (50-83) at Marlins (66-67)
7:10 p.m. on CSN; streaming live on CSNPhilly.com and the NBC Sports App

Thoughts on Game 2 of the Phillies' four-game series at Marlins Park, their last trip of the season to Miami:

• Some housekeeping notes first: Vince Velasquez will have surgery, reliever Casey Fien was released, and Odubel Herrera and Aaron Altherr had their rehab assignments transferred to Triple A Lehigh Valley. The expectation remains that both outfielders will come off the DL after the weekend.

• The Phillies had an impressive night of pitching in the opener, holding Giancarlo Stanton hitless and the Marlins to two runs on eight hits, six of which were singles.

Ben Lively allowed two runs, making it eight of 10 starts that he's allowed three earned runs or less. And Adam Morgan had a dominant seventh inning, striking out the side and lowering his ERA to 4.46. 

• Morgan ends August by allowing one run in 14⅓ innings with two walks and 22 strikeouts. Yes, 22 strikeouts. He's just a different pitcher with this better fastball and tighter slider. Improbably, he has a chance next spring to pitch himself into a late-inning relief role.

• Stanton ended his insane, historic month of August by going 0 for 9 in his final two games. His 0-for-5 Thursday night was his worst game of the month. From Aug. 1 to Aug. 29, he hit .380 with 18 homers and 37 RBIs in 27 games.

• These are important games for Miami. At 66-67, the Marlins are still theoretically in contention for the final NL wild-card spot but Thursday's result pushed them to six games back.

Nick Pivetta, who has pitched exactly 100 innings in 20 starts, gets the nod tonight. He enters 5-9 with a 6.57 ERA, 106 strikeouts, 45 walks and 21 home runs allowed.

Pivetta has shown this season that he has electric stuff, but he too often either loses his control or misses over the middle of the plate. It's been a learning experience for him.

Pivetta faced the Marlins two starts ago on Aug. 22 and allowed six runs on seven hits and two homers in just 1⅓ innings. He also faced them on July 19 and gave up three runs in 5⅓ innings.

Christian Yelich has homered twice off Pivetta, while Stanton and Marcell Ozuna have taken him deep once each.

• The Phillies face Marlins left-hander Dillon Peters, who is making his major-league debut. A 10th-round pick in 2014, Peters comes up from Double A, where he was 6-2 with a 1.97 ERA in nine starts this season. With 50 walks in 236⅔ minor-league innings, his calling card is control.

The Phillies have held their own against left-handed starting pitchers this season, going 18-19.

Gabe Kapler defends it all after one of the ugliest Phillies' losses you'll ever see

Gabe Kapler defends it all after one of the ugliest Phillies' losses you'll ever see

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On Sunday night, the Phillies and New York Mets will travel upstate to Williamsport to play a regular-season game in front of a few thousand Little Leaguers. It’s all part of a Major League Baseball initiative to inspire young players to excel in the game, reach for the stars and maybe get to the big leagues.

MLB better hope that the brand of ball played in the nationally televised game will be better than what masqueraded as baseball at the highest level early Thursday night.

The Phillies, a sloppy defensive team to begin with, played error-filled ball in the first game of a doubleheader and came away with an eyesore of a 24-4 loss (see first take). The Phillies’ performance ranged from ugly to embarrassing to comical as the team made four errors, gave up 11 unearned runs and resorted to using two position players on the mound to cover the final three innings of the blowout.

Oft-injured outfielder Roman Quinn gave up six hits and seven runs in 1 2/3 innings and infielder Scott Kingery allowed four hits and two runs before the game mercifully ended.

During his stint as a mop-up reliever, Kingery lobbed the ball so slowly that it did not register on the stadium radar gun. Mets hitters dug in and teed off. Players in the Mets’ dugout giggled. Fans, who had booed earlier in the day, also giggled. The whole thing, frankly, was an embarrassment to the sport.

But Phillies manager Gabe Kapler managed to keep it all in perspective, especially as it pertained to his use, or non-use, of the bullpen.

“You guys are going to spin this however you want, but the fact of the matter is, in the fifth inning when we're down 11 runs, we started to prepare for the second game,” he said. “We used strategy to best position the Phillies to win baseball games. We're going to continue to do that. My job is to protect the Phillies. That's it. That's what I did.

“Our best relievers are not excited about coming into those kind of games, those lopsided games. On the flip side, a couple position players enjoyed it. A 24-4 game and a 5-4 game both count as a loss. And so our strategy is to be best positioned to win the next baseball game. If we end up using Luis (Garcia) or (Victor) Arano, they're going to be less effective in the second game. [Quinn and Kingery] got through it safely. We're in a much better position to win Game 2 as a result.”

