Phillies

Cole Irvin celebrates Mother's Day with first major-league win and a ride in a laundry cart

Cole Irvin celebrates Mother's Day with first major-league win and a ride in a laundry cart

KANSAS CITY — Over the last 15 games, Phillies starting pitchers have a glistening 2.36 ERA.

The latest gem was turned in by a guy who has never thrown hard enough to excite the folks who put together those Top 10 prospect lists, a guy who simply gets out and wins ballgames.

There’s nothing sexy about that other than … it’s what pitching is all about.

Cole Irvin won another one Sunday afternoon. Thirteen years to the day after another lefty with the same first name beat the Cincinnati Reds in his big-league debut, Irvin beat the Kansas City Royals, 6-1, in his first big-league start (see observations). Cole Hamels pitched five shutout innings in his debut. Irvin delivered seven innings of one-run ball as the Phils finished a 4-2 road trip and headed home seven games over .500, in first place in the NL East, and ready for a demanding 20-game stretch that will feature tests against some of the best clubs in the league.

“Man, that was fun,” Irvin said of his performance, witnessed in person by a couple of dozen friends and family members who had come in from the West Coast.

Irvin, 25, was the Phillies’ fifth-round pick out of the University of Oregon in the 2016 draft. Without a high-octane fastball, he relies on mixing a deep repertoire of pitches and throwing strikes. That approach helped him go 16-4 with a 2.50 ERA at Triple A since the start of the 2018 season and it helped him beat the Royals on Sunday. He scattered five hits, walked one and struck out five. He took control of at-bats by throwing a first-pitch strike to 22 of 27 batters.

“He did a great job mixing speeds,” catcher J.T. Realmuto said. “He kept them off balance the whole time. He attacked hitters, got ahead of guys. He had a good mix of pitches. Can't ask for much more out of the guy than that.

“Five minutes before the game, he was just chatting it up, smiling. He didn't seem too nervous at all, which is pretty comforting from my end knowing that it's just another game for him. That's how he treated it.”

Irvin said he was more nervous when he joined the team after scheduled starter Vince Velasquez (sore elbow) went on the injured list Saturday. Irvin got word of his promotion in the wee hours of the morning and flew to Kansas City on two hours sleep. He was well rested for Sunday’s start.

“I slept like a rock last night because I didn’t have any sleep the night before,” he joked.

Irvin was supported by six runs in the fifth inning. The Phils lost the first game of the series, 5-1, then won the next two by a combined score of 13-1. Starting pitching was spectacular in those two games. Zach Eflin preceded Irvin’s gem with a shutout Saturday night.

“Cole did a great job just attacking the strike zone and inducing weak contact,” manager Gabe Kapler said. “He had a crisp pace and it was just enormous for him to give our bullpen just one more day to get ready for that Milwaukee series.”

The Phils host the high-flying Brewers for four games beginning Monday night. Irvin lines up to pitch again Friday night at home in the series opener against Colorado.

Also during the 20-game stretch, the Phils will see the Cubs, Dodgers, Rockies, Cardinals and Brewers again. It's a good chance to see how the Phils stack up against some other top teams in the league, right?

"I don’t know that we’re looking to see how we stack up against teams," Kapler said. "We're just looking to beat them."

After Irvin won his debut on Sunday, his teammates celebrated by placing him in a laundry cart, wheeling him into the shower and dousing him with cold beer. Irvin actually had to shower and put his uniform back on to go out to the field to pose for a picture with family and friends. His mom, Sandy, was in town from Oregon. It was an unforgettable Mother’s Day for her and her son.

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No jitters for Bryce Harper, just an RBI, a stolen base and a little 'glam'

No jitters for Bryce Harper, just an RBI, a stolen base and a little 'glam'

CLEARWATER, Fla. — Everybody's stomach is a little different.

So while Jake Arrieta had a few butterflies before his first start of the spring Tuesday, Bryce Harper's pulse barely quickened.

