Phillies

Phillies bats deliver for Charlie Manuel; now if they can do it 42 more times ...

Phillies bats deliver for Charlie Manuel; now if they can do it 42 more times ...

Charlie Manuel wanted them to have more fun.

And they did.

In the stands. On the field. In the dugout. It was that kind of night for the Phillies and their fans. The Phils got a terrific outing from their staff ace and 13 hits, including three homers, from the offense on their way to an 11-1 win over Cole Hamels and the Chicago Cubs on Wednesday night (see observations).

Abbondanza!

No.

Char-lie! … Char-lie! … Char-lie!

That’s what the fans were chanting on Manuel’s first night as the team’s (very successful so far) hitting coach.

“It was an incredible energy in the ballpark and rightfully so,” manager Gabe Kapler said. “Charlie has earned that kind of adulation over a long period of time. He certainly adds to that loose, relaxed vibe. He's laid-back. He believes in our hitters. I think he's going to make sure our hitters know that.

“Our hitters looked like they believed in themselves today. It's no surprise. Charlie’s a great influence on our group.”

J.T. Realmuto, hitting .305 (47 for 154) with 14 doubles, three triples, seven homers and 27 RBIs in 42 games since June 24, doubled and belted his second grand slam in less than a month.

He also gunned down a runner at second for the 26th time this season.

Bryce Harper had his second multi-homer game in the last week and drove in three runs. He has six homers and 11 RBIs in his last 11 games.

Harper had fun bonding with Manuel during spring training. He had more fun with Big Chuck after hitting his second homer of the game, a second-deck shot in the sixth inning.

“I took him a cup of water,” Harper said with a smile. “He was working so hard and everybody was cheering his name. I think Charlie’s never seen a homer he didn’t like. It’s fun to have him.”

Manuel moved from front office adviser to hitting coach after the team fired John Mallee on Tuesday. This was Manuel’s first time back in the dugout in exactly six years. He was fired from the Phillies manager’s job six years earlier to the day.

Manuel was brought in to try to spark a group of underperforming hitters over the final 43 games of the season. Phillies hitters have pressed mightily in recent weeks. Before the game, Manuel said he wanted to see the hitters get back to having some fun (see story).

They followed his coaching.

“The vibe in the dugout was loose and relaxed,” Kapler said. “We're going to be confident and loose and relaxed even through the hard times. It's an initiative of ours. We're going to stay loose through this.”

Of course, getting a pitcher as good as Aaron Nola two runs in the first, two in the second (Nola had an RBI hit against Hamels in that inning) and six in the third will ease the tension on any team.

“When you score two runs for Aaron Nola, you start to get the sense you have a good chance to win the game,” Kapler said. “It's not like you're doing the math or anything in the first inning, but you know giving Aaron Nola a cushion gives you a good chance to win. That certainly relaxes the group.”

Nola delievered seven innings of three-hit, one-run ball. He is 6-1 with a 2.94 ERA in 16 starts at home this season.

Nola was the Phillies’ first-round pick in the 2014 draft.

Hamels was the team’s first-rounder 12 years earlier. This was his first time pitching as an opponent at Citizens Bank Park and it did not go well. He was hammered for nine hits and eight runs and did not get an out in the third inning.

“Give credit where credit’s due,” he said, referring to the Phillies' offense.

He added: “It’s nice to be back. This is a great place. Great memories.”

This outing won’t go down as a great memory for Hamels.

But Nola sure liked his.

Especially his RBI single against Hamels in the second inning.

“I have to call Cole about that one and tell him I'm sorry,” Nola said with a laugh.

The Phillies haven’t swept a series since late June.

Maybe they can have some more fun Thursday night and pull one off.

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Indians' Shane Bieber pushes Phillies one step closer to the end

Indians' Shane Bieber pushes Phillies one step closer to the end

CLEVELAND — Time continues to run out for the Phillies.

They suffered a 5-2 loss to the Cleveland Indians on Friday night.

Meanwhile in Milwaukee, the Brewers hammered the Pittsburgh Pirates, 10-1.

These two outcomes dropped the Phillies five games back in the NL wild-card race with just 10 games to play. The math is against the Phillies. Their elimination number is down to five. If Milwaukee plays just .500 ball over its last eight games, the Phillies would have to go 10-0 just to tie. For a team that hasn’t won more than four games in a row all season, that’s bad news.

“We’ve got to win. Period,” Jay Bruce said. “Can’t worry about anything else. You listen. You read. You concern yourself too much about it and it doesn’t do any good. So we have to win and see what happens. There are no promises. But we know we can’t go where we want to go if we don’t win.”

The Phillies didn’t win Friday night because they did not get a good start from Drew Smyly and they did not hit Cleveland starter Shane Bieber.

The loss was the Phillies’ second in a row and it came with J.T. Realmuto, arguably the team’s MVP, getting the night off. Jean Segura also did not play because of a sore ankle.

Realmuto has carried the heaviest load of any catcher in baseball and manager Gabe Kapler decided to give him a recovery day on the opener of a crucial series. Kapler explained his reasons before the game (see story). Realmuto was not available before the game and he refused to speak with reporters after the game. He is expected to start behind the plate on Saturday night when Jason Vargas looks to stop the losing skid. Vargas has lasted just three innings in each of his last two starts.

Smyly allowed seven base runners and gave up four runs in the first two innings Friday night. He was gone after walking the first batter in the bottom of the third. The lefty appeared perturbed upon leaving the game, but it wasn’t with Kapler’s decision to pull him. The bullpen allowed just one run the rest of the way to keep the Phils in the game.

