roman quinn

Phillies are 4-0 since changing hitting coaches and 'of course, Charlie's had an impact'

Phillies are 4-0 since changing hitting coaches and 'of course, Charlie's had an impact'

Baseball is a game most accurately measured over the long haul, not in short snippets. So we probably won’t know for a couple of weeks or more exactly what impact Charlie Manuel is having on the Phillies’ offense.

But with nothing but a short snippet to work with thus far, we can definitely say this:

So far, so great.

Take it from sizzling J.T. Realmuto.

“Of course, Charlie's had an impact,” Realmuto said after the Phillies slugged their way past the San Diego Padres, 8-4, at Citizens Bank Park on Friday night.

“Just having him in the dugout, being able to walk by him and have him say something as simple as, ‘Hey, stay short.’ He's a guy that everybody in this clubhouse looks up to so we're definitely glad to have him.”

The Phillies have matched a season-high with four straight wins, all on this homestand, and all coinciding with the dismissal of hitting coach John Mallee and the insertion of Manuel into that role.

Officially, Manuel has been in the dugout for three games. In those three games, the Phils have pounded out 35 hits, including seven homers and eight doubles, and scored 26 runs.

Not bad for a club that went 2-5 on its most recent road trip, scored one or zero runs in three of the five losses and was the victim of a one-hitter and a three-hitter.

“There’s a lot of confidence and looseness in our at-bats,” manager Gabe Kapler said. “We’re not forcing it right now. There’s not a whole lot of pressing going on. I think guys are just in an easy state of mind.”

How much of that has to do with Manuel’s arrival?

“I think Charlie has done a great job of keeping it loose,” Kapler said. “He’s great to talk to. He’s got an incredible demeanor. It’s always nice to look over and see him in the dugout with us. He’s a real calming presence and I think he’s only had a positive impact.”

The Phils had 12 hits, including homers by Realmuto, Bryce Harper and Roman Quinn, in Friday’s night win. The victory put the Phils in a tie with the Chicago Cubs for the second NL wild card spot. Both teams are 64-58. The Phillies took three from the Cubs earlier this week, capped by Thursday night’s wild 7-5 win in which Harper clubbed a game-winning grand slam in the bottom of the ninth.

Harper hit a three-run homer to put the game out of reach Friday night. He has seven homers and 17 RBIs over his last nine games. Harper is up to 90 RBIs, putting him in the top 10 in the NL.

“It's a lot of fun to watch from this side,” Realmuto said. “I've seen it a lot from the other side (when he was with the Marlins) in recent years. When Bryce gets hot, he's one of the most exciting players to watch, as you guys are seeing right now.

“These last four nights have been a ton of fun, really. Kind of putting our tough stretch behind us and going out there, we have a lot more confidence than we've had in the past couple weeks so it makes for more fun baseball and that's when you win. You go out there and you have fun, let loose a little bit, you enjoy the crowd. Obviously, they're into it. They've been a blast for us the last four games so we're just riding that emotion, just got to keep going.”

Realmuto is as hot as Harper. He had a homer, a double and a single and is hitting .313 (51 for 163) with 16 doubles, 8 homers and 29 RBIs over his last 44 games.

“We’ve talked about our offense and how when guys clicked together it could be the catalyst to win a lot of baseball games,” Kapler said. “And I think we're seeing that Bryce and J.T. can carry us, but we’re also getting contributions up and down the lineup.”

If Rhys Hoskins can get going when he returns to the lineup — he did not start because of a sore hand Friday night, but will be ready to start Saturday — the Phillies could have three hot hitters. And they could use even more than that because if they’re going to make a run over the final 40 games, they will need to out-hit other clubs. The pitching is just too suspect to carry this team.

Nonetheless, the Phillies got a good start from Vince Velasquez on Friday night. He pitched shutout ball through the first five innings before being bitten by the dreaded third-time-through-the-lineup bug.

Velasquez needs to continue to deliver good starts to keep the Phillies in this thing. Ditto for the rest of the rotation. Zach Eflin returns to the rotation on Saturday. He has stretches where he pitched well for a month. The Phillies could certainly use one right now.

“What we need is quality starts,” Kapler said. “We’re not looking for eight innings and zeroes every night. What we’re looking for is to be in games. If we’re in games, we have the kind of offense that can win those games, so we just want very competitive starts from our starters. We feel confident that Zach can help us compete (Saturday night).”

