Phillies

Phillies suffer another brutal loss in Coors Field house of horrors

Phillies suffer another brutal loss in Coors Field house of horrors

DENVER — Coors Field is turning into a house of horrors for the Phillies. Swept in four games during the final, dark days of the 2018 season and now losses in back-to-back nights in the new season, including one of the most excruciating you’ll see on Friday night.

“Brutal,” manager Gabe Kapler said. “Just a brutal loss. No way to sugarcoat it. That was a devastating loss across the board.”

Moments after taking a one-run lead in the top of the 12th inning on two-out hits by Phil Gosselin and Bryce Harper, the Phillies walked off the field with a painful 4-3 loss when Charlie Blackmon lined a two-out, two-run home run over the wall in right-center. The home run came on a 1-2 fastball from Juan Nicasio in his second inning of work (see observations).

In addition to losing the game, the Phillies likely lost recently hot-hitting Scott Kingery to the injured list. He suffered a right hamstring strain in the fourth inning and left the game. Andrew McCutchen also left the game with swelling in his left knee. After the game, he said he’d be ready to go Saturday night.

The Phillies are already thin with Odubel Herrera on the IL with a hamstring injury and reliever David Robertson on the IL with an elbow strain. Shortstop Jean Segura is also sidelined with a hamstring issue, though he’s not on the injured list. The Phils will likely have to add a position player from the minors for Saturday night’s game and Aaron Nola will have to give his team some innings to give the bullpen a rest.

The bullpen was very good before Nicasio walked a batter and allowed Blackmon’s homer in the 12th on Friday night. It delivered 5 1/3 scoreless innings between Vince Velasquez's departure in the sixth and the decisive 12th inning.

Velasquez’s solid start — two runs and eight strikeouts over 5 2/3 innings — and the work of the bullpen gave the Phillies a chance to win on a night when the offense racked up a lot of hits but did very little damage.

The Phils had 17 hits on the night but only three were for extra bases. The Phils were just 1 for 16 with runners in scoring position and they stranded 19 runners.

“Certainly, we have the ability to swing the bats very well with runners in scoring position and we didn't do that tonight,” Kapler said.

“Our bullpen threw the crap out of it,” Harper said. “Any time you can keep a team like that to two runs in Coors Field for that long, that’s doing something.

“We can be better, myself included. We got guys on base. We’ve got to get those guys in. If we could have gotten a couple of those runs across, it might have been a different story.”

As badly as things went for the Phils, with the injuries and the lack of scoring, they were in line to win the game after Gosselin, the West Chester native playing in his first game with the Phils, stroked a two-out single in the top of the 12th and came all the way around to score the go-ahead run on Harper’s fifth hit and second double of the game.

Nicasio issued a one-out walk in the bottom of the 12th then got the second out before Blackmon came up and ended the game. The Phils were one strike from winning. That’s why Nicasio challenged Blackmon with a fastball with the light-hitting Drew Butera on deck.

“You have Blackmon in a hole so you try to put him away,” Kapler said. “And that's what Juan did. We backed off the bunt. We weren't going to guard against the bunt. If [Blackmon] wants to put a bunt down, fine. First and second with Butera coming up — we would have been OK with that. Then, when we got Blackmon in the hole, I think everybody felt like the right play was to really attack him there.”

Blackmon attacked back.

And won.

The Phils are 4-12 against the Rockies since the start of the 2017 season and they have lost six straight in Coors Field with two more to play this weekend.

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Larry Bowa recalls two special seasons with (almost unanimous) Hall of Famer Derek Jeter

Larry Bowa recalls two special seasons with (almost unanimous) Hall of Famer Derek Jeter

Larry Bowa asked a question Tuesday afternoon.

“You think he’ll be unanimous?”

Derek Jeter was a 14-time All-Star and a five-time World Series champion with the New York Yankees. He won a Rookie of the Year award, was a World Series MVP and finished in the top 10 in American League MVP voting eight times. He won five Gold Gloves at shortstop and finished his career with 3,465 hits. Only Pete Rose, Ty Cobb, Hank Aaron, Stan Musial and Tris Speaker had more.

We’re talking rare air here, folks.

We’re talking icon.

So, six hours before the official Hall of Fame announcement was to come down early Tuesday night, the question that Bowa pondered wasn’t whether Jeter would make it through the doors of Cooperstown in his first year of eligibility – that was a slam-dunk, take-it-to-the-bank, lead-pipe cinch – it was would he be just the second player ever to be elected unanimously.

“He should be,” Bowa said.

The answer to Bowa’s question came soon enough.

No, Jeter did not make it into the Hall unanimously, as his great Yankee teammate Mariano Rivera did the year before. But he still received historic support as he sailed into Hardball Heaven on his first try.

