Phillies

Phillies-Nationals observations: Strasburg dominates as Phils end trip with a thud

Phillies-Nationals observations: Strasburg dominates as Phils end trip with a thud

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WASHINGTON -- Washington Nationals manager Dusty Baker held most of his regulars out of the lineup Sunday, but not Stephen Strasburg. Much to the Phillies' chagrin, the right-hander got the ball and was dominant in leading a 3-2 Washington win.
 
Strasburg pitched eight shutout innings, allowed two hits (both singles), a walk and struck out 10.
 
He has pitched 34 straight scoreless innings, a Montreal/Washington franchise record. He has not allowed a run in four straight starts.
 
Strasburg left with a 3-0 lead. The Phillies scored two runs in the in the ninth, on a Nick Williams base hit against Ryan Madson, but got no closer.

Trea Turner was the only Washington regular in the starting lineup. He tripled and scored the Nats' first run in the sixth and later homered.

The Nationals' win over the Phillies combined with the Marlins' loss to the Braves officially clinched the National League East title for Washington.

The Phillies went 5-6 on the 11-game trip and Williams had 15 RBIs.
 
• Battling Ben Lively delivered his third straight quality start. He became first Phillies pitcher not named Aaron Nola to pitch into the eighth inning this season. He gave up five hits and three runs in completing eight. He walked one, struck out seven and received no run support.

• While teams like the Dodgers, Astros, Cubs and Indians have gotten much of the spotlight this season, the Nationals have played a bit under the radar. But they will be a tough team to reckon with in the postseason. With Max Scherzer (2.32), Gio Gonzalez (2.50) and Strasburg (2.64), they have the second-, third- and fourth-best ERAs in the National League, and the July acquisitions of Brandon Kintzler, Ryan Madson and Sean Doolittle have bolstered the bullpen. Of course, they still need to get Bryce Harper healthy and there's optimism they will. Watch out for the Nats.

• Pete Mackanin had considered playing J.P. Crawford at second base but backed off on that because he wanted to keep Cesar Hernandez's bat in the lineup after Hernandez had three hits Saturday night. Crawford got the start at third, but Mackanin kept Maikel Franco in the lineup after he'd homered in two straight games. Franco played first base for the first time since 2015 when he played two games there. Franco had not even taken a ground ball at first base since then. He borrowed Andres Blanco's first baseman's glove for the game. Rhys Hoskins returned to left field. A lot of the positional movement is dictated by wanting to get Crawford at-bats without thrusting Freddy Galvis to the background. Galvis is a Gold Glove candidate and could be a trade candidate this winter. "I want guys to play in different places," Mackanin said. "But I want to try to keep the guys that are hitting in the lineup." Aaron Altherr got the start in center field as Odubel Herrera sat out.

• Franco had the Phillies' only two hits against Strasburg, both singles. More on him in the coming days, but he's begun to make adjustments at the plate, especially with his hands and his footwork at the plate. Time will tell what it will bring.

• Tough day for Hoskins — he struck out three times against Strasburg. It happens.

• Crawford struck out twice against Strasburg then worked a full count against Madson and yanked a single in the hole between first and second. Crawford is 4 for 20 with seven strikeouts and no walks after his first six games.

• The Phillies have just 19 games remaining and 16 of them are at home. They are off Monday and begin a 10-game homestand Tuesday night with the first of three against the Miami Marlins. Here are the pitching matchups for that series:

Tuesday night — RHP Nick Pivetta (5-10, 6.49) vs. LHP Dillon Peters (0-1, 2.25)
 
Wednesday night — RHP Aaron Nola (10-10, 3.71) vs. RHP Dan Straily (9-8, 3.95)

Thursday night — RHP Jake Thompson (1-2, 5.23) vs. RHP Jose Urena (13-6, 3.61)

No Manny, no problem — these Phillies believe they're good enough to keep winning

No Manny, no problem — these Phillies believe they're good enough to keep winning

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The Phillies did not win the Manny Machado sweepstakes and, for one night at least, it didn’t really matter. The team’s offense showed up big in an 11-5 win over the San Diego Padres at Citizens Bank Park on Friday night (see first take).

“There's a lot of teams out there that wanted Machado because he's pretty much going to help anybody," Jake Arrieta said after the game. "But we've gotten into the position we are with the guys we have. 

"Would it have been cool to have a guy like that? Yeah. On the flip side, it gives other guys more opportunity to show they can produce at a high level and help us continue the way we’ve been playing.”

Arrieta got the ball in the first game back from the All-Star break, but he did not produce at a high level. He did not make it out of the fourth inning and allowed five runs. His teammates bailed him out, though, scoring six runs in the second inning and four more in the eighth as the Phils maintained their half-game lead on Atlanta in the NL East and improved to 54-42.

The crowd was 30,034, so folks are beginning to notice the progress that this team has made.

The Phillies played sloppy ball early in the game. Arrieta and catcher Jorge Alfaro both made errors. There was a wild pitch. Odubel Herrera and Maikel Franco both ran the bases a little recklessly.