Kapler defended his use of Quinn, who has missed significant time in his career with a series of injuries.

“I don't have any concerns for Roman throwing the ball 78 miles an hour because that's what he does every day when he plays catch,” Kapler said. “I don't have any concerns for Scotty doing the same thing. It's a strategy decision because we're trying to make the playoffs, we're trying to win the National League East, and the game was out of hand. We now have a bullpen that we can use effectively in Game 2 of this doubleheader.

“Down the road, we're going to look back on this and it's just going to be a time when we got our asses kicked and we had position players on the mound.”

Kapler was asked if that is what fans really want to see, a couple of position players throwing batting practice. The Phillies entered the game with eight relievers and used just two for an inning apiece before Quinn took the mound.

“I think they were probably more entertained than they have been, frankly,” he said. “I would bet that it is more entertaining to watch what we just saw than in the same kind of blowout game one of our relievers that we see regularly.”

Maikel Franco made a pair of errors at third base in the opener. Catcher Jorge Alfaro made a throwing error and leftfielder Rhys Hoskins dropped a ball for another error. All the errors led to runs. Rookie starter Ranger Suarez gave up eight runs, four of which were unearned. Mark Leiter Jr. gave up four hits, including a grand slam, and seven runs in one inning, but all were unearned as the Phils made a pair of errors behind him.

Poor defense is nothing new for these Phillies. They entered the first game of the doubleheader ranked second to last in the majors in defensive runs saved (minus-85), according to Fangraphs. Only Baltimore at minus-95 was worse.

The four errors gave the Phils 92 on the season, tying them with St. Louis for most in the majors.

“We didn't play good defense,” Kapler said. “We put a little additional pressure on our pitchers to get additional outs. These are major-league hitters. They're going to eventually drive the baseball and that's what they did.”

The Mets had 25 hits in the first game. Eleven of the hits, including three homers, were for extra bases.

All four of the Phillies’ runs in the first game came on solo homers by Hoskins, Franco, Alfaro and Nick Williams.

The loss left the Phillies at 66-54 heading into the nightcap.

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Sloppy Phillies suffer embarrassing 24-4 loss to Mets in Game 1 of doubleheader

Sloppy Phillies suffer embarrassing 24-4 loss to Mets in Game 1 of doubleheader

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This was about as ugly as it can get.

Less than 24 hours after one of their best wins of the season, the Phillies turned in an absolutely embarrassing performance in losing, 24-4, to the New York Mets in the first game of a doubleheader at Citizens Bank Park on Thursday.

The Phillies made four errors in the ballgame and allowed 11 unearned runs, the most since they allowed a club-record 12 in a game during the 1923 season.

Things got so ugly that the Phillies had to use two position players, Roman Quinn and Scott Kingery, to pitch the final three innings.

Quinn, who has a long injury history, got through 1 2/3 innings and 42 pitches healthy, but he was tagged for six hits, two walks and seven runs.

Kingery allowed two runs in the ninth inning. He lobbed the ball so slowly that it did not register on the stadium radar gun. Mets hitters dug in and teed off. Players in the Mets’ dugout giggled. Fans, who had booed earlier in the day, also giggled as the game was reduced to a comic act. The whole thing was an embarrassment to the sport (see Gabe Kapler's reaction). And to think, it came one day after the Phillies came back from three runs down to beat the Boston Red Sox, 7-4. Boston is far and away the majors' best team.

The Mets pulverized Phillies pitching for 25 hits. The Mets had 11 extra-base hits, including three homers.

Rookie lefty Ranger Suarez was called up from Triple A to start the first game of the doubleheader. He was hit hard to the tune of 11 hits and eight runs in four innings. Half of the runs Suarez allowed were unearned.

Mark Leiter Jr., also recalled earlier in the day from Triple A, was tagged for seven runs in the fifth inning. All the runs were unearned.

Maikel Franco made a pair of errors at third base. Catcher Jorge Alfaro made a throwing error and Rhys Hoskins dropped a ball in left field for another error. All the errors set up runs — multiples of them.

Poor defense is nothing new for these Phillies. They entered the game ranked second to last in the majors in defensive runs saved (minus-85), according to Fangraphs. Only Baltimore at minus-95 was worse.

The four errors gave the Phils 92 on the season, tying them with St. Louis for most in the majors.

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