“I wasn’t upset,” Smyly said. “I was just upset with how the game went. I just wasn’t very good tonight at all. I wasn’t very good with my command and put the team in a hole.”

The Phillies got a two-run double from Maikel Franco, a late add to the starting lineup after Segura was scratched, in the fifth inning and that was the extent of their offense.

Bieber, a 24-year-old right-hander, scattered seven hits, walked none and struck out seven in 7 1/3 innings of work. He looked very much like the guy who was the MVP of the All-Star Game in July.

“He showed why he’s one of the best young pitchers in baseball,” Kapler said. “He brought his A-game tonight. He was able to execute all of his pitches, threw strikes, attacked the zone, and had some wipeout stuff below the zone.”

“He’s the true definition of a pitcher,” Bruce added. “He’s got good stuff, commands both sides of the plate and doesn’t give in. He’s very confident in every pitch he has. He did what he wanted tonight. He hit his spots, he got ahead, he finished guys with different pitches.”

Bieber, who is 15-7 with a 3.23 ERA this season, was a product of the 2016 draft. He went in the fourth round, which means there are 29 clubs out there kicking themselves for passing on him. The Phillies made four picks in that draft, including Mickey Moniak at No. 1 overall, before the Indians selected Bieber out of the University of California, Santa Barbara. The Phils selected pitcher Kevin Gowdy, infielder Cole Stobbe and pitcher Jo Jo Romero with their next three picks. Moniak played at Double A this season and Romero pitched at Double A and Triple A. Gowdy missed time recovering from Tommy John surgery and pitched at Lakewood this season. Stobbe also played there. Moniak, Stobbe and Gowdy were all chosen out of high school.

A familiar name closed the door for the Indians. Carlos Carrasco, the former Phillies prospect who was traded for Cliff Lee a decade ago, got the final four outs for the save. Carrasco is one of the game’s best inspirational stories. He was treated for leukemia this summer and is back helping the Indians in a playoff chase.

The 91-win Indians are tied with Tampa Bay for the second AL wild-card spot.



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Drew Smyly puts Phillies in an early hole they can't overcome against Indians

Drew Smyly puts Phillies in an early hole they can't overcome against Indians

BOX SCORE 

CLEVELAND — The Phillies moved one step closer to being eliminated from postseason contention in a 5-2 loss to the Cleveland Indians on Friday night.

The loss dropped the Phillies 4 ½ games out in the wild-card chase and they could be five out depending on the outcome of the Milwaukee-Pittsburgh game.

There are just 10 games remaining.

Like the Phillies, Cleveland is in must-win mode. The Indians (91-63) entered the night tied with Tampa Bay for the second American League wild-card spot.

The Phillies did not get a good start from lefty Drew Smyly.

The Indians, meanwhile, got a very good one from right-hander Shane Bieber. He gave up two runs over 7 1/3 innings.

The Phillies are 78-74. They need to win four of their final 10 games to have their first winning season since 2011.

Smyly’s night

It wasn’t good. He walked the first batter in the bottom of the third inning and was lifted by manager Gabe Kapler.

Smyly allowed the first four batters in the bottom of the first inning to reach base on a walk and three hits. Two of them scored. He gave up two more runs in the second inning. Both were unearned after a throwing error by Rhys Hoskins.

Smyly did not appear happy when Kapler pulled him from the game. But eight base runners in two-plus innings was a little much and the bullpen was able to settle things down and keep the game close.

Bieber’s night

The All-Star right-hander improved to 15-7 and lowered his ERA to 3.23.

He struck out seven and walked none. It was the eighth time this season that he’d registered at least seven strikeouts and no walks.

Bieber is a product of the 2016 draft. The Indians picked him in the fourth round out of the University of California, Santa Barbara. That was a notable draft for the Phillies because they had the first overall pick. They selected outfielder Mickey Moniak with that pick. The Phils picked pitcher Kevin Gowdy in the second round, infielder Cole Stobbe in the third round and pitcher Jo Jo Romero in the fourth round, 15 picks ahead of Bieber. Moniak played at Double A this season and Romero pitched at Double A and Triple A. Gowdy missed time recovering from Tommy John surgery and pitched at Lakewood this season. Stobbe also played there. Moniak, Stobbe and Gowdy were all chosen out of high school.

Carrasco comes up big

Carlos Carrasco, the former Phillies prospect who was traded to the Indians in the Cliff Lee deal a decade ago, registered a huge out when he retired Jay Bruce on a ground ball with runners on the corners to end the top of the eighth. Bruce could have tied the game with one swing, but Carrasco won the battle.

Carrasco is winning another battle, as well. He was treated for leukemia earlier this summer and has made it back to help the Indians’ playoff chase.

Carrasco stayed on for the ninth inning and got the save.

Scratched

Shortstop Jean Segura was a late scratch from the starting lineup. He has a sore left ankle. Maikel Franco was inserted into the lineup at third base and Scott Kingery moved over to shortstop. Franco drove in the Phillies’ runs with a double in the fifth.

Realmuto rests

Kapler gave J.T. Realmuto a rest at a crucial point of the season. The manager explained why (see story).

Up next

The series continues Saturday night. Jason Vargas (6-8, 4.48) pitches for the Phillies against Cleveland right-hander Zach Plesac (8-6, 3.64). Yes, he’s Dan’s nephew.



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