Phillies come roaring out of All-Star break to blast Padres

Phillies come roaring out of All-Star break to blast Padres


The Phillies came back from the All-Star break Friday night and survived a ragged first inning en route to an 11-5 win over the San Diego Padres at Citizens Bank Park.

Carlos Santana led the Phillies’ offense with a three-run home run, highlighting the team’s six-run second inning.

Phillies starting pitcher Jake Arrieta was not sharp. He allowed five base runners — on three hits and two walks — and four runs in the first inning. It did not help that the Phils made two errors in the inning. One of the errors was by Arrieta and he also threw a wild pitch.

Arrieta’s mates got him off the hook with a big second inning against lefty Clayton Richard. The Phils drew three walks in the inning and two of them came around to score. Santana’s 15th homer was the big blow in the inning. Odubel Herrera chipped in with a two-run single and Rhys Hoskins worked a bases-loaded walk.

Arrieta had pitched well — four earned runs in 19 innings — in his first three starts in July. He did not make it out of the fourth inning in this one. He gave up six hits and five runs. Two of his three walks led off innings and became runs.

The Phillies’ bullpen was exceptional. Austin Davis, Victor Arano, Tommy Hunter, Pat Neshek and Adam Morgan combined on 5 2/3 scoreless innings. The left-hander Davis earned his first big-league win with 1 2/3 scoreless innings.

The offense erupted for four more runs in the bottom of the eighth to salt the game away.

Santana finished the night with four RBIs.

The attendance was 30,034.

The win improved the Phillies to 54-42 overall and 31-16 at Citizens Bank Park. They maintained a half-game lead in the NL East over second-place Atlanta, which was victorious at Washington. The Nats are 6½ games back.

• Vince Velasquez (5-8, 4.39) will start Saturday night against San Diego’s Luis Perdomo (1-4, 7.55). Nick Pivetta (6-7, 4.58) will start Sunday afternoon against Tyson Ross (5-8, 4.32).

The blister on Zach Eflin’s right middle finger has healed. He will come off the disabled list and face the Dodgers on Monday night. Aaron Nola will round out the rotation and start on Tuesday. The Phillies wanted to give Nola a couple of extra days of rest.

“He’s been a dependable horse and we thought it was smart to give him a blow,” manager Gabe Kapler said.

• J.P. Crawford, on the DL with a fractured hand, has been cleared to take ground balls and hit balls off a tee. 

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'I’ve got to get better,' says Bryce Harper, who continues to have trouble with the fastball

'I’ve got to get better,' says Bryce Harper, who continues to have trouble with the fastball

MILWAUKEE — A few things went wrong for the Phillies as they went for a series sweep of the Milwaukee Brewers on Sunday afternoon.

Zach Eflin was fighting a stomach bug. He had trouble keeping his fastball out of the middle of the plate, was hit hard, and made an early exit.

Vince Velasquez did not come close to duplicating his strong bullpen debut of Friday night. He was racked for five hits, including a double and two homers, and four runs in less than an inning of work as the Brewers turned a three-run lead into a rout.

Phillies pitching gave up five homers in all.

But the biggest thing that prevented the Phillies from sweeping the Brewers was their inability to handle starter Brandon Woodruff.

The Phillies ended their seven-game trip to Chicago and Milwaukee with a 9-1 loss (see observations). Woodruff, who beat the Phils with six innings of one-hit ball less than two weeks ago in Philadelphia, was even better this time. The hard-throwing right-hander absolutely manhandled the Phillies’ hitters, holding them to just one hit over eight walk-free innings. He struck out 10 and Phillies' hitters struck out 12 times in all.

Andrew Knapp’s solo homer in the sixth inning was the Phillies’ only hit — their only base runner, for that matter.

“Thank goodness for Knappy with him being able to get the homer right there,” Bryce Harper said. “I think a lot of us thought (Woodruff) had the stuff to be perfect today. I thought he went out there and really did a good job. Sometimes it's going to be like that.”

Woodruff is 7-1 with a 3.22 ERA.

“He's really good, man,” Harper said. “I can't think of who I was talking to on the bench, but he looked like a Matt Harvey when he came up — exploding fastball, curveball, changeup, pitching at the top of the zone. I think he's really good.”

Woodruff struck out Harper and Odubel Herrera three times each.

All three of Harper’s strikeouts came swinging at high fastballs between 97 and 98 mph.

