Phillies

Phillies hitters rack up the strikeouts

Phillies hitters rack up the strikeouts

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Winning covers up a lot of flaws. Or at least stops people from talking about them. So as the Phillies were running out to a 14-7 start in the new season, the alarming number of strikeouts that their hitters were racking up was hardly noticed.

Not Tuesday night.

Phillies hitters struck out 16 times in an 8-4 loss to the Arizona Diamondbacks (see first take).

Manager Gabe Kapler rationalized the high number of Ks by pointing out that opposing pitcher, lefty Robbie Ray, “is a strikeout guy with good stuff.” Indeed, Ray struck out 11 in just 4 2/3 innings.

Nonetheless, this was the 15th time that the Phils have reached double digits in strikeouts in 22 games this season. They entered the game ranked seventh in the majors with 211 Ks. Now, it’s up to 227.

“Part of working deep counts and seeing a lot of pitches is that you’re going to go through stretches where you strike out some,” Kapler said. “That doesn’t mean that we don’t need to put the ball in play more. We do. It’s an absolute necessity. But sometimes you have to give credit to the opposing pitcher.”

Carlos Santana struck out three times. So did rookie Jorge Alfaro. Twenty-four of his 52 plate appearances have ended in a strikeout this season.

Rookie Scott Kingery led the way with four strikeouts. He is mired in his first funk as a big leaguer. Over his last 25 at-bats, he has struck out 12 times while collecting just two hits.

“The one thing we know is that the league is going to adjust to our hitters and we trust that Kingery has the ability to adjust back,” Kapler said. “We’re seeing some adjustments made. He was really, really good early on and he’s going to go through a stretch where he scuffles a little bit. It doesn’t change our confidence level in him. In fact, it's as high as it has ever been. We know he’s going to come back strong. He’s going to need to make some adjustments but there’s no doubt in his capability to do so.”

Kingery acknowledged his struggles and said he would learn from them.

“I’ve started swinging at balls in the dirt,” he said. “That's always been one of my weaknesses. I'm chasing a little bit right now. They're just really kind of nibbling over the plate. They're not really throwing me too much. They're starting to work ahead with off-speed and trying to get me to chase. So now it's something I'm going to have to adjust back to.

“I knew this was going to happen. Coming into the season, they probably didn't have much information on me. I didn't have much information on them. You start to see some tendencies and stuff like that. They start attacking areas that you're not strongest in and when I chase, that piles up the strikeouts for me.

“I'm going to have to adjust and learn some stuff now to get back to hitting the ball like I was in the beginning of the season. There's definitely room to learn and grow as a player. It's definitely going to be a learning experience that is ongoing.”

Arizona hitters struck out 12 times, but the D-backs hit three homers, two against Phillies' starter Vince Velasquez, as they improved to 16-6.

Phillies get 13 strikeouts from Nick Pivetta, luck in 10th inning for win

Phillies get 13 strikeouts from Nick Pivetta, luck in 10th inning for win

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From a terrible and inexcusable loss to a dramatic win ... what a night for the Phillies.

They rallied for a 6-5 win over the St. Louis Cardinals on Aaron Altherr's two-run double with two outs in the bottom of the 10th inning Monday night.

Altherr's hit got a lot of people off the hook.

The Phillies led, 4-0, after the first inning and had only four hits the rest of the way.

The Cardinals came all the way back in a bizarre ninth inning and went ahead on a solo homer by Tommy Pham against Jake Thompson in the top of the 10th.

The Phillies should have won this one earlier.

With two outs in the top of the ninth, Victor Arano registered the team’s 18th strikeout of the game. It should have ended the game and given the Phils a 4-2 win. The pitch, however, a slider in the dirt, got by catcher Andrew Knapp, scoring a run from third and keeping the inning alive for pinch-hitter Kolten Wong to tie the game with a single against Adam Morgan.

Rhys Hoskins started the Phillies' rally in the bottom of the 10th inning with a single.

