Wilson Ramos is a huge difference-maker, but how much can Phillies ride him down the stretch?

Wilson Ramos is a huge difference-maker, but how much can Phillies ride him down the stretch?

TORONTO — Wilson Ramos’ importance to the Phillies was on full display in Sunday’s 8-3 win over the Blue Jays (see story).

The burly catcher had four hits, including a two-run homer, and three RBIs.

And he made a block and throw to third base for an out in the sixth inning that manager Gabe Kapler called a “game-changer.”

Ramos is 12 for 25 with five doubles, a triple, a homer and eight RBIs in six games with his new club.

Clearly, the offense-challenged Phillies need him to play a lot over the final 32 games.

But just how often can he go to his post?

The Phillies acquired Ramos at the end of July while he was still on the disabled list nursing a left hamstring strain. The club is still watching that hammy — and the right one, as well. Ramos said that one has been tight, too.

On top of it all, he missed time last week with a sore wrist that stemmed from his being crossed-up on a pitch from Jake Arrieta.

After Sunday’s win, Ramos said the wrist was fine.

But the 245-pound slab of granite admitted that his hamstrings need watching.

“I don’t feel 100 percent, but I can play sore,” he said. “For some reason, people call me the Buffalo. I’ve got that strength, so I play. I can play. I can support my team. I’m not ready to run 100 percent, but I can jog and play and that’s very important to me. If I can do a really good job on offense, it’s another good step.

“I want to play every day. I want to help my team make the playoffs. We’re in a good spot right now to make the playoffs, but I understand if they want to give me two days per week off that’s good because they want me to rest a little bit and get better. But I’ll talk to (manager Gabe Kapler) and try to tell him I’m ready to play, I’m ready to work.”

Kapler admitted that he was not certain how much he can ride Ramos the rest of the way.

“We're going to just check in with him every single day,” Kapler said. “We’ll ask him, ‘How are you doing? How is your body recovering?' Day games after a night game we're going to have to be careful with him.

“We'd love to ride him. We'd like to play him four times, five times a week if possible. A lot of that depends on how well he's recovering so we don't get overzealous and put him at risk in any way. Kind of like we did at the very beginning of the season, we're balancing winning today's baseball game with the long-term health and well being of our players. In this particular case with Ramos, it's balancing winning tomorrow with having him healthy through September and into October.”

Kapler said he likes the “calming” effect that Ramos has had on the pitchers.

Rhys Hoskins likes the work that Ramos has done with the bat.

“The thing that impresses me the most is that every time he swings he seems to barrel the ball,” Hoskins said. “He seems very selective at the plate. But when he decides to go, it’s loud. You hit in the middle of the lineup like that and you hope for extra-base hits.”

Ramos has given the Phillies a bunch of them in a short amount of time. 

And they need him to stay healthy so he can deliver more.

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Vince Velasquez on brutal loss to Marlins: 'I'm flat-out embarrassed'

Vince Velasquez on brutal loss to Marlins: 'I'm flat-out embarrassed'

MIAMI — The Phillies rolled into South Florida feeling really good about themselves after a two-game sweep of the Boston Red Sox. Phillies pitching held one of the best offenses in baseball to just four runs in that series and now it was time to keep the party going against one of the worst offenses in baseball.

For a while Friday night, the party rocked on and everyone was having a good ol' time.

Then, out of nowhere, the septic system backed up.

Actually, there was nothing wrong with the plumbing at Marlins Park, but you get the odious imagery. Phillies pitcher Vince Velasquez let a seven-run lead get away in the third inning and the Phils went on to suffer an embarrassing 19-11 loss to the lowly Miami Marlins in the heat of a playoff race.

It was the first time the Phils blew a 7-0 lead and lost since August 2003.

“Unacceptable,” manager Gabe Kapler said afterward. “That’s a game we have to win.”

The night could not have started any better for Velasquez. He allowed just one base runner in the first two innings and took a 7-0 lead into the bottom of the third.

The Marlins tagged him for seven runs in that inning to tie the game. They also overcame a 9-7 deficit in the fifth inning on their way to hanging a 19-spot on the Phils. It’s worth noting that the Marlins had lost 16 of their previous 19 and six in a row. They’d scored just 13 runs total in that six-game losing streak.

Their offense got well against Phillies pitching. The Marlins had seven extra-base hits, including four homers. The only Phillies pitchers not to give up runs were reliever Juan Nicasio, who threw just two pitches before leaving with a sore shoulder, and utility man Sean Rodriguez, who threw two pitches in mop-up duty.

In addition to the poor pitching, the Phils played poor defense, particularly at third base, where Brad Miller and Maikel Franco both struggled. Franco made an error that helped fuel the Marlins’ five-run fifth inning. Four of those runs were unearned.

But the biggest problem the Phillies had on Friday night was Velasquez.

“I take full responsibility for the outcome of the game,” he said. “As a pitcher you want that run support. What more do you want than a 7-zero lead and you end up giving it up.

“I feel pretty embarrassed and disappointed.

“It’s a good sign that the bats are still alive. That’s a great sign that everyone is pulling through offensively. But I’m embarrassed that I couldn’t hold the lead and do my job as a pitcher and help the team on my behalf. I think as a team, we have to continue what we’re doing offensively. I’m flat-out embarrassed on my end. There should be no excuses for that.”