Jeter appeared on 396 of the 397 ballots cast by voting members of the Baseball Writers Association of America.

Voters are encouraged but not required to make their ballots public. The identity of the one writer who did not vote for Jeter was not immediately known. That person will likely come forward at some point, not that it will matter a whole lot in the final analysis. The 99.7 percent of the vote that Jeter did receive is the highest ever for a position player.

Hard-hitting outfielder Larry Walker, an MVP and three-time National League batting champ, was also elected. He made it by six votes in his 10th and final year on the writers’ ballot.

Former Phillies pitcher Curt Schilling missed by 20 votes, but his 70 percent bodes well for future election. He needs to get to 75 percent of the vote in his final two years on the ballot.

Another former Phillie, third baseman Scott Rolen, received 35.3 percent of the vote in his third year on the ballot.

Bowa, the great former Phillies shortstop and manager, played 2,222 games at shortstop, seventh-most all time. Jimmy Rollins played 2,227 games at short, sixth-most all-time. Omar Vizquel ranks first on the list at 2,709 and Jeter is second at 2,674.

Bowa enjoyed an up-close look at Jeter’s greatness during the 2006 and 2007 seasons when he was third-base coach for the Yankees. Jeter still had another seven seasons to go in his career, but even at that point, Bowa knew he was looking at a Hall of Famer.

“He just had an aura about him that said, ‘If you want to be a big-leaguer, watch me,’ “ Bowa recalled. “It was that way in everything he did. He never sulked if he didn’t get any hits.

“In my two years there, I don’t think I ever saw him make a mental mistake. He was always well prepared. He was very coachable and open to advice. He never jogged. He always played the right way. In big situations with the game on the line, he wanted to be at the plate. And he produced.”

Bowa compared Jeter to a couple of players he managed with the Phillies, one a Hall of Famer, one a potential Hall of Famer.

“He reminded me of Jim Thome, the way he handled himself,” Bowa said. “Very humble guys. Both team-first. If it was the eighth inning and a guy led off with a double, you didn’t have to tell Jeter to get the ball to the right side and get him over to third.

“He was a little bit like Chase Utley. You wind him up in April, say good luck and have a good year, and at the end of year he’d have a great season. He could have played without any leader or manager. Incredible work ethic.”

Like any other player, Jeter could have an off day, though not often. Bowa recalled a time in 2007 when the Yankees played an awful game. 

“I think it was a Sunday game,” Bowa said. “It might have been the worst game I’d ever seen the Yankees play.”

The performance left manager Joe Torre quietly seething. He called the team together after the game.

“I’d never seen Joe angry before,” Bowa said. “He usually got with guys one-on-one in his office if he wasn’t happy and no one knew about it. But this time, we played so bad that he felt like he had to get everyone together.”

Torre didn’t go after the 25th man.

He went right for the heart – Jeter and Alex Rodriguez.

“He was all over them,” Bowa said. “It was the only time I ever saw Joe get on a guy like that. There was no swearing or anything like that, but he literally pointed them out and told them they were better than that and he expected more.”

The next day, Jeter was getting ready to do some early work with Bowa in the infield. Bowa asked him about what had gone down the day before.

“Jeter was completely accountable,” Bowa said. “He said he deserved it. That really showed me something. Here was a guy putting together a Hall of Fame career and he just got it. He didn’t take it personally.”

And he won’t take not being a unanimous selection to the Hall of Fame personally, either.

Ninety-nine-point-seven percent.

We’re still talking rare air here, folks.

“The guy was just solid, man,” Larry Bowa said. “So professional. Just a pleasure to watch. I’m really happy for him.” 

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Make that 2 buy-low bullpen moves for the Phillies

Make that 2 buy-low bullpen moves for the Phillies


Drew Storen wasn't the only reliever the Phillies added early this week.

The Phils also agreed to a minor-league deal with veteran right-hander Bud Norris, according to Robert Murray.

The Phillies worked out Norris late last season but did not sign him.

Norris last pitched in 2018 with the Cardinals. He was pretty effective, posting a 3.59 ERA in 57⅔ innings with 67 strikeouts. He saved 28 games.

Relievers are so volatile from year to year that it stands to reason one of Storen or Norris will recapture some success in 2020. The Phillies have seen quite clearly over the last two seasons that big relief contracts are a gamble. They paid David Robertson, Tommy Hunter and Pat Neshek a combined $57 million and all three dealt with long-term injuries.

The big wild-card in the Phils' bullpen is Seranthony Dominguez, who missed most of last season with arm injuries but could be a much-needed and useful weapon if he can revert to his 2018 form.

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