Gabe Kapler

Phillies implode in 5th inning in loss to Marlins

Phillies implode in 5th inning in loss to Marlins


MIAMI – This one hurt. No doubt about it. It hurt.

The Phillies blew a five-run lead in the fifth inning Sunday afternoon and ended up with a 10-5 loss against the Miami Marlins.

The defeat meant the Phillies lost the three game-series to the lowly Marlins. The Phils won Friday night’s game then lost two in a row.

The loss meant they finished an 11-game roadtrip with a 6-5 record, not bad, but certainly not as good as it could have been considering none of the four teams that the Phils played on the trip has a winning record.

The loss meant that the Phillies will head into the four-day All-Star break on a down note, though they are still ahead of where they were expected to be when the season started. The Phils are 53-42 and lead the NL East, though their advantage could be down to a half-game depending on the outcome of Atlanta's game Sunday afternoon.

After being shut out on Saturday, the Phillies erupted for five runs in the fourth inning Sunday. The Phils sent nine men to the plate in the inning against Marlins starter Jose Urena. Maikel Franco and Scott Kingery contributed RBI singles and Cesar Hernandez delivered a huge three-run triple with two outs in the frame.

Manager Gabe Kapler was ready to pinch-hit for rookie starter Enyel De Los Santos to keep the rally alive, but once the Phils scored two runs Kapler let De Los Santos hit. Though De Los Santos struck out, the rally stayed alive.

De Los Santos, making his second big-league start as the Phillies placed Zach Eflin on the disabled list with a blister on his pitching hand, cruised through the bottom of the fourth, but hit turbulence in the bottom of the fifth inning.

He allowed five straight Marlins to reach base with one out on two singles, two homers and a hit batsman. Cameron Maybin hit a solo homer and Brian Anderson a three-run homer.

Edubray Ramos relieved De Los Santos and appeared to get the third out of the inning with the Phillies still up a run, but his full-count pitch to Martin Prado was ruled a ball, keeping the rally alive, and the Marlins scored four more times in the inning on RBI singles by Miguel Rojas and Justin Bour against Ramos and Adam Morgan, respectively.

Earlier in the inning, first baseman Carlos Santana recorded a putout for the second out. Santana started to run to the dugout as if he thought it was the third out. It was not clear whether Santana would have had a shot at a double play had he been thinking that way, but the play did stand out for the wrong reasons.

Defense hurt the Phillies later in the game when catcher Andrew Knapp’s second passed ball of the game resulted in a Miami run.

Despite scoring five runs, the Phillies’ offense was not good. All the runs came in one inning as did all of the team’s four hits. Otherwise, nothing. That’s a concern. The Phillies averaged just 2.9 runs per game in the final 10 games of the trip.

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Defense comes through for Jake Arrieta as Phillies increase lead in NL East

Defense comes through for Jake Arrieta as Phillies increase lead in NL East


MIAMI — With an average age of 26 years and seven months, the Phillies have the youngest roster in the majors. Youth particularly stands out on the starting pitching staff. Vince Velasquez turned 26 last month. Aaron Nola turned 25 last month. Nick Pivetta is 25. Zach Eflin is 24.

None of these pitchers have ever performed in the crucible that is a pennant race. Of course, they are about to. With two games to play before the All-Star break, the Phillies are leading the National League East and when they come back from the break next week, the pennant race will be on.

That’s why Jake Arrieta is so important to this club. He is 32. He has won a Cy Young Award. He has pitched in pennant races and the World Series. The Phillies’ young staff, so far a great strength in this surprising season, is going to need his been-there-done-that guidance and production in the second half.

If Arrieta’s final start before the break was any indication, he’s ready to deliver.

The right-hander tossed seven shutout innings to lead a 2-0 win over the Miami Marlins on Friday night (see first take).

“What an incredible performance,” manager Gabe Kapler said of Arrieta’s work. “Jake's very aware. He understands what's going on around him. So he knows that our bullpen has been stressed. He knows that we don't have off days. He knows that we're inching toward the break. And he said, 'You can climb on my back.' I really believe that was what he demonstrated today. He wanted to reassure our team that we could ride him and we could depend on him. He was just that, a stable and strong force for us.”

The victory was the Phillies' 12th in the last 16 games as they improved to 53-40 — a season-best 13 games over .500 — and added a game to their lead over Altanta in the NL East. They lead the division by 1½ games. They are nine games into an 11-game road trip that will take them into the All-Star break. They are 6-3 on the trip with Nola and Eflin slated to pitch the final two games before the break.

Arrieta has pitched well in both of his starts on this trip. He pitched seven innings of two-run ball Saturday night in Pittsburgh.

