Phillies

The Braves are how many games better than the Phillies the last two seasons? Oh, brother

The Braves are how many games better than the Phillies the last two seasons? Oh, brother

The Phillies are desperately trying to stay in the National League wild-card race and to do so they must rack up some quick wins against the Atlanta Braves.

Based on what happened Monday night, that could be a problem.

The Phillies and ace Aaron Nola were manhandled in a 7-2 loss to the Braves on Monday night.

That was the bad news.

Now, the really bad news:

Six of the Phillies’ next eight games are against the Braves, who have won 21 of their last 26 games and are up to 90 wins as they roll to their second straight NL East title.

That does not bode well for the Phillies' playoff chances.

Monday night’s loss came in the first game of a four-game series against the Braves. It dropped the Phillies to 2 ½ games back in the wild-card chase with 19 to play.

“Tomorrow we’ve got to compete again,” Nola said. “Anything can happen.”

Nothing good happened for the Phillies in this one. Actually, they didn’t make anything good happen. Nola allowed a homer, two doubles, two walks and four runs in the first two innings and Atlanta right-hander Mike Foltynewicz made it all stand up with seven dominant innings. He gave up just three hits (one was an infield hit) and a run, walked none and struck out six.

“I thought he was definitely different,” Bryce Harper said. “It wasn’t really that hard-throwing 98, 99 (mph). I thought he ‘pitched’ tonight and I thought he pitched pretty well. I thought we had some pitches that we could’ve drove and I especially did. That’s not good, missing pitches especially when they’re over the plate.

“I thought they came out swinging the bats well, especially against Nola. Not too many teams can do that against him. They scored four in the first couple innings and I thought we could’ve scratched and clawed the best we could and I thought we could’ve been a lot better tonight.”

The Phils have lost four straight times with Nola on the mound and that can't happen in a playoff race.

Despite Nola's struggling in two straight outings, manager Gabe Kapler said the right-hander would likely stay on a five-day rotation, meaning he'd pitch again on Saturday night against Boston.

"We probably want to get every start out of him that we possibly can," Kapler said. "He maintained his stuff throughout that outing and actually got stronger as the game went on. We have him lined up to make as many starts as possible because he's always our best option."

After adding Harper, J.T. Realmuto and others in the off-season, the Phillies were projected to compete with the Braves and Washington Nationals for the NL East title in 2019. Instead, those two teams are playoff bound (Washington is the NL wild-card leader) and the Phillies will need a miracle to avoid an eighth-straight season of missing the postseason. Heck, the Phillies need to go at least 8-11 to have their first winning season since 2011 and that won’t be easy with lots of Atlanta, Boston, Washington and Cleveland on the remaining schedule.

Over the last two seasons, the Braves are 25 games better than the Phillies. 

Twenty-five.

The Braves are loaded with young talent — 21-year-old Ronald Acuna Jr. led off Monday night’s game with his 38th homer — and that does not bode well for the Phillies even beyond this season.

“The young enthusiasm that they do have, the way they play the game, they take the extra bag, they work hard, they play hard, they play really good defense,” said Harper, rattling off some of the things that impress him about the Braves. “Their pitching is pretty dang good out of that bullpen. Now with (Tuesday night’s pitcher Max) Fried and Folty and a couple other guys on that staff, they’re pretty dang good. As a group, they come to play every single day and I think you can learn from a group like that.

“As a team, they’re the best in our division. They go out and play their game every single night. One through four right there, their gauntlet is pretty tough. I think they’re hitting on all cylinders right now and I think they have all year. We just have to go out there tomorrow, turn the page from today and try to go get Fried.”

The Phillies have been hit hard by injuries this season, particularly in the bullpen and at the top of the batting order where Andrew McCutchen has been a huge loss. But Harper would not use that as an excuse for the gulf that exists between the Braves and Phillies.

“You can talk about injuries or anything like that,” he said. “Or you can talk about our bullpen or timely hitting or things like that, not coming up big with a couple hits, especially myself. But all around, I think we have to play better baseball. There’s teams at this level who have had injuries and performed at a great level this year and there’s some teams who don’t have good pitching that are still there as well, and hitting. 

"I think as a club we just have to play better, be better as a team, and just keep going. If we get into that wild-card game, after that, nothing else matters.”

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MLB spring training 2020: Chronicling Phillies’ first workout live from Citizens Bank Park

MLB spring training 2020: Chronicling Phillies’ first workout live from Citizens Bank Park

Happy Fourth of July weekend!

Happy Baseball!