The win improved the Phillies to 38-32 and a NL-best 23-12 at home.

The Phils came out of the chute with four runs in the first inning against Miles Mikolas. 

Nick Pivetta struck out a career-high 13 in 7 1/3 innings of work. Right-handed reliever Edubray Ramos picked up Pivetta with runners on second and third and one out in the eighth. With the game on the line, Ramos registered two huge strikeouts to preserve a two-run lead.

Arano was called on to pitch the ninth. He, too, faced a second-and-third jam with one out. He essentially pitched out of the jam with a pair of strikeouts but the one that would have ended the game went for a wild pitch. It gave the Cardinals life and they capitalized.

In case you’re wondering, bullpen ace Seranthony Dominguez was not available after throwing 52 pitches the previous two days.

Pivetta had struggled in his previous three starts this month. He’d lost all three and given up 13 runs in 14 innings.

This one was a different story. The right-hander had dominant stuff from the beginning. He threw 108 pitches and got 21 swinging strikes, 11 on his curveball and seven on his four-seam fastball, which topped out at 97.6 miles per hour.

A day after scoring 10 runs in Milwaukee, the Phillies scored four times in the first inning. Three of the runs came on a home run by Odubel Herrera after Mikolas allowed a leadoff single to Cesar Hernandez and a walk to Hoskins.

Herrera’s bat has really come alive after a hellacious slump that dropped him from a league-best .361 to .283 in a 23-game span. Over his last five games, he has nine hits, including three home runs.

Knapp drove in the Phillies’ fourth run.

Rightfielder Nick Williams was forced to leave the game in the eighth inning when Matt Carpenter’s double clanged off the wall and struck Williams in the face, drawing blood (see video).

Vince Velasquez will look to follow up last week’s gem against Colorado in the second game of the series on Tuesday night.

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Charlie Manuel back in a Phillies uniform for 'hittin' season'

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Charlie Manuel back in a Phillies uniform for 'hittin' season'

The temperature on the field was well into the 90s as the Phillies took batting practice at Citizens Bank Park before Monday's game against the St. Louis Cardinals.

In other words …

“Hittin’ season,” Charlie Manuel said. “This is my weather. I probably should be here.”

And Manuel was there, standing behind the batting cage — in uniform — taking it all in, talking hitting, offering pointers.

Manuel scouts amateur players leading up to the draft so he has been in town all month and will stay through Thursday’s annual Phillies Phestival, which benefits the Philadelphia Chapter of the ALS Association. Hitting coach John Mallee asked the beloved former skipper to put on a uniform and come down on the field to watch batting practice. The two had previously built a rapport during spring training.

Manuel is still a fixture around the batting cage in spring training, but this was the first time he’d been in uniform around the cage at Citizens Bank Park since he was fired as Phillies skipper on Aug. 16, 2013. Actually, Manuel never changed into his uniform that day. He got the news from then general manager Ruben Amaro Jr., appeared briefly at a news conference then grabbed his Wawa bag and headed home. So Monday was the first time he’d been in uniform at CBP since Aug. 8, 2013. The Phillies beat the Chicago Cubs, 12-1, that day.

Manuel wasn’t the only extra set of eyes around the batting cage on Monday. Andy Tracy, the team’s minor-league hitting coordinator, is also in town. Manager Gabe Kapler brings in members of the player-development staff periodically. Kapler stresses inclusion top to bottom. Longtime Phillies observers will recall that former GM Ed Wade used to employ a similar program.

Manuel loved his time around the batting cage.

“I got a good sweat going,” he said. “I feel good. It’s a good feeling, unreal really. We had some guys in BP really putting on a show. (Nick) Williams, (Jorge) Alfaro, (Aaron) Altherr, (Carlos) Santana — they were launching ‘em. Hopefully it carries over into the game.”

Well, the Phillies scored four runs in the first inning, three on a homer by Odubel Herrera.

Hittin’ season.

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