Phillies

Phillies 9, Marlins 1: Jake Arrieta notches 100th career win, offense back to mashing

Phillies 9, Marlins 1: Jake Arrieta notches 100th career win, offense back to mashing

BOX SCORE 

MIAMI — A former National League MVP and a former NL Cy Young Award winner both came up big for the Phillies on Friday night.

Andrew McCutchen ignited a five-run rally in the third inning and later clubbed a three-run home run and Jake Arrieta pitched seven innings of one-run ball to lead the Phillies past the lowly Miami Marlins, 9-1.

The win snapped a two-game losing streak for the Phillies, who were held to just three singles in a 15-1 loss to Washington on Wednesday night. The Phils erupted for 14 hits in this one.

The victory improved the Phillies to 8-4. Miami is 3-11.

The keys

• The Phils strung together six straight one-out hits and scored five times in the third inning. McCutchen started it off with a single and aggressively moved to third on a base hit to left by Jean Segura.

• The Marlins came into the game scoring 2.62 runs per game, 29th in the majors, and hitting a paltry .215. Arrieta did just what a pitcher is supposed to do against a weak-hitting team: He attacked the strike zone. Seventy-six of the 108 pitches he threw were strikes.

• The rebuilding Marlins had the worst record in the NL last season, but they won six of nine against the Phillies in Miami. Friday night’s starter, Sandy Alcantara, pitched seven shutout innings in beating the Phillies in September. Though young, the Marlins have some young talent in their rotation. It was a good sign that the Phils came in and asserted some dominance over the Marlins in the teams’ first meeting of the season.

A milestone

The win was the 100th of Arrieta’s career. He gave up five hits, walked one and struck out eight. He had a three-hit shutout going until the seventh.

Sights and sounds

A smattering of fans behind home plate chanted “Overrated … Overrated” each time Bryce Harper came to the plate. Harper answered with singles in his first two at-bats. His hit in the third drove in the Phils’ first run. He just missed a gapper in the sixth. Leftfielder Rosell Herrera made a nice diving catch.

The Marlins ditched the lime green colored outfield walls for navy blue. They also got rid of the gaudy home run sculpture that used to loom over center field.

Plenty of empty seats remain. In fact, a foul ball landed in the upper deck and it will probably still be there when the Phillies return in late June.

Transaction

The Phils sent reliever Edubray Ramos to the minors and recalled reliever Victor Arano. Arano pitched two scoreless innings.

Homecoming

J.T. Realmuto, drafted and developed by the Marlins before being traded to the Phillies in February, returned to Miami for the first time since the deal. He had a pair of singles and an RBI.

The Phillies sent three players to the Marlins for Realmuto.

Jorge Alfaro is the Marlins’ starting catcher in the big leagues.

The Marlins took it slow with right-hander Sixto Sanchez after he missed time with an elbow injury last season. He has been on a throwing program in extended spring training and is scheduled to make his season debut April 26 for Double A Jacksonville.

Lefty Will Stewart is pitching for Single A Jupiter in the Florida State League. He pitched a gem against Lakeland on Friday night — 7 2/3 scoreless innings. He gave up one hit, one walk and struck out seven.

Up next

The Phillies and Marlins play again Saturday night. Game time is 6:10.

Zach Eflin looks to continue his strong start. He will pitch against lefty Caleb Smith.

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Joe Girardi impressed with Jean Segura, smitten with Phillies catching prospect Rafael Marchan

Joe Girardi impressed with Jean Segura, smitten with Phillies catching prospect Rafael Marchan

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Six games into the exhibition schedule, Joe Girardi is really liking what he sees of two players.

One might end up being his third baseman this season.

The other will play in the low minors.

Jean Segura played well at third base in the Phillies’ 5-4 win over the Minnesota Twins on Wednesday. He made a nifty backhand stop of a ball off the bat of Nelson Cruz to start a 5-4-3 double play in the first inning. He also had a pair of hits, including a double. He is 4 for 9 with two doubles in the early going.

“Jean had a really good day,” Girardi said. “That (double play) was not an easy play. What I like is it’s smooth, it’s not panicky. Looks like he’s been doing it.”

The Phillies are evaluating Segura’s ability to play third base. They are also taking stock of his comfort level at the position because he has never played there before. If Segura can handle third base, he will open the season there and Scott Kingery will play second base, his best position.

So far this spring, Segura has played three games at third base. If he continues to look good there, would the Phillies even bother to look at him at second, where he does have experience, this spring?

“That’s a conversation we’d have in a week or so,” Girardi said. “We have to continue to see what it looks like. Scott looks good at second. If Jean looks comfortable at third and it seems like Didi and him have a good thing going there, we might just leave him. I don’t know. It’s too early.”

Segura played shortstop for the Phillies last season. He is moving from that position to make room for Didi Gregorius, who signed a one-year, $14 million contract in December.

CATCHING THE BOSS’ EYE

Girardi, who caught for 15 seasons in the big leagues, has become smitten with Rafael Marchan, a catching prospect from Venezuela who turned 21 on Tuesday.

“The kid does a lot of things right,” said Girardi.

Marchan has gotten a chance to play in big-league camp because Andrew Knapp (oblique) and Deivy Grullon (tooth infection) have missed some time.