Kapler called it a “tough, tough loss,” and added, “We go up, 7-0, and we just didn’t make enough pitches. We weren’t able to put hitters away. We weren’t making enough plays on defense. We let a team back in the game that we shouldn’t have let back in the game. It’s that simple.

“We have to do a better job. We have to find ways to do a better job and then we have to quickly turn the page and come back and be ready to play tomorrow. Probably the most important thing we can do right now is have a short memory. Understand that this one sucks and that we have to protect an early lead and be better than that, and then come back tomorrow and be ready to play again.”

The Marlins’ seven-run rally in the third started when Velasquez hit a batter with an 0-2 pitch. Velasquez hit two batters in that inning and gave up five hits, including a three-run homer. Two innings later, Nick Pivetta allowed a go-ahead, two-run double to Neil Walker on an 0-2 pitch. Pivetta was charged with five runs in that inning, but only one was earned after an error by Franco.

Kapler probably could have gotten Velasquez out of the game sooner as the Marlins were pouring it on in the third. He could have gone to lefty Ranger Suarez for the lefty-hitting Walker as Pivetta was teetering in the fifth.

The manager defended his work.

“I think you wanted to display some confidence in a pitcher that’s been pretty good for us, give him a chance to get out of that, give him a chance to give us a little bit of length and not have to burn through the bullpen,” he said of Velasquez. “At that point, we had still all agreed he was our best option to get outs. He just wasn’t able to get it done.”

As for Pivetta on Walker …

“We got him out of the game at the right time and brought Ranger in at the correct time,” Kapler said.

The Phillies, 2 1/2 games back in the wild-card race, needed to get greedy in this series, needed to play for the sweep. Now, they have to trust in struggling Zach Eflin on Saturday night before ace Aaron Nola goes on Sunday. The Phils have had a lot of problems with the Marlins this season. They are 6-8 against them. There are 35 games left and these next two games feel like must-wins.

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So much for that momentum — Phillies blow 7-run lead to Marlins, plummet to horrendous loss

So much for that momentum — Phillies blow 7-run lead to Marlins, plummet to horrendous loss


MIAMI — You’d be hard-pressed to find a more ugly, more frustrating, more infuriating performance by the Phillies this season than the one they turned in Friday night.

The Phils blew an early seven-run lead and lost, 19-11, to the lowly Miami Marlins.

It was the type of performance that just can’t happen from a team in a playoff race.

The Marlins came into the game having lost six in a row (they scored just 13 runs in those games) and 16 of their previous 19. They were ranked last in the majors in OPS (.661), second-to-last in runs per game (3.62) and third-to-last in batting average (.240). They proceeded to maul Phillies pitching for 19 hits and 19 runs. And to think, the Phillies were coming off two wins in Boston, where they held one of majors’ best hitting teams to four runs in those games.

Bryce Harper missed the game — he’s on paternity leave after his wife gave birth to a son — but the Phillies’ offense did not suffer. The Phils raced out to a 7-0 lead in the third inning only to see starter Vince Velasquez give it all back in the bottom of the third inning.

The Phils led 9-7 in the fifth and blew that lead, as well. The Marlins scored five times in that inning. Four of the runs were unearned. Even the defense was bad.

The Phils entered the night two games back in the NL wild card race.

Vinny Velo’s night

It was bad.

And the funny thing is, he’d actually made strides recently. Over his last five starts, he’d recorded a 3.21 ERA. He should have been able to protect a 7-0 lead, but he didn’t. He lost it quickly as the Marlins got him for five hits, including a homer, and seven runs in the third inning. Velasquez’ problems started when he hit the first batter of the inning, Lewis Brinson, with an 0-2 pitch.

Extra-base hits hurt

Velasquez was tagged for a game-tying, three-run homer by Isan Diaz in the third.

Reliever Nick Pivetta gave up a go-ahead, two-run double to Neil Walker in the fifth. That came on an 0-2 pitch. Manager Gabe Kapler had lefty Ranger Suarez up in the ‘pen with the lefty-hitting Walker at the plate. Kapler stuck with Pivetta and the right-hander could not put Walker away.

Starlin Castro came off the bench and homered twice for the Marlins, who had four homers in all.

Cold corner

The Phillies were hurt by two defensive miscues at third base. The biggie was Maikel Franco’s error on a potential double-play ball with one out in the fifth. It opened the floodgates for the Marlins to score five runs in that inning and take a 12-9 lead. Four of those runs were unearned.

Brad Miller started the game at third and failed to make a play on a ball hit by John Berti toward the line in the third inning. It wasn’t an easy play but it was probably makeable and it would have been the second out. It ended up being one of the five hits that Velasquez gave up in the inning.

Franco had just come back from a banishment to Triple A. He had an RBI single, but struggled badly at third base. In addition to making the error, he did not look good on two plays that were ruled hits.

Teams you can’t lose to

The Phillies are 6-8 against the Marlins this season.

To put that in perspective, here’s how the other teams in the NL East have fared against the Marlins so far this season:

Atlanta is 15-4.

The Mets are 11-4.

Washington is 10-3.

Players (get to wear ugly uniforms) Weekend

Both teams wore special uniforms — the Marlins wore all white, the Phillies all black — as part of Players Weekend. Players also wore nicknames on the back of their uniforms. 

Up next

Zach Eflin (7-11, 4.57) pitches against Miami right-hander Jordan Yamamoto (4-4, 4.31) on Saturday night.

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