Phillies

Phillies run all over Noah Syndergaard; Aaron Nola earns 14th win

Phillies run all over Noah Syndergaard; Aaron Nola earns 14th win

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After being blown out in Game 1 and holding on to win Game 2 of Thursday's doubleheader, the Phillies won Friday night's game against the Mets in the first inning.

They ambushed Noah Syndergaard for three runs in the first, which was all Aaron Nola needed in a 4-2 win.

Nola has been literally unbeatable this season when given a bit of run support — he's 13-0 with a 2.20 ERA when the Phillies score at least three runs.

The Phils had little trouble with Syndergaard's high-90s fastball in the opening frame, swinging and missing just once in his 21 pitches. The three first-inning runs were more than Syndergaard had allowed in his last nine first-innings combined.

For the Phillies, this was a quality win against a top-tier pitcher and a good sign for their upcoming games against fellow stingy right-handers Jacob deGrom (Saturday), Stephen Strasburg (Tuesday) and Max Scherzer (Thursday).

With the win, the Phillies are 68-54 with 40 games left. They're on pace to go 90-72.

Running at will

The Phillies' game plan was to run early and often against Syndergaard, who takes forever to deliver the ball with men on base. The Phillies stole five bases off Syndergaard — Cesar Hernandez, Maikel Franco, Jorge Alfaro twice and Carlos Santana — and started the runner from first on two other occasions.

It's the right thing to do against Syndergaard, who has allowed 89 steals on 103 attempts in his MLB career.

They were the first two steals of Alfaro's career and Franco's third. It was Santana's second as a Phillie.

Syndergaard had averaged about 14 pitches per inning over his last five starts. In this one, he threw 115 pitches in 5⅔ innings, an average of more than 20 per frame. 

Inside Nola's start

Prior to Friday's game, Phillies manager Gabe Kapler downplayed a New York reporter's question about whether it upsets him that Nola doesn't get as much national Cy Young attention as Scherzer or deGrom. A few hours later, Nola went out and pitched yet again like a Cy Young winner.

The crazy thing was that this was far from Nola's best night, especially from a control standpoint in the middle innings. And yet, the line still read: 7 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 1 BB, 11 K.

Nola is 14-3 with a 2.24 ERA in 25 starts. It is the exact same ERA Roy Halladay had through 25 starts in his Cy Young season of 2010.

He has allowed just four home runs in 12 home starts this season. Since Citizens Bank Park opened in 2004, the only pitcher to allow fewer than five home runs in double-digit starts at CBP was Halladay in 2011.

Pat Neshek worked a scoreless ninth for his third save. The Phillies are trying to limit the number of times Seranthony Dominguez pitches on consecutive nights.

Quinn starts again

Roman Quinn started in center field for the second straight game. While Kapler won't indicate whether to expect more starts moving forward for Quinn over the slumping Odubel Herrera, it seems like a safe bet that if Quinn continues to produce in all three phases, he'll continue to play.

Friday night, he hit his first career big-league triple on a deep fly ball to left-center that Austin Jackson couldn't snare. The ball caromed off the wall and if it wasn't played perfectly by leftfielder Jack Reinheimer, Quinn could have had an inside-the-park home run.

More on the Quinn-Herrera situation here (see story).

Cesar coming around

Hernandez's on-base percentage has been below .360 one day all season. In that regard, he's done his job as a leadoff hitter.

But entering Friday's game, he was hitting just .258, 36 points lower than his batting average the last two seasons. 

After a prolonged period without driving the ball, Hernandez has looked good the last two nights, going 4 for 8 with a double, a walk, two steals and four runs scored.

He has a stolen base in back-to-back games after stealing just one in his previous 38 games.

Up next

Another big-time pitching matchup is on tap for Saturday. It's Jake Arrieta (9-7, 3.33) vs. deGrom (7-7, 1.81).

On Sunday, Nick Pivetta (7-9, 4.37) faces veteran lefty Jason Vargas (2-8, 8.10).

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Phillies to hold 3 retirement ceremonies for Jimmy Rollins, Chase Utley, Ryan Howard

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Phillies to hold 3 retirement ceremonies for Jimmy Rollins, Chase Utley, Ryan Howard

Phillies fans should prepare for another nostalgic year at the ballpark. 

Prior to games in May, June and July, the Phillies will hold retirement ceremonies for Jimmy Rollins, Chase Utley and Ryan Howard.

Rollins' ceremony will take place Saturday night, May 4, when the Phillies host the Nationals at 7:05.

Then comes Utley's night, Friday, June 21 against the Marlins at 7:05.

Howard will be honored Sunday, July 14, when the Phils face the Nationals at 1:05.

Rollins never officially retired but hasn't played since June 2016 with the White Sox. 

Howard retired the first week of September, and Utley hung up his cleats once the playoffs ended. 

In many ways, 2018 was the final chapter in the book of the 2008 Phillies. Jayson Werth also retired in late June after his situation with the Mariners didn't work out. Carlos Ruiz hasn't officially retired but did not find a team in 2018.

Cole Hamels and Ryan Madson, though, are still going strong as the final two active members of that championship team.

Fans interested in making it to all three ceremonies can do so with the six-game Phillies Legends Ticket pack, which includes the three retirement nights along with any other three games.

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Roy Halladay deserves to be a 1st-ballot Hall of Famer

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Roy Halladay deserves to be a 1st-ballot Hall of Famer

Fans in Philadelphia didn’t get to enjoy Roy Halladay for very long. He had two stellar seasons, followed by two injury-plagued years that ended his playing career.

Halladay died in an aircraft accident one year ago. On Monday, Halladay was named among 35 players on the ballot for the 2019 Baseball Hall of Fame (see story).

Customarily, players have to wait five years for Hall of Fame eligibility. If a player dies, they're eligible six months after their death. There has been one exception to this rule in the last 65 years: Roberto Clemente was inducted in 1973, after dying in a plane crash on Dec. 31, 1972.

There are a handful of worthy names on this year’s ballot. And while Roy Halladay was forced into early retirement at 36, he is a pitcher with virtually no equals during his 15-plus major league seasons.

Halladay's death last year hit the Philadelphia sports community hard. His starts with the Phillies were appointment viewing, the likes of which the city hadn’t seen since Curt Schilling dominated teams in the 1990s.

And although fans in Philadelphia only saw two seasons of Halladay's excellence on the mound, his prime lasted a decade — the 2002 through the 2011 seasons.

Here are Halladay's ranks among all MLB pitchers during that span:

Wins — 170 (1st)

Win percentage — .694 (1st)

Complete Games — 63 (1st - by 30!)

Shutouts — 18 (1st)

K/BB Ratio — 4.57 (1st)

ERA — 2.97 (2nd)

ERA+ — 148 (2nd)

Innings — 2194.2 (2nd)

He also made eight All-Star teams, won two Cy Young Awards and finished in the top 5 in Cy Young voting seven times in that 10-year span.

From the years 1995 through 2017, Halladay has more complete games than any pitcher (67). Here's the thing: Halladay only pitched from 1998 through 2013.

Being the best pitcher in baseball for a season is a feat. Being the best pitcher in baseball for an entire decade is something that is truly special. Remember how great Tim Lincecum was at the start of his career? He also won two Cy Youngs. Lincecum didn't even make it to 10 full seasons in the big leagues before a degenerative hip injury derailed his career.

The end of Roy Halladay's baseball career, and his life, occurred far too soon. Voting him into the Baseball Hall of Fame next year would not be.

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