Phillies

Phillies enter All-Star break off 'solid' road trip ... but it could have been better

Phillies enter All-Star break off 'solid' road trip ... but it could have been better

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MIAMI – There was no music and there were no smiles as Phillies players showered, dressed and headed out of the clubhouse for the All-Star break.

They knew they let one get away.

A road trip that started with the euphoria of two straight wins in Pittsburgh ended with consecutive losses against the lowly Miami Marlins, including an ugly one Sunday afternoon in which the Phillies blew a five-run lead on their way to a 10-5 defeat (see first take).

“This was not the prettiest series by any stretch,” manager Gabe Kapler said. “We'll acknowledge that.

“But it was still a solid all-around trip.”

It was. The Phillies played 11 games in 10 days and went 6-5.

But it could have been so much more than just solid considering that none of the teams the Phillies played have a winning record. It could have been so much better than just solid had the offense not been shut out twice, had it not averaged under three runs over the final 10 days, had it not bloomed briefly Sunday only to quickly wilt and not be heard from again.

On the plus side, the Phillies do go into the break leading the National League East.

But watch out in the rearview mirror. The Phils’ lead over the Atlanta Braves is just a half-game and third-place Washington is just 5 ½ back.

While Phillies players enjoy four days of rest and relaxation, the front office will be busy trying to ensure that the team stays in contention. The Phils remain hot and heavy after Manny Machado and Zach Britton. Landing those two talents from Baltimore could be a difference-maker in the division race and return the Phillies to the playoffs for the first time since 2011.

Everything was set up Sunday for the Phillies to go into the break on a high note. They led 5-0 after rallying for five runs against Miami starter Jose Urena in fourth inning. The Phils got four hits in the inning, including two for extra bases.

That was their entire offense for the day. There was no more and that was killer.

In the fifth inning, the Marlins rallied for eight runs to take the lead.

It all started with rookie Enyel De Los Santos, starting in place of Zach Eflin, who is out with a blister on his pitching hand, allowing five straight Marlins to reach base with one out. Cameron Maybin, the first batter to reach base, hit a solo homer and Brian Anderson, the fourth batter to reach, hit a three-run homer. Even after that, Kapler stuck with De Los Santos. The pitcher hit the next batter, J.T. Realmuto, and Kapler went to reliever Edubray Ramos with the score 5-4.

Did Kapler stick with De Los Santos too long?

“He's working such a low pitch count and really moving quickly through their lineup,” Kapler said. “For me, he was right where he needed to be. 

"I thought he pitched well up until the time he sort of just fell apart. It happened fast. I thought he did a good job of attacking the zone and working out of some jams early on. Overall, a solid performance by him. But it certainly didn't end the way he wanted it to end.”

Ramos and Adam Morgan both allowed two-out, two-run singles as the Marlins sent 13 men to the plate in the inning. But the Phillies could have gotten out of the inning with the lead had home plate umpire Todd Tichenor not called a ball on a full-count pitch to Martin Prado. The pitch was close, so close that it appeared to be a strike on replays. If the Ramos gets that pitch, the inning is over and the Phils are still up, 5-4.

“I thought it was a strike,” Ramos said. “It changed the inning completely. I thought I’d be out of the inning. But there’s nothing you can do about it.”

Catcher Andrew Knapp said, “I had it as a strike. He (the umpire) said it was down.”

There was another play in the inning that might have preserved the Phillies’ lead. First baseman Carlos Santana recorded a putout for the second out and started to run to the dugout as if he thought it was the third out. It was not clear whether Santana would have had a shot at an inning-ending double play had he been thinking that way, but the play did stand out for the wrong reasons.

After the game, Santana acknowledged that he forgot how many outs there were.

“That can’t happen,” he said.

But he also said he would have had no chance at a double play, and Kapler agreed.

“It’s tough,” Kapler said. “The way I saw it, it was probably a one-out play. Obviously, losing track of the outs is something that can't happen. But he's one of our most locked-in and focused players most of the time. I think he's earned a pass on this one.”