Now, that’s a big fastball that’s going to bite a lot of hitters. But Harper’s struggles with the fastball this season are notable. He leads the majors with 73 strikeouts. Thirty-nine of those strikeouts have come on fastballs, the most in the majors. 

Harper also has swung and missed at 83 fastballs this season, second most in the majors to Arizona’s Christian Walker. Overall, Harper has swung and missed at 16 percent of pitches this season. His career rate entering the season was 11.5 percent. Over the first 53 games of the season, Harper is hitting just .227 with nine homers and 34 RBIs. He does have a healthy .355 on-base percentage, fueled by 37 walks.

After Sunday’s game, Harper was asked specifically about his work on fastballs. He admitted they are giving him difficulty so far this season.

“Yeah, all-around it's not good right now,” he said. “I've got to get better. I've got to be better. Turn the page from today and take the day off tomorrow and turn in to St. Louis.”

The Phils host the Cardinals for three games beginning Tuesday night.

Manager Gabe Kapler did not dispute that Harper is having trouble with fastballs, but he remains full of faith that his No. 3 hitter will explode at some point.

“I have zero concerns on Bryce Harper,” Kapler said. “I am so confident that his numbers are going to be there at the end of the year. We’ve seen in the last couple of weeks flashes of it being where it needs to be. That is more engrained in my mind right now than today’s game, which was really the result of the opposing pitcher being on-point. Nobody was hitting Woodruff today. His fastball has been pretty devastating all year and he attacked with it today.”

This Phils went 4-3 on the seven-game trip. They go into the Memorial Day checkpoint nine games over .500 and in first place in the NL East.

“I think it was a high quality road trip that could have ended better had we had a great game today,” Kapler said. “But again, I don’t know any other way to emphasize this: Brandon Woodruff was phenomenal today.”

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Brewers 9, Phillies 1: Milwaukee avoids sweep in one-sided series finale

Brewers 9, Phillies 1: Milwaukee avoids sweep in one-sided series finale


MILWAUKEE — The Phillies’ seven-game road trip ended with a whimper Sunday afternoon.

For the second time in less than two weeks, the Phils were overpowered by Milwaukee’s Brandon Woodruff.

The hard-throwing right-hander held the Phillies to just one hit — a solo homer by Andrew Knapp in the sixth inning — over eight innings in leading his club to a 9-1 win at Miller Park.

The Phils had just one base runner and struck out 12 times.

The Brewers clouted five homers.

Woodruff, 7-1, beat the Phillies on May 14 in Philadelphia. He allowed just one hit in six innings in that one.

The loss snapped a three-game winning streak for the Phillies, who enter Memorial Day leading the NL East at 31-22.

The Phils completed the seven-game road trip to Chicago and Milwaukee with four wins and three losses.

The keys

• The Phillies looked completely flat.

• Milwaukee starter Woodruff probably had something to do with that. He used a mix of pitches that included a fastball that reached 98 mph to strike out a career-high 10. He walked none.

For good measure, Woodruff drove in two runs with an RBI double and an RBI single.

• Two days after a dynamic outing as a reliever, and just a few hours after manager Gabe Kapler announced that he was going to the bullpen full-time, Vince Velasquez looked awful in the fifth inning. He was asked to keep a deficit at 3-0. He failed miserably. He faced eight batters and got just two outs. He was tagged for two homers, a double and two singles — and he threw a wild pitch — as the Brewers scored four runs to turn it into a rout. The Brewers were on Velasquez’ fastball early in the count. Teams know he has a power fastball and likes to throw it. They will hunt it out of the bullpen so an adjustment may have to be made in his pitch sequencing.

Eflin’s day

Phillies starter Zach Eflin gave up six hits, including two homers, and three runs and did not pitch out of the fourth as Kapler tried to keep it close with a quick move to the bullpen. That didn’t work.

Eflin gave up some hard-hit balls on his fastball, particularly a pair of homers to Ben Gamel in the third and Yasmani Grandal in the fourth.

Tough day for Harper

Bryce Harper could not catch up to Woodruff’s fastball. He struck out three times on the right-hander’s 97-98 mph heater. Harper leads the majors with 73 strikeouts.

Big-league debut

Reliever J.D. Hammer made his big-league debut with a scoreless sixth inning. He struck out one. He showed a breaking ball and a fastball that hit 96 mph on the radar gun. More on Hammer here

Up next

The Phillies are off on Monday. They open a three-game series at home against St. Louis on Tuesday night. Nick Pivetta returns to the rotation in the first game of the series to face Adam Wainwright.

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