Phillies-Nationals observations: Big 3rd inning in 4-1 win

Phillies-Nationals observations: Big 3rd inning in 4-1 win


Tommy Joseph and Cameron Rupp keyed a three-run third inning and the bullpen pitched well in lifting the Phillies to a 4-1 win over the Washington Nationals at Citizens Bank Park on Tuesday night.

The win was the lowly Phillies' 63rd against 95 losses and it ensured that the team will not reach the 100-defeat mark. The Phils have not lost 100 games in a season since 1961. Nonetheless, the Phils entered the game tied with San Francisco for having the game's worst record.
Joseph and Rupp have each lost playing time recently. Joseph had an RBI single in the third and Rupp scorched a two-run, two-out double over the centerfielder's head.

• Jake Thompson pitched five innings of one-run ball. He pitched 46 1/3 innings in the majors this season and had a 3.88 ERA. For his career, he is at 100 big-league innings. His ERA is 4.86.

• Washington starter Gio Gonzalez entered the game with the third-best ERA in the National League at 2.68. He allowed five hits and three runs over five innings. He struck out seven but walked five. Two of those walks became runs. Gonzalez will need to be better when the postseason starts next week.

• Washington star Bryce Harper returned to the lineup for the first time since suffering a hyperextended left knee on Aug. 12. He was hitless with a walk in three at-bats. Harper is basically trying to get his timing back for the postseason.

• Pitch efficiency was seriously lacking early in the game as Thompson and Gonzalez combined to throw 96 pitches in the first two innings. Thompson threw 29 strikes and 18 balls in the first two innings. Gonzalez threw 25 strikes and 24 balls in the first two innings and reached 100 pitches with one out in the fifth inning.

• J.P. Crawford continued to get work at third base. His actions and first-step quickness at the position are excellent. He made a quick-reaction diving stab on a liner from Ryan Zimmerman in the sixth inning. That ball came off Zimmerman's bat at 108 mph.

• Edubray Ramos, Adam Morgan, Luis Garcia and Hector Neris combined on four shutout innings — and nine strikeouts — out of the bullpen. Morgan has given up just two runs in his last 25 innings. Neris has converted 19 straight save chances.

• Odubel Herrera's first two at-bats against Gonzalez were not pretty. He struck out swinging at a pitch up and out of the strike zone in the second inning and popped weakly to short with men on base in the fourth. He got out in front of a Gonzalez curveball and popped to center in the fifth. In the eighth, he fanned against reliever Austin Adams.

• Smart play by Freddy Galvis taking an extra base on Nats first baseman Zimmerman on a groundout in the seventh. Zimmerman has trouble throwing the ball, hence his position move from third base to first. Galvis knew this, alertly took advantage of it and it resulted in a run on a sacrifice fly by Rhys Hoskins.

• Hoskins entered the game in an 0-for-10 funk (5 for 37 overall) and struck out on curveballs from Gonzalez in his first two at-bats. He rebounded to draw a walk in the fifth and had an important sacrifice fly in the seventh.

• Mark Leiter Jr. (3-6, 4.69) pitches against Washington's Tanner Roark (13-10, 4.41) in the series finale on Wednesday night.

Flyers fans have message for Bryce Harper at 2019 Stadium Series

Flyers fans have message for Bryce Harper at 2019 Stadium Series

Bryce Harper Mania is getting so out of control, folks in the Delaware Valley are already insinuating that Philadelphia is the slugger's home.

Really, Las Vegas is his home. Some would consider Washington, D.C. as his home, given he has played their all seven seasons of his big-league career.

But we can totally change his home to Philly. Why not?

Come home, Bryce.

A fan at Saturday night's Flyers-Penguins Stadium Series game at Lincoln Financial Field made that message loud and clear.

The 26-year-old is the megastar free agent general Matt Klentak and company are trying to land as Harper remains out there (yes, still) with spring training well underway and exhibition games being played.

The Harper buzz has spread everywhere and even Phillies players down in Clearwater, Florida, are joining the fun.

"I saw a helicopter circling over here the other day and we were joking, saying it would be funny if he just landed here and got out," Andrew McCutchen said Saturday, via NBC Sports Philadelphia's Jim Salisbury.

Beloved former Phillie Jimmy Rollins, who now works for the club as a special advisor, was at the Flyers-Penguins game and caught up with NBC Sports Philadelphia's John Clark about the Harper drama.

Harper is a hockey a fan.

If he was tuning into Saturday night's game, maybe he saw the message and will "come home."

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Gabe Kapler is high on Seranthony Dominguez: 'He has no ceiling'

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Gabe Kapler is high on Seranthony Dominguez: 'He has no ceiling'


CLEARWATER, Fla. — Seranthony Dominguez made his major league debut five weeks into the season last year and quickly became manager Gabe Kapler’s favorite bullpen weapon.

“When Seranthony is at his best, there may not be a better reliever in baseball,” Kapler said after Dominguez made his spring debut with three quick outs against the Pittsburgh Pirates on Saturday.

“He has no ceiling. He can be as good as anyone in the league.”

Keeping the hard-throwing, 24-year-old right-hander healthy was a priority last season and it remains so this year. Dominguez had a 1.59 ERA in his first 29 games last season but it rose to 4.88 over the next 24. That might have been attributable to fatigue and the Phils want to guard against that this season.

“We’ve had a player plan meeting with Dominguez and one of the things we want to do is definitely stay in close contact with him,” Kapler said. “Anything that crops up for him related to fatigue, we definitely want to back off.

“We did see that giving him a little bit more rest made him more effective so we’re going to pay really close attention to that.”

It’s a balancing act for Kapler. The stakes are higher for the Phillies this year. The rebuild is complete. The talent is better. Bryce Harper might be coming. It’s time to win. There might be times, Kapler said, when he uses Dominguez on a night when “maybe he could use a little bit of rest,” and other nights when he stays away from Dominguez to preserve the life on his fastball for the long haul of the season.

Kapler admitted it was tempting to use Dominguez every night — wherever the game dictated — when he was pitching well last season. He believes the Phillies are better positioned to be able to back off Dominguez when needed this season. Hector Neris rediscovered his splitter and confidence and finished with a six-week flurry last season. Pat Neshek is healthy. Tommy Hunter and his hard cutter is back. And the addition of David Robertson, one of the most consistent late-game arms in the majors the last eight seasons, will help.

“We’ve got some pretty good weapons down there,” Kapler said. “That could lead to us being less reliant on Seranthony, even if he’s at his best.”

Nine different relievers saved games for the Phils last season as Kapler mostly used a matchup strategy late in games. He will likely use the same strategy at the outset of this season, but it would not be surprising to see Dominguez, Neris or Robertson eventually get significant save opportunities.

The game 

The Phillies lost, 3-2, to the Pirates. Dylan Cozens had a pair of doubles and Matt McBride homered. Drew Anderson starts for the Phillies against the Tigers in Lakeland on Sunday.

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