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No turning off the power as Bryce Harper, Phillies slug into playoff position

No turning off the power as Bryce Harper, Phillies slug into playoff position

BOX SCORE

Bryce Harper and the Phillies’ offense kept on humming in an 8-4 win over the San Diego Padres at Citizens Bank Park on Friday night.

The win was the warming Phillies’ fourth in a row, matching a season high. All have come on this homestand and have coincided with the dismissal of John Mallee as hitting coach. Former skipper Charlie Manuel has stepped in as hitting coach. He has been in the dugout for three games, all wins, and the Phils have combined for 35 hits, including seven homers, and 26 runs in those contests.

Friday night’s win left the Phillies at 64-58. They entered the day a game out of a wild-card playoff spot. There are 40 games remaining (see standings).

Harper does it again

Harper is carrying the Phillies. Twenty-four hours after his game-winning grand slam against the Cubs, he smacked a three-run homer to give the Phils a five-run lead in the sixth inning. He also had a shift-beating single and scored two runs. Harper has four homers in his last three games and seven homers and 17 RBIs in his last nine games.

For the season, he is up to 26 homers and 90 RBIs.

Realmuto does it again

It’s always good to have more than one hot bat in the lineup and J.T. Realmuto is doing the job along with Harper. Actually, he’s been doing it for a while. He had a homer, a double and a single and is hitting .313 (51 for 163) with 16 doubles, eight homers and 29 RBIs over his last 44 games.

Another injury for Quinn?

Roman Quinn has been improving over the last few weeks. He hit a big home run in the third inning. However, the oft-injured outfielder left the game in the ninth after appearing to hurt something in his leg. More on that later.

Vinny Velo's night

Phillies starter Vince Velasquez gave his club five strong innings out of the gate then, in rather typical fashion, struggled the third time through the Padres’ batting order. He gave up three runs in the sixth, got just one out in that frame and left leading, 5-3.

Velasquez used his fastball up in the zone and executed some breaking balls down in the zone in retiring 11 straight at one point. He showed some composure in getting out of a bases-loaded jam in the first inning. He threw 25 pitches in that inning, but managed some economy after that.

Velasquez will be an important guy for the pitching-challenged Phillies down the stretch. He’s made strides in the second half of the season and needs to continue his progress if the Phils are to make a run.

Good bullpen work

The Phillies’ bullpen picked up 3 2/3 innings and allowed just one run.

Vinny Velo, indeed

Velasquez threw 108 pitches and 74 of them were four-seam fastballs. The pitch averaged 93.9 mph, topped out at 95.7 and produced 11 swinging strikes.

Team officials want Velasquez to use his four-seamer the way he did in this one, often and up in the zone where hitters can’t catch up to it.

End of a good streak

Velasquez had registered 22 1/3 consecutive scoreless innings against the Padres in his career before giving up three runs in the sixth.

Hoskins gets a recovery day

Rhys Hoskins was an important base runner in the Phillies’ game-winning five-run rally in the ninth on Thursday night. On Friday night, he paid the price. He became that base runner Thursday when he was hit on the right hand by a pitch from Cubs’ reliever Pedro Strop. The hand was a little tender Friday so he was held out of the starting lineup, but was available for pinch-hitting duty or “to bang off the bench,” as manager Gabe Kapler said.

Hoskins was able to participate in pregame workouts and said he would be ready to start on Saturday night.

Another injury for Quinn?

Roman Quinn has been improving over the last few weeks. He hit a big home run in the third inning. However, the oft-injured outfielder left the game in the ninth inning after feeling tightness in his right groin while running out a ground ball. Quinn missed nearly two months with a strain of the same groin earlier this season.

“I just felt a little something running across the bag, same spot as the last time, but not as bad," Quinn said after the game. "Just a little stretch."

Worried?

“Not really," he said.

“We'll see how I feel in the morning and go from there. If I come in not feeling better, maybe we'll get an MRI.”

Dominance

The Phillies are 67-35 against the Padres since the start of the 2004 season, including 32-18 at Citizens Bank Park.

New reliever

Jared Hughes, picked up off waivers from Cincinnati on Thursday, is expected to join the club on Saturday. The Phillies will have to make a roster move.

Up next

Zach Eflin (7-11, 4.49) returns to the rotation on Saturday night. He will pitch against San Diego’s Dinelson Lamet (1-2, 3.86).

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Vince Velasquez, Zach Eflin and Gabe Kapler on a 15-inning Phillies loss we'll be talking about for years

Vince Velasquez, Zach Eflin and Gabe Kapler on a 15-inning Phillies loss we'll be talking about for years

When you're fighting for the playoffs, you should probably never find yourself in a situation where you have to use a position player to pitch two innings in a tie game, or a starting pitcher to man left field.

