Phillies

Offense backs Enyel De Los Santos' solid debut in Phillies' win over Mets

Offense backs Enyel De Los Santos' solid debut in Phillies' win over Mets

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NEW YORK — The bottom of the Phillies’ batting order came through in a big way Tuesday night.

Maikel Franco, hitting in the No. 8 spot, drove in four runs with a three-run homer and an RBI single to lead the Phillies to a 7-3 win over the New York Mets at Citi Field.

The Phillies’ No. 9 hitter also had a big night, though not with the bat.

Enyel De Los Santos earned the pitching victory in his major-league debut. The 22-year-old right-hander from the Dominican Republic delivered 6 1/3 innings and allowed three runs. He gave up five hits, including a pair of triples and a double, walked three and struck out six. His fastball averaged 93 mph and topped out at 97.

De Los Santos was acquired in the December trade that sent shortstop Freddy Galvis to the San Diego Padres. He had been called up from Triple A Lehigh Valley earlier in the day to make a spot start as the Phillies needed an extra arm after playing a doubleheader on Monday.

De Los Santos was 9-3 with a 1.89 ERA in 16 starts at Lehigh Valley before his promotion. He was sent right back to Triple A as the Phillies needed to make room for Vince Velasquez to come off the disabled list and pitch on Wednesday night. But De Los Santos will leave having made a good impression and is just a phone call away should a need arise. Had the Phillies not needed De Los Santos in this game, he would have pitched in the Triple A All-Star Game on Wednesday night.

The Phillies entered the game tied for first place in the NL East with Atlanta. The victory was the Phillies’ 10th in the last 13 games and improved them to 51-39 while the Mets sagged to 36-53. And that after an 11-1 start.

Franco continued to swing a hot bat even as he remains firmly on the trading block. Manager Gabe Kapler dropped him to the eighth spot in the batting order eight games ago. Since then, Franco is 11 for 25 with a double, two homers, three walks and seven RBIs.

The Mets also used a pitcher making his major-league debut. Franco welcomed Drew Gagnon to the majors with a three-run homer in the second inning. Franco did a good job staying back on a hanging, 80-mph curveball. In the sixth inning, Franco stroked an RBI single up the middle. In between, the Phillies got a two-run single from Nick Williams in the third and a solo home run from Odubel Herrera — his career-high 16th — in the fifth.

Williams had three hits and is 9 for 22 in six games on the road trip.

There was a scary moment in the bottom of the third inning when Rhys Hoskins ran face-first into the left-field wall trying to make a play on what ended up as a triple by Amed Rosario. Hoskins went down in a heap and Kapler and athletic trainer Scott Sheridan ran out to tend to him. But Hoskins quickly sent them back to the dugout. He gave the bench a thumbs-up and stayed in the game.

Hoskins had three singles in the game. The Phillies out-hit the Mets, 13-7.

The Phillies added veteran Trevor Plouffe from Triple A before the game and he contributed a pinch-hit single in the eighth.

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Phillies outfielder Jay Bruce honors a friend on his back and in his heart

Phillies outfielder Jay Bruce honors a friend on his back and in his heart

CLEARWATER, Fla. – As kids, they rode their bikes to each other’s houses. They played Little League and high school ball together.

As adults, they hunted and fished together, always washing it down with a cold beer and a few laughs.

Jay Bruce and Justin Hoose were boys, as the saying goes.

“We started playing together in tee ball,” Bruce said. “And we were always close. I had my first sleepover at his house. Toothpaste in the ear, shaving cream, you name it, we did it. He was the first person I ever ding-dong-ditched with. 

“We did everything together. And regardless of whether you wanted to have fun or wanted to laugh or wanted to have a good time, when he came around you were going to do all of those things.”

The phone call came in December when Bruce was in Idaho picking up a hunting dog. Back home in Beaumont, Texas, his lifelong friend Justin had been hospitalized with a sudden and serious illness. A few days later, he was gone, way too young at the age of 32.

“It floored me,” Bruce said. “We have a tight group of friends from high school and it floored all of us. It still stings. I still can’t believe it. It’s something no one would have imagined.

“I always believed we’d one day be old men talking (crap) on each other and then …

“It’s really made me understand and realize that life is precious and can be taken from you so quickly and to just love the people you’re close with.”

Justin loved the Dallas Cowboys so much that friends were encouraged to wear Cowboys’ colors to his memorial service. A few years ago, Bruce arranged for sideline passes at a Cowboys game.

“We had a blast,” he said.

In 12 seasons as a major league outfielder, Bruce has played in Cincinnati, Cleveland, New York, Seattle and Philadelphia. Justin supported his friend, and rooted like crazy for him, in every one of these towns.

So, as Bruce prepared for spring training this year, he decided to do something for the old friend that supported him so much. He phoned Phillies equipment man Phil Sheridan and asked if he could change his number from 23 to 9. That was the number Justin wore when they were teammates on the baseball team at West Brook High School in Beaumont.

Changing numbers in the big leagues is not as easy as it sounds. In fact, it requires league approval. Merchandisers often object because they have existing stock with the player’s number already on it. But everything lined up favorably for Bruce because he’d only been a Phillie for a few months after being traded from Seattle last season.

“I got here in June so there’s not a lot of stuff out there,” he said. “But if there was merchandise out there, I would have been willing to buy it to do this.”

There aren’t many Bruce jerseys with No. 9 on them in the merchandise stores yet. But there is another one out there. Before he left for spring training, Bruce, a husband and father of two young sons, made sure to order one for Joseph Hoose, the 10-year-son of his old pal Justin.

Bruce took batting practice with his new number on his back Tuesday and felt as if his old friend was looking down on him.

“Justin was special,” Jay Bruce said through misty eyes. “He was an incredible person. Wearing this number doesn’t fully honor who he was a person, but it brings a little bit of him with me.”

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Which of these Phillies batting orders do you like better?

Which of these Phillies batting orders do you like better?

The Phillies have 32 spring training games to figure out which infield alignment makes the most sense, who the opening day centerfielder will be and how the batting order shakes out. 

On yesterday’s Phillies Talk podcast, Ricky Bottalico and I discussed how much batting order flexibility the addition of Didi Gregorius gives Joe Girardi. Gregorius can really bat anywhere between first and fifth. 

This was Ricky’s batting order:

  1. Andrew McCutchen, LF
  2. Didi Gregorius, SS (L)
  3. Bryce Harper, RF (L)
  4. Rhys Hoskins, 1B
  5. J.T. Realmuto, C
  6. Jean Segura, 2B
  7. Scott Kingery, 3B
  8. Adam Haseley, CF (L)

And here was mine:

  1. Andrew McCutchen, LF
  2. Bryce Harper, RF (L)
  3. J.T. Realmuto, C
  4. Rhys Hoskins, 1B
  5. Didi Gregorius, SS (L)
  6. Jean Segura, 2B
  7. Scott Kingery, 3B
  8. Adam Haseley, CF (L)

We will have to wait and see how much the new three-batter rule for relievers affects lineup construction, if at all. It could prompt managers to focus more on splitting up their lefties, which was the idea behind my splitting up Harper and Didi. 

Another option the Phils could go with is McCutchen and Segura at the top, where they were early last season. Forgotten in the totality of Segura’s disappointing first season as a Phillie is that he was hitting .330 in mid-May and his production didn’t crater until right around the time he didn’t hustle out the ball in San Diego, leading to the rundown in which McCutchen tore his ACL. Segura spoke this week about how much that ordeal weighed on him last summer. 

What’s your ideal Phillies batting order?

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