"Kind of the opposite," Harper said, comparing the feel of his spring debut to Arrieta's. "Spring training is kind of spring training. I don't want to get too high or anything like that. I just want to get out there, stay healthy and compete. When I get to opening day, there's your jitters."

Harper played five innings in right field. He came to the plate three times. He drove home a run with a sacrifice fly in his first at-bat and later walked and struck out. He also stole a base.

What a difference a year makes. Last year at this time, Harper was still a free agent, mulling offers from the Phillies, Giants and Dodgers. He chose the Phillies on the final day of February and camp exploded with excitement. Back in Philadelphia, the team sold 180,000 tickets within 48 hours of Harper's agreement with the team.

This year, things are a lot different for Harper. He has become a dad. And his hair is a lot longer.

"I'm going to keep it going," he said. "Yeah, keep it flowing. Why not? We'll see what happens."

Harper, of course, isn't the only one in camp with a new look. His pal, the Phanatic, unveiled his on Sunday.

"Hey, man, everybody needs a glam-up sometimes, you know?" Harper said. "Why not? I've got long hair right now. I'm always changing."

The general atmosphere around camp is also different than it was a year ago. Though there's a real sense of faith that the Phillies will improve under new manager Joe Girardi, there's none of the euphoric buzz that accompanied Harper's signing. The attendance for Tuesday's game against Toronto in Clearwater was just 4,004. It was a split-squad game for both teams.

Harper is OK with a calmer spring.

"It's definitely different coming into camp," he said. "It's good knowing I'll be here the next 12 years, a lot more calm, not as crazy, not as many cameras. I'll enjoy that and just get ready for the season."

Harper's spring goal:

"Just be healthy," he said. "Take good routes in the outfield, throw the ball well out there, have good at-bats."

Haseley in protocol

Centerfielder Adam Haseley left the game in Clearwater after hitting his face hard on the ground while attempting a diving catch. Haseley suffered a cut on his forehead, caused by his sunglasses. He was seen walking and talking in the clubhouse after the game but was unavailable for comment to reporters because he had been placed in concussion protocol. His condition will be updated on Wednesday.

The games

Arrieta gave up a single, a walk and a three-run homer in the first inning, but he enjoyed a quick second inning. He admitted to some nerves in the first inning but settled in after that. At this point of camp, all that matters with a starting pitcher is health and Arrieta feels good after having his elbow surgically cleaned out late last season.

The Phillies won the Clearwater game, 13-6, with the help of minor-leaguer Jhailyn Ortiz' grand slam. The Phillies signed Ortiz for $4 million as a 16-year-old out of the Dominican Republic in July 2015. He hit just .200 at Single A Clearwater last season but had 19 homers and 65 RBIs in 430 at-bats.

Catcher J.T. Realmuto gunned down a runner trying to steal second base from his knees.

In Bradenton, the Phils beat the Pirates, 6-2. Lefties Ranger Suarez and Damon Jones both pitched two scoreless innings. 

The victories left the Phillies at 4-0-1 in exhibition play.

Zach Eflin starts Wednesday against the Twins in Fort Myers.

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Phillies Talk podcast: Can Roman Quinn change complexion of Phillies' lineup?

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Phillies Talk podcast: Can Roman Quinn change complexion of Phillies' lineup?

Joe Girardi is already impressed by Roman Quinn, who could significantly alter the Phillies' lineup if he can win the CF job. Ricky Bottalico and Corey Seidman discussed on Tuesday's Phillies Talk podcast.

• How Roman Quinn could change the complexion of the lineup.

• Can Andrew McCutchen be an effective leadoff man if the knee forces him to go station to station?

• How much a fast runner can mess with a pitcher's head.

• Phillies pitchers making clear (without saying it) what they thought of Chris Young and Gabe Kapler.

• Whose side are you on with the Phanatic lawsuit?

• Expectations for Scott Kingery in Year 3.

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