Phillies

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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The lights are dimming for Phillies after 5th straight loss with Aaron Nola on the mound

The lights are dimming for Phillies after 5th straight loss with Aaron Nola on the mound

If the Phillies are packing their bags and heading home in two weeks — as seems likely now — there will be a handful of reasons why they failed to make the playoffs for an eighth straight season.

Let’s see, they didn’t get enough from the two through five spots in the starting rotation, key players, from Andrew McCutchen to just about everyone in the bullpen, got hurt, management did not land a difference-making arm at the trade deadline, and the offense was grossly inconsistent.

There are other reasons but those are some of the biggies.

And if you’re looking for one more, this is a big one, too:

The Phillies are winless in Aaron Nola’s last five starts, a span that started August 25 in Miami and culminated Saturday night when the right-hander delivered seven innings of one-run ball only to see his team suffer a 2-1 loss to the Boston Red Sox in front of 40,688 at Citizens Bank Park.

The Phils have 15 games left.

They are 3 ½ games out of the second NL wild-card spot behind Milwaukee and the New York Mets. The Brewers are one game back, the Mets are three back. Oh, yeah, and the Phils are in fourth place in the NL East.

“I'm not going to sugarcoat it and say we have a bunch of time left because we really don't,” Nola said after the game. “We have 15 games left. It's a good bit, but it's really not that much. We're not going to hang our heads on this one. You never know what can happen. We just have to take care of business tomorrow.”

The Phillies will send Jason Vargas to the mound against Rick Porcello in the finale of the quick, two-game interleague series.

Phillies hitters will need to do more damage against Porcello than they did lefty Eduardo Rodriguez. He struck out 12 in 6 2/3 innings. He threw 105 pitches and got 19 —19 — swings-and-misses, 16 of them on an outstanding changeup.

The only run that Rodriguez allowed came in the bottom of the seventh when he issued a two-out walk to Maikel Franco with the bases loaded.

The Phillies had just five hits (four singles) on the night and were 0 for 5 with runners in scoring position. They got a runner to second with no outs in the eighth but Boston reliever Matt Barnes retired J.T. Realmuto, Rhys Hoskins and Scott Kingery to end the threat.

Hoskins put a charge in the ball to right-center, but it died in Jackie Bradley Jr.’s glove.

“I thought I got it enough to at least get it over his head,” Hoskins said.

Ultimately, the Phillies lost it when Hector Neris allowed two singles, a walk and a sacrifice fly in the ninth.

Hoskins acknowledged that the lights are dimming for the Phillies, who need to go at least 6-9 in their final 15 games to have a winning season.

“It’s go time, right?” he said. “Every loss feels heavier and every win feels a lot better. A big one tomorrow to obviously try to split a series, try to create some momentum to go on the road. We know the teams that we’re playing are good, but again I’ll just kind of reiterate: if we can play our game and obviously pitch the way we did tonight and hit the way we know we can we believe and are confident that we can beat anybody.”

Nola has pitched three gems and had two poor outings in his five-start winless streak. In the gems, the Phillies have just not scored runs for him. In this one, he gave up just four hits and struck out nine in seven innings.

“It's frustrating not winning in general, whoever is on the mound,” Nola said. “It was a hard-fought game right there. Every win matters right now.”

Nola’s next start is slated to be Thursday in Atlanta. Will the Phils even be worth mentioning in the race by then?

“We’ve got to find a way to scratch out runs for Nola,” manager Gabe Kapler said.



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Bryce Harper announces release of his latest Under Armour shoe, the Harper 4 trainer

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Bryce Harper Instagram

Bryce Harper announces release of his latest Under Armour shoe, the Harper 4 trainer

New drip alert!

Bryce Harper is well known for his heavy shoe swag on the field, from the sick Phillie Phanatic cleats he rocked on opening day to the Slurpee and Funyun jawns he brandished on Father’s Day.

On Friday, Harper announced the release of his latest shoe on his Instagram account, and these aren’t cleats. It’s a versatile edition to his signature Under Armour series.

The Harper 4 trainer is billed as a turf trainer, but in a video posted with the release of the shoe, Harper says, “I didn’t want it to be like a turf trainer, I really wanted it to be a trainer. Something that I could wear away from the field if I was going out to lunch or dinner or whatever and then something I could wear in the cage or at the workout facility or the gym.” 

They currently come in five colors (I’m partial to the black and white ones) and are more of a three-quarter shoe than a high top or low top. They currently retail for around $100.

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