The Phillies need him to continue to pitch this way, or, to use Kapler’s expression, put the team on his back every fifth day.

“I’m comfortable in that position,” Arrieta said. “It’s good for Vinnie, Pivetta, Nola, Eflin to see that. We’re trying to win this division. It’s a next-man-up kind of thing. Let’s have a nice outing and use that as momentum moving forward and have the next guy carry the torch and pass to the next guy. That’s how the best teams do it. They thrive off of their teammates' success. It’s a competition within the group, within the five of us, and we just want to keep it rolling.

“It’s our job to keep it close and give our offense the ability to put some runs on the board.”

The Phillies did not put a lot of runs on the board. Aaron Altherr, a right-handed bat, got a start against lefty Wei-Yin Chen and came through with an RBI double in the second inning. Maikel Franco swatted his third homer in six games to give the Phils some padding in the ninth.

Arrieta said he did not have his best stuff. He benefitted from two double plays and one of the best defensive plays the Phillies have turned all season. The play occurred in the sixth inning with the Phils up, 1-0. Altherr, who moments earlier had moved from center field to right field for defensive reasons, grabbed Derek Dietrich’s scorched liner off the wall and made a perfect relay throw to Scott Kingery. The Phillies shortstop then fired a strike to catcher Jorge Alfaro, who applied a quick tag on Cameron Maybin as he tried to score the tying run from first base.

Dietrich’s shot to right missed being a two-run homer by a couple of inches. Maybin did not slide. Sure, those two things went the Phillies’ way, but the defensive execution was perfect, and Arrieta, who had been thwarted by poor defense a number of times in previous starts, deserved it.

Arrieta got a good view of the play as he backed up home plate.

“I’m like, ‘This run is going to score. It’s going to be 1-1,'" Arrieta said. “You know, not a terrible spot to be, but you obviously don’t want that to take place. To have that point of view from where I was and to see it unfold like that — it’s a fraction of a fraction of a second that accounts for the guy being out or safe. Everything has to go right. Altherr has to play it off the wall well, make a nice throw to Kingery, who has to make a nice throw to Alfaro. Alfaro has to catch and tag in the same motion. So to be able to see that unfold was really cool.

“Not an easy play at all. That was huge.”

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Phillies have World Series heroes Chase Utley and Brad Lidge on their minds

Phillies have World Series heroes Chase Utley and Brad Lidge on their minds

MIAMI — Ten years later, reminders of the Phillies’ 2008 World Series championship popped up all over the place on Friday. 

Brad Lidge, the man who threw the final, clinching pitch in the World Series, began a weekend visit with the team in Miami.

And across the country in Los Angeles, Chase Utley, the man — or The Man, as Harry Kalas used to say — who starred at second base and in the middle of the batting order for that team, announced that he will retire from the game at season’s end (see story).

Utley, 39, was a six-time All-Star during a 13-year run with the Phillies and one of the most popular athletes ever in Philadelphia. He was traded to the Dodgers in August 2015 and will come through town one more time as a player later this month — July 23-25 — when the Dodgers visit Citizens Bank Park.

Utley hit 233 homers with the Phillies. The first one foreshadowed his remarkable time with the club. It was a grand slam — his first big-league hit, as a matter of fact — on April 24, 2003, against Aaron Cook in a 9-1 win over the Colorado Rockies at Veterans Stadium.

The grand slam landed in the Phillies’ bullpen beyond the right-field wall, sailing over the head of Rockies rightfielder Gabe Kapler.

Yes, him.

“It was kind of an announcement of who he was going to be in his career,” Kapler said, recalling the moment on Friday. “I remember it well. I remember sprinting back to the wall. I remember the turf. I said to myself, ‘This is going to be an excellent baseball player,’ but that’s nothing everybody else wasn’t saying as well dating back to Chase's college days.”

Lidge was with the Phillies on Friday to reprise his spring-training role as guest instructor. He will be around the clubhouse and on the field pregame throughout the weekend series.

Kapler is hopeful his relievers can glean some helpful insights from Lidge that can be used in a pennant race. Lidge, of course, was perfect in 48 save chances during the Phillies’ title season in 2008.

“It’s totally informal, just having him around and imparting his wisdom on our young relievers,” Kapler said. “He’s incredibly valuable in that regard. His experience is something we can all benefit from.

“We just want him around. He lights up a room. He’s great to be around, a positive influence all around.”

Kapler was asked if there was one thing he’d like his relievers to learn from Lidge.

“Mentality with the game on the line in the highest leverage situation on the biggest stage with the brightest lights and what it’s like to be in that situation,” Kapler said. “And maybe some tips on how to calm your heart rate, how to maintain your composure, things of that nature.”

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