But the Phils were able to play over these flaws because the bullpen came up huge with 5 2/3 shutout innings — rookie Austin Davis got his first big-league win — and the offense delivered 12 hits, including a huge, game-changing, three-run homer by Carlos Santana in the bottom of the second inning.

It was Santana’s 15th homer. The Phillies will need more power from him in the middle of the order as the second half unfolds. The need for pop is the reason the Phillies pursued Machado, who ended up in Los Angeles.

“Great player, man,” de facto team captain Rhys Hoskins said. “The Dodgers got a great player.

“But I think we’ve always thought that we can surprise a lot of people with the people we have in this room. We have a lot of talent. There hasn’t really been a time this year when we’ve all clicked at the same time, which I think is pretty exciting. And it’s going to happen at some point this year, hopefully for a long period of time. We’re in first place and that hasn’t happened yet, so that’s exciting.”

Manager Gabe Kapler began the day brushing off questions about Machado and expressing faith in his team as it is currently constructed.

“I have a tremendous amount of confidence in the men in that room,” he said. “We have everything we need. If we make additions — fantastic. But what we have is all we need. I’m really impressed with the group. We’re in first place for a reason. We didn’t get there with anybody but the men in that clubhouse right now.”

Santana echoed those comments after the game.

“Machado is a great player, but we believe in what we have here,” he said. “We have great talent. I know we have a lot of younger players, and I know sometimes people don't feel good about Philadelphia, but we believe.”

Santana and Arrieta are two of only a few Phillies players who’ve been involved in a pennant race previously. Arrieta had pitched well in his previous three starts before allowing six hits and three walks in 3 1/3 innings Friday night. He will need to pitch better than that if the Phils are going to stay in the race — and he knows it.

“When you’re behind early like that, it’s just really nice to see the team be able to pick you up,” Arrieta said. “I didn’t really have much tonight. They picked me up, and that’s something that I intend to do when it’s my opportunity to do that for our guys, when we have that need.”

Arrieta did make an important offensive contribution when he beat out a potential inning-ending double-play ball to keep the second inning alive. Cesar Hernandez and Hoskins (RBI) then worked walks against Clayton Richard before Herrera stroked a two-run single and Santana blasted his three-run homer. All the runs came with two outs with walks filling the bases and big hits clearing them.

The Phillies erupted for four runs in the bottom of the eighth, building a two-run lead to a six-run lead. The importance of that rally was huge as it allowed Kapler to stay away from bullpen ace Seranthony Dominguez. He will be fresh as the Phillies look to make it two in a row over the Padres on Saturday night.

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Phillies come roaring out of All-Star break to blast Padres

Phillies come roaring out of All-Star break to blast Padres

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The Phillies came back from the All-Star break Friday night and survived a ragged first inning en route to an 11-5 win over the San Diego Padres at Citizens Bank Park.

Carlos Santana led the Phillies’ offense with a three-run home run, highlighting the team’s six-run second inning.

Phillies starting pitcher Jake Arrieta was not sharp. He allowed five base runners — on three hits and two walks — and four runs in the first inning. It did not help that the Phils made two errors in the inning. One of the errors was by Arrieta and he also threw a wild pitch.

Arrieta’s mates got him off the hook with a big second inning against lefty Clayton Richard. The Phils drew three walks in the inning and two of them came around to score. Santana’s 15th homer was the big blow in the inning. Odubel Herrera chipped in with a two-run single and Rhys Hoskins worked a bases-loaded walk.

Arrieta had pitched well — four earned runs in 19 innings — in his first three starts in July. He did not make it out of the fourth inning in this one. He gave up six hits and five runs. Two of his three walks led off innings and became runs.

The Phillies’ bullpen was exceptional. Austin Davis, Victor Arano, Tommy Hunter, Pat Neshek and Adam Morgan combined on 5 2/3 scoreless innings. The left-hander Davis earned his first big-league win with 1 2/3 scoreless innings.

The offense erupted for four more runs in the bottom of the eighth to salt the game away.

Santana finished the night with four RBIs.

The attendance was 30,034.

The win improved the Phillies to 54-42 overall and 31-16 at Citizens Bank Park. They maintained a half-game lead in the NL East over second-place Atlanta, which was victorious at Washington. The Nats are 6½ games back.

Notes
• Vince Velasquez (5-8, 4.39) will start Saturday night against San Diego’s Luis Perdomo (1-4, 7.55). Nick Pivetta (6-7, 4.58) will start Sunday afternoon against Tyson Ross (5-8, 4.32).

The blister on Zach Eflin’s right middle finger has healed. He will come off the disabled list and face the Dodgers on Monday night. Aaron Nola will round out the rotation and start on Tuesday. The Phillies wanted to give Nola a couple of extra days of rest.

“He’s been a dependable horse and we thought it was smart to give him a blow,” manager Gabe Kapler said.

• J.P. Crawford, on the DL with a fractured hand, has been cleared to take ground balls and hit balls off a tee. 

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