We're back at Citizens Bank Park on this picture-perfect Friday morning for the start (or restart) of Phillies training camp — three weeks of workouts and intrasquad games before the 60-game sprint-to-October commences later this month.

I started the morning in the garden, where I whipped up a fresh five-gallon batch of critter repellent. Red pepper flakes, cayenne, chili powder, dish detergent, milk, a few eggs, a whole head of garlic. Fill with water and let that stuff sit in the sun and get all funkalicious. Sprinkle some around the garden every night. Guaranteed to keep the deer away. Picked a zuke and a summer squash on my way out the door and headed for the ballpark — with a quick stop at Wawa for a 16-ounce cup of rocket fuel.

It's good to be back and I hope everyone stays healthy so we can see this thing through.

The goal here is to provide some live or semi-live observations throughout this first workout. Keep checking back for updates.

Here we go:

9:45 a.m. — I checked into CBP. Had my temperature taken through a face imaging device. 98.2. I signed a waiver. Good to go.

9:50 a.m. — Arrived in press box. Same great view of Center City. Field is green and gorgeous. Reporters are restricted from wandering so this is where I'll be observing from. Shoot. I forgot my binocs. 

10 a.m. — Matt Breen of the Philadelphia Inquirer arrives in press box. He is wearing shorts. Legs are quite unathletic and he has apparently been taking the quarantine seriously because he hasn't gotten much sun.

10:04 a.m. — The grounds crew has finished prepping the field. Music is playing over the PA system. The ball bags are on the field. The batting cage is out. 

10:05 a.m. — There is some action in the visiting dugout. A coach has popped his head out. For spacing reasons, both clubhouses are being utilized. 

10:15 a.m. — A grounds crew member is nailing the rubber spike scraper to the mound. 

10:16 a.m. — Black Smoke Rising by Greta Van Fleet is playing on the PA system. Hmm.

10:17 a.m. — Catching coach/bullpen catcher Bob Stumpo is heading out to the 'pen with a big equipment bag.

10:26 a.m. — Joe Girardi emerges briefly on the field. He's in shorts and a T-shirt, big cup of Joe in his hand. Yes, he is masked.

10:27 a.m. — The grounds crew is putting down tarps around the batting cage.

10:29 a.m. — Good to see Brookie.

10:30 a.m. — Robert Palmer's Addicted to Love is playing. Ah, the '80s.

10:40 a.m. — Nick Pivetta, Vince Velasquez and Zach Eflin pop out of the dugout. Looks like they're heading to the concourse for some conditioning work. The concourse is being used as a work area to ease overcrowding in the weight room.

10:45 a.m. — The view from teammate John Airport...

10:50 a.m. — Grounds crew is watering the infield dirt. So relaxing and mesmerizing. Anybody who's ever done it knows what I'm talking about. 

10:53 a.m. — Just noticed — only one flag flying in center field. The Stars and Stripes. No championship flags, state or city flag.

10:54 a.m.Andrew McCutchen just walked from the stands down into the dugout. He is masked. Looks like he's spent some time in the weight room.

11:04 a.m. — J.T. Realmuto and Andrew Knapp have taken the field and are loosening up their hoses.

11:06 a.m. — Several coaches — Dusty Wathan, Juan Castro, Bobby Meacham, Mike Calitri — are on the field playing catch. Distanced and masked. Not all players are wearing masks, but they are distanced.

11:07 a.m. — Just saw a fist bump. Call the cops.

11:15 p.m. — Batting practice commences. McCutchen, Realmuto and Knapp in the first group. Wathan is pitching. Jukebox Hero is playing over the PA. 

11:20 a.m. — McCutchen hits one into the left field seats.

11:22 a.m. — Realmuto hits one out to right-center.

11:23 a.m. — Jake Arrieta is walking through the outfield. He's doing some stretching. He's wearing a muscle shirt and looks ready to dent some skulls.

11:27 a.m. — Realmuto powers two in a row into the left field seats. Line drives. 

11:35 a.m. — First round of BP is complete. Standard fare.

11:36 a.m. — Realmuto and Knapp are putting the gear on. Looks like Arrieta is getting ready to throw a 'pen.

11:40 a.m. — Realmuto and Knapp are doing receiving drills with the aid of a pitching machine. Stealing low strikes. 

11:42 a.m. — McCutchen is long tossing. Interested to see how he moves in outfield drills, if they are on the docket.

11:43 a.m. — Realmuto and Knapp headed to the bullpen to catch Arrieta and I'm not sure who the other guy is. Players are not wearing numbers.