There will be no passes for the Phillies in the second half. When they return Friday, they will be in the heat of a pennant race and every phase of their game will be tested.

Rest up, boys. This thing is only just getting started.

“We're still going into the break in first place,” Kapler said. “I think that's going to feel good to our club. Our club needs a break. This is going to be a good, solid break for us.”

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Mets' Jacob deGrom wins NL Cy Young Award as Phillies' Aaron Nola comes in 3rd

Mets' Jacob deGrom wins NL Cy Young Award as Phillies' Aaron Nola comes in 3rd

New York Mets ace Jacob deGrom was the landslide winner of the National League Cy Young Award when the results were announced on Wednesday night.

Max Scherzer of the Washington Nationals finished second in the voting and Phillies ace Aaron Nola placed third.

DeGrom received 29 of a possible 30 first-place votes from members of the Baseball Writers Association of America. Scherzer, a three-time Cy Young winner, received one first-place vote.

Nola received 27 third-place votes, two fourth-place votes and one fifth-place vote to easily outdistance Colorado's Kyle Freeland, the fourth-place finisher in the NL.

DeGrom, 30, had just 10 wins, fewest ever by a Cy Young-winning starting pitcher in a full season, for a Mets club that finished eight games under .500. However, he led the majors with a brilliant 1.70 ERA.

Nola, 25, was the Phillies’ first-round draft pick in 2014. He blossomed into an ace in his fourth season in the majors in 2018. He finished second in the NL in ERA (2.37) and third in innings (212 1/3) and WHIP (0.97).

Scherzer, 34, led the majors in innings (220 2/3) and strikeouts (300) in 2018 while recording  a 2.53 ERA, the second best of his career.

Nola became the first Phillie to finish in the top 10 of the NL Cy Young voting since Cole Hamels placed sixth in 2014. The last Phillies to finish in the top three were Roy Halladay and Cliff Lee, who finished second and third, respectively, in 2011. Halladay won the award in 2010.

Tampa Bay’s Blake Snell won the American League Award over Houston’s Justin Verlander and Cleveland’s Corey Kluber.

Here's the breakdown of the National League voting, courtesy of BBWAA.com:

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Phillies promote Chris Young to replace Rick Kranitz as pitching coach

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USA Today Images/AP

Phillies promote Chris Young to replace Rick Kranitz as pitching coach

The Phillies have made a change in their coaching ranks.

Chris Young has been promoted to head pitching coach, said a baseball source, confirming a report by Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic. Young replaces Rick Kranitz, who served as the team’s head pitching coach in 2018.

Phillies general manager Matt Klentak was not immediately available for comment on the sudden and surprising change.

A baseball source with knowledge of the move said it was made after Young had received an offer to become head pitching coach with another major league team. It is customary for teams to allow coaches to move on to greater roles or retain them with promotions. In this case, the Phillies promoted Young from assistant pitching coach to head pitching coach so that they could retain him.

Kranitz, 60, remains under contract with the Phillies and could conceivably return to the organization in another role. However, that is doubtful. Kranitz had previously served as a head major-league pitching coach with Miami, Baltimore and Milwaukee and should have no trouble hooking on with another organization.

Before becoming the Phillies’ head pitching coach last season, Kranitz was the team’s bullpen coach and then assistant pitching coach under Bob McClure. McClure and Kranitz were both instrumental in the grooming of Aaron Nola, who will finish in the top 3 of the National League Cy Young voting when the results are announced on Wednesday night.

Young, 37, joined the Phillies a year ago after spending three years with the Houston Astros as pro scouting supervisor. The Astros are one of baseball’s most progressive organizations and Young is well schooled in the modern approach (video, big data, deep matchup study, etc.) that many teams, the Phillies included, are now taking toward coaching, game preparation and execution. 

Earlier this offseason, the Phillies hired Josh Bonifay, another former member of the Astros organization, to be their director of player development. Joe Jordan, the Phillies' previous director of player development, resigned over philosophical differences with the front office in September.

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