Phillies

Phillies lose Jerad Eickhoff for 6-8 weeks

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Phillies lose Jerad Eickhoff for 6-8 weeks

CLEARWATER, Fla. — The Phillies' pitching staff has suffered a setback.

Jerad Eickhoff, projected as a member of the season-opening starting rotation, has been shut down with a strained right lat muscle, the area behind his shoulder. He will open the season on the disabled list and be sidelined into May, based on the team's six- to eight-week timetable for treatment and recovery.

Eickhoff, 27, spent time on the disabled list with a similar injury last season. That injury was technically called an upper back strain.

Manager Gabe Kapler said Eickhoff injured himself on one of the final pitches he threw during his last start.

Eickhoff led the Phillies' staff in ERA (3.65) while making 33 starts in 2016. He was limited to 24 starts and had a 4.71 ERA last year while making two trips to the DL. His second trip to the DL, which ended his season, was for a nerve irritation in his right hand. Eickhoff is in Philadelphia being checked by doctors.

"We want to ensure, and we're pretty confident, that it's not related in any way to the (nerve) stuff he was dealing with last year," manager Gabe Kapler said.

Kapler added, "It's a mild lat strain. There might be a blessing in disguise here. We're always thinking about keeping guys healthy and strong and limiting their total innings count. Those are things that are always on our mind so it's possible the innings are limited on the front end and then in September, October, he's strong and healthy and prepared to go through a full season."

With Eickhoff down, the Phillies suddenly have some openings in their rotation. Jake Arrieta, who signed with the Phillies on Monday, believes he can be ready for the first week of the season, but nothing is official. Aaron Nola will be the opening day starter and Nick Pivetta and Vince Velasquez are good bets to be in the rotation. The final spot could go to Zach Eflin, Ben Lively, Mark Leiter Jr. or Tom Eshelman.

It is not known whether the Phillies would pursue free agent Alex Cobb. On Monday, general manager Matt Klentak said his offseason moves were likely complete.

No Manny, no problem — these Phillies believe they're good enough to keep winning

No Manny, no problem — these Phillies believe they're good enough to keep winning

BOX SCORE

The Phillies did not win the Manny Machado sweepstakes and, for one night at least, it didn’t really matter. The team’s offense showed up big in an 11-5 win over the San Diego Padres at Citizens Bank Park on Friday night (see first take).

“There's a lot of teams out there that wanted Machado because he's pretty much going to help anybody," Jake Arrieta said after the game. "But we've gotten into the position we are with the guys we have. 

"Would it have been cool to have a guy like that? Yeah. On the flip side, it gives other guys more opportunity to show they can produce at a high level and help us continue the way we’ve been playing.”

Arrieta got the ball in the first game back from the All-Star break, but he did not produce at a high level. He did not make it out of the fourth inning and allowed five runs. His teammates bailed him out, though, scoring six runs in the second inning and four more in the eighth as the Phils maintained their half-game lead on Atlanta in the NL East and improved to 54-42.

The crowd was 30,034, so folks are beginning to notice the progress that this team has made.

The Phillies played sloppy ball early in the game. Arrieta and catcher Jorge Alfaro both made errors. There was a wild pitch. Odubel Herrera and Maikel Franco both ran the bases a little recklessly.

But the Phils were able to play over these flaws because the bullpen came up huge with 5 2/3 shutout innings — rookie Austin Davis got his first big-league win — and the offense delivered 12 hits, including a huge, game-changing, three-run homer by Carlos Santana in the bottom of the second inning.

It was Santana’s 15th homer. The Phillies will need more power from him in the middle of the order as the second half unfolds. The need for pop is the reason the Phillies pursued Machado, who ended up in Los Angeles.

“Great player, man,” de facto team captain Rhys Hoskins said. “The Dodgers got a great player.

“But I think we’ve always thought that we can surprise a lot of people with the people we have in this room. We have a lot of talent. There hasn’t really been a time this year when we’ve all clicked at the same time, which I think is pretty exciting. And it’s going to happen at some point this year, hopefully for a long period of time. We’re in first place and that hasn’t happened yet, so that’s exciting.”

Manager Gabe Kapler began the day brushing off questions about Machado and expressing faith in his team as it is currently constructed.

“I have a tremendous amount of confidence in the men in that room,” he said. “We have everything we need. If we make additions — fantastic. But what we have is all we need. I’m really impressed with the group. We’re in first place for a reason. We didn’t get there with anybody but the men in that clubhouse right now.”

Santana echoed those comments after the game.

“Machado is a great player, but we believe in what we have here,” he said. “We have great talent. I know we have a lot of younger players, and I know sometimes people don't feel good about Philadelphia, but we believe.”

Santana and Arrieta are two of only a few Phillies players who’ve been involved in a pennant race previously. Arrieta had pitched well in his previous three starts before allowing six hits and three walks in 3 1/3 innings Friday night. He will need to pitch better than that if the Phils are going to stay in the race — and he knows it.

“When you’re behind early like that, it’s just really nice to see the team be able to pick you up,” Arrieta said. “I didn’t really have much tonight. They picked me up, and that’s something that I intend to do when it’s my opportunity to do that for our guys, when we have that need.”

Arrieta did make an important offensive contribution when he beat out a potential inning-ending double-play ball to keep the second inning alive. Cesar Hernandez and Hoskins (RBI) then worked walks against Clayton Richard before Herrera stroked a two-run single and Santana blasted his three-run homer. All the runs came with two outs with walks filling the bases and big hits clearing them.

The Phillies erupted for four runs in the bottom of the eighth, building a two-run lead to a six-run lead. The importance of that rally was huge as it allowed Kapler to stay away from bullpen ace Seranthony Dominguez. He will be fresh as the Phillies look to make it two in a row over the Padres on Saturday night.

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

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

BOX SCORE

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.

Notes
• 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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