Phillies

Phillies-Blue Jays series this weekend postponed

Phillies-Blue Jays series this weekend postponed

Another Phillies series has been postponed. They were scheduled to resume their season with three games against the Blue Jays this weekend — a doubleheader Saturday and an afternoon game Sunday — but that series will not occur. It has been postponed by MLB "out of an abundance of caution."

It was Blue Jays manager Charlie Montoyo who broke the news early Thursday afternoon, telling reporters, "We're not going to Philadelphia. Those games have been postponed." That comment came shortly after a Phillies coach and home clubhouse attendant tested positive for COVID-19.

The Phillies have been off all week. They had their four-game home-and-home series with the Yankees postponed. It was supposed to be this Monday through Thursday. Yesterday, their Friday game against the Blue Jays was moved back to become a doubleheader Saturday. 

Amid the postponements, the Phillies had been having scattered workouts at Citizens Bank Park this week after hosting a Marlins team on opening weekend that experienced an outbreak of more than a dozen players. 

The Phillies canceled all activity at Citizens Bank Park Thursday until further notice. For now, the Phillies' season is set to resume on Monday against the Yankees.

"Major League Baseball will coordinate with health experts and the Major League Baseball Players Association in planning for the Phillies' resumption in play, and will provide further scheduling updates as necessary," the Phillies said in a statement.

The missed games are mounting and there probably won't be enough time for a team in the Phillies' position to make all of them up in a season with only six off-days. They could end up playing a bunch of doubleheaders, or they could end up having their end-of-season record interpreted based on winning percentage.

All of that, though, is secondary right now to health and safety.

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Aaron Nola strikes out 10, bats bash five homers as Phillies top Braves 13-8

Aaron Nola strikes out 10, bats bash five homers as Phillies top Braves 13-8

After a weak showing in which they produced just seven hits and two runs in losing a doubleheader to the Atlanta Braves on Sunday afternoon, the Phillies’ bats awakened with a vengeance in a 13-8 trouncing of those same Braves on Monday night.

The Phillies had 14 hits, five of which were homers. 

Aaron Nola was the beneficiary of the run support, not that he needed all of them. The right-hander was magnificent for the second straight outing as he won for the first time since August 20 of last season. Nola was 0-5 in nine starts since then and the team had lost all of those games.

The Phils ended up splitting the four-game series with the Braves. Before that, the Phils split a four-game series with the New York Yankees. The Phils are 5-6. Atlanta is 11-7. 

Nola’s night 

It’s hard to believe Nola went that long between wins. Not all of it was his fault. He struck out 12 and walked none over six innings in his last start against the Yankees but the offense was lacking and the bullpen was hit hard in that game. 

Nola picked right up where he left off against the Yankees in this game. He threw an economical 89 pitches over eight innings. He allowed just two hits, one of which was a homer. He walked one and struck out 10. Over his last two starts, he has walked one and struck out 22.

Nola exited with a 13-1 lead. Relievers Nick Pivetta and Trevor Kelley did their best to let the Braves back in the game by allowing seven runs in the ninth. Pivetta was charged with six of the runs. He got one out. This bullpen ...

Nola vs. Atlanta 

Nola is 11-5 with a 2.89 ERA in 19 career starts against the Braves. It’s not easy to dominate a club when they see you that much. You have to be good. Your stuff has to be sharp. And you can’t be predictable. Nola threw 34 fastballs, 32 changeup and 23 curveballs.

Power plant

Bryce Harper (No. 3), J.T. Realmuto (No. 5), Didi Gregorius (No. 3), Roman Quinn (No. 1) and Jean Segura (No. 1) all hit home runs.

The Phillies actually hit for the cycle in home runs. Segura and Quinn hit solo shots, Realmuto hit a two-run shot, Harper a three-run shot and Gregorius a grand slam.

The Phils have scored 55 runs this season and 33 (60 percent) have come via home runs. 

Quick start 

Manager Joe Girardi gave Andrew McCutchen the night off and used Phil Gosselin as his DH/leadoff man.

Gosselin had another good night with a pair of singles, a walk and two runs scored. He is 8 for 17 on the season.

Gosselin helped the Phils get off to a quick start. He and Rhys Hoskins singled against Sean Newcomb in the first inning and Harper followed with a three-run homer.

Gregorius smacked his grand slam in the second as the Phils built a 10-1 lead. It was one of three homers the Phils hit in the second inning.

According to the Elias Sports Bureau, this was the first time the Phillies had ever scored 10 runs and hit four homers in the first two innings of a game.

Scary moment

Harper took a pitch off the back of the right hand during his at-bat in the second inning. Though the pitch was a changeup from Newcomb, it hit Harper squarely and he was in some pain. Harper was wearing a pad on the back of his right hand and that may have saved him from injury. He stayed in the game. 

Up next

The Phils open a three-game series against the Baltimore Orioles at Citizens Bank Park on Tuesday night. Zack Wheeler, who has been brilliant in his first two starts with the Phillies, will pitch against right-hander Alex Cobb (1-1, 2.51). Wheeler is 2-0 with a 2.08 ERA.

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Phillies weighing options on Spencer Howard’s next start

Phillies weighing options on Spencer Howard’s next start

For weeks, we wondered when Spencer Howard would make his first big-league start.

Now, we wonder when he’ll make his second.

Friday is Howard’s day to pitch again.

But it’s also Vince Velasquez’ day to pitch.

So, who’s getting the ball that night against the New York Mets at Citizens Bank Park?

Maybe both. 

“We're going to prepare them both to start on Friday,” Phillies manager Joe Girardi said Monday, one day after Howard’s not-great-but-not-bad-either debut against the Atlanta Braves.

Girardi said he would name a starter by Thursday.

Whoever doesn’t start Friday's game could be used in multiple-inning relief that night.

“We could piggyback them,” Girardi said. 

The Phillies need to keep both Howard and Velasquez stretched out because they will need a sixth starter the following week because of a doubleheader against Toronto. Beyond that, the Phils have four doubleheaders in September so they will need six starters for most of that month.

Velasquez and Howard each started one of the games in Sunday’s doubleheader against the Braves. The Phillies lost both games. Velasquez pitched four innings and allowed three hits, a run and three walks. He struck out six. Howard pitched 4 2/3 innings and allowed four runs and a walk. He struck out four. He threw a first-pitch strike to 17 of 22 hitters but was tagged for a pair of homers by Ronald Acuna Jr. and Freddie Freeman. 

There are reasons why the Phillies might choose Howard to start Friday’s game over Velasquez: 

- Howard represents the future and could be a foundation piece in the Phillies’ rotation for years to come. Why not start grooming him now?

- Velasquez has been inconsistent in the rotation for four-plus seasons. He does have some experience working out of the bullpen.

Another potential reason: The Mets have never seen Howard while Velasquez is 2-4 with a 4.35 ERA in 11 career starts against them. There aren’t many secrets in this era of data and video scouting, but the Mets’ lack of firsthand familiarity with Howard could help the pitcher. 

Stay tuned.

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