Phillies

Game 1 Monday shows why Phillies need help on the bench

Game 1 Monday shows why Phillies need help on the bench

NEW YORK — The Phillies need at least one more bat.

Monday's extra-inning loss in Game 1 of the Phils' doubleheader vs. the Mets can be attributed to several things (see first take), but the lack of punch off the bench was what stuck out most.

Aaron Altherr pinch-hit for Zach Eflin in the sixth inning and grounded into a double play. The Phils have just a four-man bench and were not about to use Jorge Alfaro in a pinch-hitting spot in Game 1 of a doubleheader, so that effectively left Gabe Kapler with just Jesmuel Valentin and Dylan Cozens.

Both failed to come through in a high-leverage spot. Valentin pinch-hit with one out after the Phillies loaded the bases on walks in the eighth inning. After working a full count, he struck out.

Two innings later, the Phillies put the first two men on base before Cozens ultimately pinch-hit with two outs. He struck out swinging on a 2-2 pitch.

All the Phils needed in the eighth inning was a medium-deep fly ball. All they needed in the 10th was a bloop hit. Valentin isn't exactly the type to drive the ball consistently, at least not yet at the major-league level. Cozens' penchant for swinging and missing is well-documented.

A month or two from now, the Phillies will likely have better bench options because they should be able to add a piece or two ahead of either the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline, the Aug. 31 waiver trade deadline or both.

Kapler reaffirmed his confidence in his bench players after the Game 1 loss, making note of Valentin's clutchness earlier this season. 

"I believe in all of our players," the manager said. "I will continue to believe in our players. We've had some big at-bats from Val and some big hits. He's actually won us some games with some big clutch hitting."

Indeed, Valentin helped the Phillies win a game on June 23 when he untied things against the Nationals with a seventh-inning sac fly. It's not that he's an incapable player, he's just not the ideal second man off the bench for a contending team.

The Franco factor
The Phillies have been connected to several hitters on the trade market. Acquiring someone like Manny Machado, Mike Moustakas or Adrian Beltre could push Maikel Franco to the bench if he's not also moved. That would be one way to upgrade the bench.

Franco, by the way, is up to .273/.320/.458 on the season after a hot few weeks. As crazy as this sounds, he's three points behind Odubel Herrera for the team lead in batting average.

Franco has thrived since moving to the eight-hole. In six games since Kapler moved him down, Franco has gone 9 for 19 with a double, a homer and three walks. It's prompted some to call for Franco to move back up in the order, but Kapler likes the current setup.

"I really like him in that spot," Kapler said. "I like that he's kind of forced to be patient with the pitcher behind him. He's not always going to get something to hit early in the count. Sometimes, they are going to be considering the fact that the pitcher is behind him. And so, therefore, they are going to force him to see the ball a little bit longer. And I'm not saying one thing has led to the other. I just kind of like him there and we'll see how this works going forward."

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Phillies 7, Dodgers 6: Bryce Harper, Rhys Hoskins lead rally and Phillies' split vs. best team in baseball

ap_bryce_harper_phillies.jpg
AP Images/Matt Slocum

Phillies 7, Dodgers 6: Bryce Harper, Rhys Hoskins lead rally and Phillies' split vs. best team in baseball

BOX SCORE 

Would you take a split against the best team in baseball?

Sure, you would.

The Phillies got one against the Dodgers.

They rallied for four runs in the bottom of the seventh inning to win the finale of the four-game series against the Dodgers, 7-6, Thursday afternoon at rainy, muggy Citizens Bank Park.

The fans have not given up on the Phillies. A crowd of 38,043 sat through a lot of rain and showed the team a lot of support.

Starter Aaron Nola struggled, but the bats and bullpen bailed him out. Phillies pitching gave up four homers, but survived.

The Phils are 50-47.

Decisive rally

The Phillies trailed, 5-3, entering the seventh inning. Their four-run rally started when Dodgers’ reliever Caleb Ferguson hit a batter and walked a batter with no outs. Jean Segura then drove in a run with a one-out single against Dylan Floro. The Dodgers went to right-hander Joe Kelly and he allowed a game-tying RBI single to Bryce Harper and a two-run single to Rhys Hoskins as the Phillies took the lead.

(Mostly) strong relief

The Phillies’ bullpen allowed two runs in four innings. Rookie Ranger Suarez continued to open eyes. Adam Morgan delivered in the eighth and Hector Neris survived a ninth-inning homer for the save.

Big series for Bryce

Harper, who entered the game hitting .303 over his previous 21 games, singled, doubled and had a sacrifice fly.

He had a very nice series with three two-hit games. He had three doubles and drove in seven runs.

He needs to keep producing big if the Phillies have any chance at the postseason.

Nola’s day

The right-hander was not nearly as good as he’d been over the previous month. He struggled with his command of the strike zone and was hit hard. He gave up five hits and four runs over five innings. It was his shortest outing since June 15 at Atlanta.

Four of the five hits that Nola gave up were for extra bases, including three homers. Matt Beaty and Kike Hernandez hit back-to-back shots in the second and Hernandez smacked a two-run homer that barely cleared the leftfield wall in the fourth as the Dodgers took a 4-3 lead.

