Phillies

Victor Arano finds his slider as Phillies come home from Miami with a series win

Victor Arano finds his slider as Phillies come home from Miami with a series win

MIAMI — The last time Victor Arano was in Florida, he couldn’t get anybody out.

This time …

Different story.

Arano was one of many pitching stars in the Phillies’ marathon win over the Miami Marlins on Sunday afternoon. The Phils prevailed, 3-1, on the strength of Jean Segura’s two-run home run in the top of the 14th inning (see observations). They are 9-5.

While Segura’s first homer with his new club put the Phillies over the top, it was the work of the pitching staff that gave the team life and saved it from the ignominy of losing a series to the lowly Marlins on a day when the offense sputtered.

“I really think pitching is the story today,” manager Gabe Kapler said after the game. “We came out and really threw the ball well.”

Fourteen innings. One run. Yeah, very well.

Vince Velasquez — six innings, one run — had his second straight positive start and the bullpen came through with eight scoreless innings. David Robertson and Arano both pitched two scoreless frames. Arano struck out all six batters he faced in the 12th and 13th innings and got the win after Andrew McCutchen preceded Segura’s homer with a triple.

“Arano was kind of the star of the show,” Kapler said. “Him giving us some length right there was huge.”

Arano got burned badly the last time he was in the Sunshine State. That was during spring training. Unable to find his slider, he was tagged for an ungodly 17 hits and 20 runs in just four innings of work. Arano pitched well for the Phillies last season (2.73 ERA in 60 games) and club officials wanted to keep him on the roster. But given the way he pitched in spring training, there was no way they could. He was sent to Triple A in the final week of camp to try to find the slider that made him so effective last season.

Arano found the pitch quickly. He pitched four scoreless innings at Triple A and struck out seven. He was recalled before Friday night’s game against the Marlins and, similarly, racked up four scoreless innings and seven strikeouts in the series.

Catcher Andrew Knapp described Arano’s slider as electric after Sunday’s win.

“I think he threw maybe three fastballs,” Knapp said. “The slider was dropping off the table.”

Arano could not argue with the Phillies’ decision to send him to Triple A at the end of spring training.

“I knew I needed to get my slider back to where it was last year,” he said through translator Diego Ettedgui. “That was my main focus.”

He said he was able to figure out that he needed to strengthen his grip a little on his slider, add a little finger pressure. He also watched video and determined that his front shoulder was flying open. With the help of Lehigh Valley pitching coach Steve Schrenk, Arano made the adjustments and — welcome back, slider.

If Arano can continue his effectiveness, it will be huge for this team. Ditto, Velasquez. He gave up just two hits and a run over six innings, walked three and struck out four. He did not allow a hit until Brian Anderson’s homer on a first-pitch fastball in the sixth. He was economical with his pitches, throwing 81.

In two starts, Velasquez has given up just six hits and three runs in 11 innings.

“Vince came out and attacked the strike zone really well,” Kapler said.

The offense has been inconsistent lately. It was held to three hits and a run in Wednesday night’s loss to Washington. It scored nine runs in Friday night’s win over the Marlins then didn’t score until the ninth inning in Saturday night’s 10-3 loss. On Sunday, the Phils got on the board with a Cesar Hernandez homer in the fourth inning then went nine innings without a run.

Good thing the pitching showed up.

The offense will need to pick it up because the tests get tougher this week, first with the Mets coming to town for three games starting Monday night. The Phils are 50-82 against the Mets over the last seven seasons.

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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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Rockies 4, Phillies 3: Stunning loss on 2-out, 2-strike walk-off homer in 12th inning

Rockies 4, Phillies 3: Stunning loss on 2-out, 2-strike walk-off homer in 12th inning

BOX SCORE

DENVER — Charlie Blackmon's two-run homer in the bottom of the 12th against Juan Nicasio gave the Colorado Rockies a 4-3 win over the Phillies on Friday night.

The home run came with two outs on a 1-2 count.

Bryce Harper’s fifth hit of the game, a double to the gap in left-center with two outs in the top of the 12th inning, scored Phil Gosselin from first base and gave the Phils the lead.

The Phils had 17 hits, but only three for extra bases. The Phils were 1 for 16 with runners in scoring position and left 19 men on on base.

Those missed chances killed the Phillies.

Colorado has won two in a row against the Phils. The Phillies are 4-12 against the Rockies since the start of 2017.

The Phillies are 11-8.

The Rockies are 8-12.

In a troubling subplot, the Phillies lost two more players to injury. Andrew McCutchen exited with left knee inflammation in the sixth inning. Earlier Scott Kingery exited with a hamstring injury suffered while legging out a ground ball in the fourth inning. The team called it a “strain,” which would seem to signal a trip to the injured list for Kingery.

The keys

• Colorado right-hander German Marquez pitched a one-hit shutout with no walks and nine strikeouts against the Giants in his previous outing. The Phillies tripled that hits total in the first inning as they broke out to a 1-0 lead. They worked Marquez for 26 pitches in the inning and were into the Rockies’ bullpen in the sixth inning.

• Vince Velasquez pitched well for the Phillies. He carried a shutout and a 2-0 lead into the bottom of the sixth inning. But Velasquez had trouble putting away hitters in that frame. Trevor Story hit a 459-foot homer to left on an 0-2 fastball (96 mph) to make it a one-run game. Ian Desmond doubled on a 2-2 pitch with two outs and Garrett Hampson followed with a broken-bat double to left on a full-count fastball (97 mph) to tie the game.

• Catcher J.T. Realmuto cut down Blackmon trying to steal second with one out in the seventh. It was a big play in a tight game. Realmuto has caught three would-be base stealers in two nights.

Velasquez's night

The enigmatic right-hander continued to make strides with his third straight solid start. He gave up just the two runs in 5 2/3 innings and struck out eight. The only walk he surrendered was intentional. Over three starts, Velasquez has pitched 16 2/3 innings and given up just five runs. He seems to be pitching with more poise than in the past.

Velasquez had a big fastball and he used it often. Sixty-four of his 97 pitches were fastballs and he got 15 swinging strikes on the pitch, which topped out at 98 mph.

Health check

The Phillies have been beset by a series of injuries in recent days. Reliever David Robertson was placed on the injured list with an elbow strain. Odubel Herrera went on the IL with a hamstring strain. Jean Segura is not on the IL, but he has missed three straight games with a sore hamstring.

Injuries continued to mount as Kingery left this game in the fourth inning and McCutchen in the sixth.

Kingery started at shortstop. He was replaced by Gosselin.

Up next

Aaron Nola looks to break an early season slump when he faces the Rockies and right-hander Antonio Senzatela on Saturday night.

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