Phillies officials felt comfortable enough with Marchan’s defense to give him the start with Zach Eflin on the mound Wednesday. Marchan responded with two hits and was praised for his work behind the plate by Eflin. Marchan had one miscue -- he overran a high, spinning pop up -- but Girardi chalked that up to inexperience.

“I told him, ‘You finally made a mistake -- the pop up,’“ Girardi said with a laugh. “He just went after it too quickly.”

Girardi called Marchan “a master” blocker of balls in the dirt earlier this week.

Marchan is a 5-foot-9 switch-hitter. He was a shortstop until he started working out for teams as a catcher in 2015 and the Phillies signed him for $200,000. He has played 136 professional games in Single A the last two seasons and hit .285. He has yet to hit a homer in pro ball, but that doesn’t concern Girardi.

“Here’s my thought,” Girardi said. “He doesn’t have to show power. He just has to hit, be an adequate hitter, or he could become a really good hitter. Take his walks, handle the bat. Defensively, he’s going to save you runs by catching. Those are RBIs for me. He’s going to save you a lot of runs catching.”

Marchan went unselected in the Rule 5 draft in December, not surprising because of his age, experience level and still-developing bat. But if he has a good year in 2020, he might not get through the draft.

Girardi thinks Marchan can develop into a big-leaguer, much like another converted infielder once did with the Phillies.

“I’m not comparing here, but Carlos Ruiz was not a great hitter when he first came up,” Girardi said. “He’s got talent and you hope he figures out the bat part of it because if he does, you have something really special.”

That’s high praise.

HEALTH CHECK

Girardi said Adam Haseley checked out fine in concussion protocol but would not return to action for another day or two. Haseley banged his head on the ground attempting a diving catch on Tuesday.

Outfielder Matt Szczur has yet to play because of a hamstring injury. Reliever Robert Stock has forearm pain and will be examined on Thursday.

UP NEXT

The Phillies play the Red Sox in Fort Myers on Thursday. Nick Pivetta will start.

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Outs are precious and Phillies pitcher Zach Eflin will get them his way in 2020

Outs are precious and Phillies pitcher Zach Eflin will get them his way in 2020

FORT MYERS, Fla. — It was just one pitch in the first inning of an exhibition game Wednesday, but it painted a vivid picture of who Zach Eflin was as a pitcher last year and who he wants to be this year.

With a man on first base and one out, Eflin was facing Nelson Cruz. The Minnesota Twins’ designated hitter is one of the most dangerous power hitters in the game, having averaged 34 homers over the last 11 seasons.

The count went full on Cruz and Eflin didn’t hesitate. He went to his best pitch, the sinking fastball. Cruz beat a hard ground ball to third and Jean Segura made a nice backhand play to start a 5-4-3 double play to end the frame.

“I was pretty excited about that,” Eflin said later. “Going back to my sinker. It’s a situation where I need to throw it.”

Eflin was asked what pitch he would have thrown in that situation last season.

“Ah, last year, maybe fastball at the top of the zone,” he said. “Maybe I would have tried to rip a hard cutter or slider. Something like that.”

The sinker has always been Eflin’s bread and butter pitch. But last season, under former manager Gabe Kapler and former pitching coach Chris Young, he was encouraged to emphasize four-seam, power fastballs at the top of the strike zone. He did have some success with the approach early in the season, but eventually lost his way and his spot in the rotation. After some soul searching and some counsel from teammates such as Jake Arrieta, Eflin decided that if he ever returned to the rotation he would go back to featuring his best pitch, a fastball with movement down in the zone. He returned to the rotation in mid-August, ironically when Arrieta went down with an elbow injury, and pitched well over the final weeks of the season to solidify his place this year's season-opening rotation.

“It’s not easy,” said Eflin, recalling last season’s struggles. “When you’re trying to be someone you’re not, it’s not the best way to go about it.

“At the end of the day, we want to feel as good as we can on the mound and when you’re trying to do something different, you don’t feel good.”

With each passing day, another pitcher seems to step up and offer thoughts about how wonderful life has been under new pitching coach Bryan Price in the first few weeks of camp. Price is open-minded to the new-school ways of pitching, but he’s committed to bringing back some old-school philosophies. He has stressed the down-and-away fastball. He has stressed that pitchers work to their strengths. For Eflin, that means the sinker.

“What everybody is focused on right now is being themselves and realizing what got us to the big leagues and taking advantage of doing what you’re good at, so I think that’s a huge step for everybody,” Eflin said. “I think the underlying factor is just being able to stay to our strengths and really just attacking the hitters, and for us starters to go as deep as we can in a game and really relieve the bullpen as much as we can so they’re fresh come the end of the season and playoffs. Just that being put in our heads as a starting staff is huge.”

Though the sinker is Eflin’s strength, he still has the power on his fastball to pitch occasionally at the top of the zone. In fact, it’s important that he do that occasionally to change a hitter’s eye level and prevent them from sitting on a particular pitch or location. Eflin knows this. He learned a lot about himself and pitching last year. That much was evident in the first inning of his spring debut Wednesday: Sinker, ground ball, double play.

“Outs are really precious in this game regardless of how hard they hit it, so just to be able to do that is good,” he said.

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