11:45 a.m. — Arrieta indeed set to throw a bullpen.

11:46 a.m. — McCutchen headed to left field for drills.

11:54 a.m. — McCutchen is taking fly balls in left. He looks a lot better than he did in March. Still detecting a slight hitch in his giddyup, but he looks to be on the right course with three weeks to prepare.

Noon — Phil Gosselin in the cage taking some hacks.

12:01 p.m. — Really could use a za.

12:03 p.m. — Adam Morgan and Vinny Velo are playing catch. There are extra catchers here.

12:12 p.m. — Some new artwork in the press box. Pretty cool. 

12:14 p.m. — Adam Morgan and Vinny Velo are throwing in the bullpen. A Josh Harrison sighting. Looks like Zach Eflin might be preparing to throw a 'pen.

12:16 p.m. — Rhys Hoskins appears for BP. Lotta hair.

12:17 p.m. — Phil Gosselin dons first baseman's mitt and takes ground balls at the position. Kinda interesting.

12:20 p.m. — Now playing: Pour Some Sugar on Me. One lump or two?

12:21 p.m. — Coaches/staff are wearing masks. Most players are not, at least on the field while doing drills. They are wearing them when they head to the concourse for conditioning, etc. There's a lot of action going on behind the scenes. 

12:26 p.m. — Bryce Harper is in the batting cage. He's wearing his No. 10 Realmuto T-shirt. Hoskins is hitting in this group, too. Jean Segura, too. I know that short stroke.

12:32 p.m. — Harper hits three bombs in five swings, one the opposite way.

12:35 p.m. — Segura is hitting with a mask on. One of the few players wearing one on the field.

12:54 p.m. — Roman Quinn sighting. He's headed up to the concourse with a bat in his hands. Must be a tee and a net up there. Again, it's out of my view.

12:55 p.m. — Hoskins, Segura and Josh Harrison getting in some infield work. Segura is at third. Hoskins at first. Harrison at second.

1 p.m. — Things seem to be winding down, at least in the early session. Hoping to chat with some of the participants in a little while. So we'll call this a wrap for now. Thanks for following along. Happy baseball, happy gardening, stay safe. And, Breen, get some sun on those legs.

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Andrew McCutchen thinks MLB 'backtracked quite a bit,' hopes lessons were learned from negotiations

Andrew McCutchen thinks MLB 'backtracked quite a bit,' hopes lessons were learned from negotiations

Andrew McCutchen had his screening for COVID-19 Wednesday at Citizens Bank Park and was back at the ballpark Friday as the Phillies had their first full-squad workout of summer camp.

He is feeling good, says the knee is strong and was glad, in a way, that he had so much more time to rehab coming off an ACL tear.

"I didn't get through the rehab process by just trying to get ready, I actually was able to take my time and really tinker with small things because there wasn't a season right away," the Phillies left fielder told NBC10's John Clark Thursday. "I was able to really take my time and hone in to my rehab process. It was really good for me to be able to do that. It set me up to be ready for the season. 

"Ultimately, I wasn't going to be playing 162 regular-season games anyway this year. Maybe I would have only missed 20 games during the regular season this year had all this stuff not happened, or maybe I would have had a period where (my knee) was barking for a week. 

"It may be better because I'm working out every day. I'm the opposite of some of those gym rat guys who go in the gym and do nothing but upper body. I was doing straight lower body every day I came to the stadium."

McCutchen was busy during baseball's shutdown between rehab, family time, keeping Uncle Larry in check and keeping up to date with MLB's negotiations with players. Those negotiations took far too long and sucked the joy out of the sport for many. 

McCutchen was bothered by how it all went down and was bothered again by commissioner Rob Manfred's comment earlier in the week that MLB wasn't ever going to play more than 60 regular-season games this season.

Manfred later clarified that he was referring to "the way things unfolded with the second spike" of coronavirus.

"All of the negotiations, it got in the way of what we wanted to do which was play baseball," McCutchen said. "I recently saw and heard the commissioner say that we were gonna be playing no more than 60 games regardless of the negotiations back and forth, that it didn't matter what we were doing. So my question to that was then why did we do it in the first place? Why did we damper and put a cancer into the game that didn't need to be there? 

"The integrity of this game was in a great place and we backtracked quite a bit. Just losing some of the fanbase in a sense just because we let the negotiations get in the way of the importance of actually trying to get out onto the field. It was a very tricky situation we were all in. I hate that it happened the way it did. We can learn from this situation. Nobody's perfect. Negotiations always happen. There's a way of going about it. Hopefully, this is something we all learn from."

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