Nola had a given up just two homers in his previous five starts. He had allowed just three earned over 35 2/3 innings over that span.

Big defense

The Phillies made a couple of important defensive gems early in the game.

Hoskins, playing in tight with runners on the corners and two outs in the third inning, made a brilliant reaction play on a scorcher off the bat of Cody Bellinger to get Nola out of trouble.

An inning later, centerfielder Scott Kingery made a long run and leaping grab at the wall in right-center to take away extra bases from Austin Barnes.

Transactions

The Phillies added a pair of relievers, Cole Irvin and Fernando Salas, from Triple A before the game. Relievers Austin Davis and Edgar Garcia were sent back to Triple A.

Up next

The Phils begin a three-game series against the Pirates in Pittsburgh on Friday night. Jake Arrieta (8-7, 4.54) pitches the opener against right-hander Jordan Lyles (5-6, 5.16).

Zach Eflin (7-9, 4.16) opposes RHP Trevor Williams (3-3, 5.17) on Saturday night.

Vince Velasquez (2-5, 4.87) faces RHP Joe Musgrove (6-8, 4.31) in the series finale Sunday afternoon.

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Dodgers 7, Phillies 2: Phillies wait out 3 hours of rain only to finish with 2 hits in lifeless loss to Dodgers

Dodgers 7, Phillies 2: Phillies wait out 3 hours of rain only to finish with 2 hits in lifeless loss to Dodgers

BOX SCORE

The Phillies and Dodgers waited out a rain delay of 2 hours and 37 minutes before finally resuming the top of the third inning Wednesday night.

And after the long, long, long wait ... the Phillies lost 7-2.

There wasn't much Phillies offense to speak of. They had two hits, one in the ninth inning. It probably should not have been a surprise that they couldn't muster more offense given their lineup. It was their least impressive batting order of the season, with Brad Miller, Adam Haseley, Nick Williams and Andrew Knapp occupying spots 5 through 8. Still ... two hits.

"Rain delays are always tough," said Scott Kingery, who had the Phillies' lone hit until the ninth. "Once you start the game, adrenaline's going and then you come back in here and sit around for a few hours. You've got to do the best you can to get it going again, get your body moving. ... Just a tough night."

David Freese had the key blow for the Dodgers, a two-run, opposite-field homer off Juan Nicasio in the seventh. It came two innings after a fan yelled "Freese, you look like my Uber driver," which was kind of funny. 

The Phillies had just tied the game the previous half-inning on a bases-loaded walk by Miller and an RBI groundout from Haseley. Both runs were unearned as the Phillies benefitted from Max Muncy's shaky defense at third base.

Justin Turner doubled the Dodgers' lead with a pinch-hit two-run home run off Austin Davis in the eighth.

Nick Pivetta started the game and allowed a first-inning run after walking the bases loaded. Control issues for Phillies pitchers didn't end there — they walked 10 Dodgers and hit two more on the night.

The Phillies (49-47) don't have much time to rest. Thursday's series finale — on YouTube only — begins at 12:35 p.m.

"I don't even think we have time to be disappointed," manager Gabe Kapler said. "We have to be back here pretty early in the morning with (Aaron) Nola on the mound and a rested bullpen in terms of our guys that we're leaning on in leverage innings.

"We feel good about tomorrow. Anxious to get back to the ballpark and wipe off tonight."

Can't find the zone

Reliever Edgar Garcia, who continues to struggle, has thrown a frustratingly low number of strikes lately. On Monday, he entered the game with the Phillies down by 11 runs and walked three batters. If ever there is a time to go right at hitters, it is then. 

On Wednesday, 15 of his 29 pitches were balls and he fell behind reliever Julio Urias before allowing an RBI single up the middle to him in the sixth inning.

Garcia is one of three Phillies relievers who probably shouldn't be in the major leagues right now but is here out of necessity. Outings like this do not inspire confidence. It wouldn't be surprising if the Phillies sent him down Thursday or Friday to bring up a fresh arm.

Garcia has a 6.15 ERA and 1.71 WHIP in 27 appearances.

Segura returns

Jean Segura popped out as a pinch-hitter Wednesday night. He will be in Thursday's lineup after missing much of the last two games with a bruised heel.

Not a strong showing from Williams

In his first game back with the Phillies, Williams looked out of sorts at the plate, grounding out softly twice and expanding the zone multiple times in a strikeout against right-handed reliever Pedro Baez.

Williams had hit .345 at Triple A but just has not gotten going at the big-league level this season. He'll have an opportunity to play over the next few weeks with Jay Bruce on the injured list with a strained oblique.

Williams is behind Haseley on the outfield depth chart, though.

Up next

The four-game series concludes Thursday afternoon at 12:35, and then the Phillies hit the road for three games this weekend in Pittsburgh. They're off Monday, then play in two in Detroit before coming back to Philly for an eight-game homestand against the Braves, Giants and White Sox. 

Aaron Nola (8-2, 3.63) opposes Ross Stripling (4-3, 3.65) on Thursday.