That happened to the Phillies Friday night in a 15-inning, 4-3 loss to the White Sox.

Vince Velasquez had been waiting a long time to show off the full scope of his athleticism. It has been evident in the way he fields his position on the mound and runs the bases, but Friday was an entirely different story.

As the meek offenses of the Phillies and White Sox continued to make outs and a tie game reached the 14th inning, the Phillies ran out of pitchers and extra men. Ranger Suarez, new to pitching out of the bullpen, could not get loose. Zach Eflin, also new to the bullpen, felt soreness in his triceps after completing two scoreless innings.

It left Phillies manager Gabe Kapler with limited options and he chose to pinch-run for Eflin with Velasquez after Eflin had reached base in the top of the 13th. As a result, Velasquez stayed in the game in left field and out came Roman Quinn, again, to pitch. Except this time it wasn't mop-up duty.

Quinn worked a scoreless 14th inning with a major assist (literally) from Velasquez. Playing left field for the first time since he was between 12 and 14 years old, Velasquez threw out Jose Abreu at the plate trying to score from second on a single. The throw was 94.7 mph.

In the 15th, Velasquez nearly made an even more impressive throw, firing another perfect strike from deep left field that was just barely late of nailing speedy Leury Garcia. The play was reviewed and Garcia got his hand just around the tag. On the next play, Velasquez made a diving catch to end the inning.

It was a surreal final hour at Citizens Bank Park but it did not result in a win. The Phillies' offense was anemic most of the night, with Rhys Hoskins, Bryce Harper, J.T. Realmuto and Scott Kingery combining to go 2 for 24 in the loss.

"It was a horses--- situation," Kapler said. "It sucked. But the boys fought, all the way through to the end. I really thought the team stepped up in a major way, with everything on the line. They played their asses off."

Phillies fans were left with many questions after the bizarre way the game ended.

Why didn't Velasquez just pitch? 

The answer was that Velasquez had thrown a bullpen session earlier in the day. Pitching was not an option after his 90-pitch effort Wednesday and the bullpen session Saturday.

When did Kapler know he was removing Eflin from the game? 

The answer was before Eflin even went to the plate in the 13th inning. Kapler pressed him to make sure he was feeling OK, and Eflin admitted to feeling soreness in his triceps. Remember, this is a guy who has been a starting pitcher for most of his life. This role, pitching multiple times per week, is new to him. The Phillies are not going to push Eflin, nor Suarez for that matter, because of how new they are to these roles.

"I didn't feel it was right to put him at risk," Kapler said of Eflin. "He had pitched a lot for us. He had given us a lot. At that point, given the amount of injuries that we've had recently, I thought it was best to protect our player even at the expense of using a position player to pitch."

Again, it highlights the Phillies' depth issues. They were playing with 24 players on this night because Hector Neris is serving a three-game suspension.

The Phillies almost got away with all of it, thanks to two perfect innings from Blake Parker and two perfect innings from Eflin. If the offense could have just come up with one big hit, so many of the late-game shenanigans could have been prevented.

"I’ve never really seen something like that before," said Jason Vargas, who pitched well, allowing two runs in 6⅓ innings in his Phillies debut. "We were pretty sure [Velasquez] threw out the second guy as well. To throw out somebody with a guy on the line and make two crazy throws and then make a crazy catch that the best outfielder would be proud to make in a big situation, the effort was more than there.

"A pretty crazy first day. I can’t say that I’ve seen a better effort given to try to win a ball game."

The effort was there, on the mound and in the field. Guys weren't trying to make outs at the plate, but for whatever reason, this Phillies offense just goes in the tank a few times every week. At one point in extra innings, the two teams went 24 consecutive batters without a hit.

The loss is what matters most because every game counts in the race for a wild-card spot. But Phillies fans have long memories and this game will probably be remembered most for Kapler’s decision-making and Velasquez's efforts in left field.

"Vince might be one of our best all-around players," Kapler said. "He's a freaky athlete. We knew that about him. If there was a silver lining tonight — nobody's going to want to hear it — but it was Vince Velasquez performing like a superstar athlete. And Roman Quinn basically doing anything you could possibly do on a baseball field. And, s---, let's point to those things. Because why not?"

There are reasons why not, but the Phillies report back to the ballpark in about 12 hours and can move past this incredibly strange Friday night with a win behind Aaron Nola Saturday.

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