Miami Marlins

Phillies enter All-Star break off 'solid' road trip ... but it could have been better

Phillies enter All-Star break off 'solid' road trip ... but it could have been better


MIAMI – There was no music and there were no smiles as Phillies players showered, dressed and headed out of the clubhouse for the All-Star break.

They knew they let one get away.

A road trip that started with the euphoria of two straight wins in Pittsburgh ended with consecutive losses against the lowly Miami Marlins, including an ugly one Sunday afternoon in which the Phillies blew a five-run lead on their way to a 10-5 defeat (see first take).

“This was not the prettiest series by any stretch,” manager Gabe Kapler said. “We'll acknowledge that.

“But it was still a solid all-around trip.”

It was. The Phillies played 11 games in 10 days and went 6-5.

But it could have been so much more than just solid considering that none of the teams the Phillies played have a winning record. It could have been so much better than just solid had the offense not been shut out twice, had it not averaged under three runs over the final 10 days, had it not bloomed briefly Sunday only to quickly wilt and not be heard from again.

On the plus side, the Phillies do go into the break leading the National League East.

But watch out in the rearview mirror. The Phils’ lead over the Atlanta Braves is just a half-game and third-place Washington is just 5 ½ back.

While Phillies players enjoy four days of rest and relaxation, the front office will be busy trying to ensure that the team stays in contention. The Phils remain hot and heavy after Manny Machado and Zach Britton. Landing those two talents from Baltimore could be a difference-maker in the division race and return the Phillies to the playoffs for the first time since 2011.

Everything was set up Sunday for the Phillies to go into the break on a high note. They led 5-0 after rallying for five runs against Miami starter Jose Urena in fourth inning. The Phils got four hits in the inning, including two for extra bases.

That was their entire offense for the day. There was no more and that was killer.

In the fifth inning, the Marlins rallied for eight runs to take the lead.

It all started with rookie Enyel De Los Santos, starting in place of Zach Eflin, who is out with a blister on his pitching hand, allowing five straight Marlins to reach base with one out. Cameron Maybin, the first batter to reach base, hit a solo homer and Brian Anderson, the fourth batter to reach, hit a three-run homer. Even after that, Kapler stuck with De Los Santos. The pitcher hit the next batter, J.T. Realmuto, and Kapler went to reliever Edubray Ramos with the score 5-4.

Did Kapler stick with De Los Santos too long?

“He's working such a low pitch count and really moving quickly through their lineup,” Kapler said. “For me, he was right where he needed to be. 

"I thought he pitched well up until the time he sort of just fell apart. It happened fast. I thought he did a good job of attacking the zone and working out of some jams early on. Overall, a solid performance by him. But it certainly didn't end the way he wanted it to end.”

Ramos and Adam Morgan both allowed two-out, two-run singles as the Marlins sent 13 men to the plate in the inning. But the Phillies could have gotten out of the inning with the lead had home plate umpire Todd Tichenor not called a ball on a full-count pitch to Martin Prado. The pitch was close, so close that it appeared to be a strike on replays. If the Ramos gets that pitch, the inning is over and the Phils are still up, 5-4.

“I thought it was a strike,” Ramos said. “It changed the inning completely. I thought I’d be out of the inning. But there’s nothing you can do about it.”

Catcher Andrew Knapp said, “I had it as a strike. He (the umpire) said it was down.”

There was another play in the inning that might have preserved the Phillies’ lead. First baseman Carlos Santana recorded a putout for the second out and 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 an inning-ending double play had he been thinking that way, but the play did stand out for the wrong reasons.

After the game, Santana acknowledged that he forgot how many outs there were.

“That can’t happen,” he said.

But he also said he would have had no chance at a double play, and Kapler agreed.

“It’s tough,” Kapler said. “The way I saw it, it was probably a one-out play. Obviously, losing track of the outs is something that can't happen. But he's one of our most locked-in and focused players most of the time. I think he's earned a pass on this one.”

There will be no passes for the Phillies in the second half. When they return Friday, they will be in the heat of a pennant race and every phase of their game will be tested.

Rest up, boys. This thing is only just getting started.

“We're still going into the break in first place,” Kapler said. “I think that's going to feel good to our club. Our club needs a break. This is going to be a good, solid break for us.”

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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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Phillies' shutout loss to Marlins magnifies need for Manny Machado trade

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Phillies' shutout loss to Marlins magnifies need for Manny Machado trade


MIAMI — This was a game that magnified a Phillies’ weakness, a game that begged for some offensive pop, a game that cried out for …

Manny Machado.

As trade speculation surrounding the Baltimore slugger continued to simmer, the Phillies wasted a strong pitching performance by Aaron Nola and the bullpen in a 2-0 loss to the lowly Miami Marlins on Saturday afternoon (see First Take).

The Phillies out-hit the Marlins, 8-4, but had just one extra-base hit. They had 10 base runners on the day. A big hit here or there and it might have been a different outcome.

Despite winning six of the first 10 games on this 11-game roadtrip, the Phillies have been shut out twice in the last four games and held to just 24 runs in the last nine. For the season, they have a .391 slugging percentage, which ranks 23rd in the majors. They rank 17th in homers with 104.

The Phils need more pop.

They know that.

That’s why they are one of the most aggressive participants in the Machado sweepstakes. Machado entered Saturday night with 23 homers and 64 RBIs and a .951 OPS.

Manager Gabe Kapler is not worried about the power.

He says more is coming.

Does he know something we don't?

“I can say that I have a lot of confidence going forward that we'll produce power,” he said. “We have pop. We have strength. Our guys have hit for power in the past. Rhys (Hoskins) definitely has another stretch of power coming. Odubel (Herrera) has another stretch of power coming. Carlos (Santana) has another stretch of power coming. Sometimes, these things ebb and flow. But these guys have produced power in the past. So we expect that there's going to be more power coming.”

Maybe more of that power will come from Machado.

Despite the loss, the Phillies remained in first place in the NL East, 1 ½ games ahead of Atlanta, which has lost eight of its last 10 games, and 6 ½ games ahead of Washington. Before Saturday’s game, Phillies club president Andy MacPhail indicated that the division was winnable and said the club was looking to augment its roster (see story). He did not mention Machado by name — there are rules against that — but it’s clear that the Phillies want him.

Stay tuned on that one.

The Phillies will finish up their road trip and head into the All-Star break after Sunday’s game against the Marlins. The Phils still have a chance to win the series, but they will have to do it with rookie Enyel De Los Santos on the mound and not Zach Eflin. Eflin has battled a stubborn blister on his right middle finger. The Phils want to give it a chance to heal so he was scratched as Sunday’s scheduled starter and placed on the disabled list. The problem should be gone by the time he makes his first start after the All-Star break. In the meantime, the Phillies — and everyone else — get another look at De Los Santos, who won his big-league debut against the Mets with 6 1/3 innings of three-run ball Tuesday. It would not be out of the question for the Phillies to use De Los Santos in a trade.

The Phillies will need to give De Los Santos more offensive help than they gave Nola on Saturday. The Phillies had not lost a game started by Nola since June 6 and the right-hander had not personally lost since May 20.

Nola had an interesting start. He labored through the first inning and gave up two runs while throwing 31 pitches. Over the next five innings, however, he did not allow a run while giving up just one hit and throwing an economical 62 pitches. In other words, he was Nola.

“I just put my head down and kept pitching,” he said.

Nola kept his team in the game, but the offense never arrived to bail him out. Miami right-hander Trevor Richards, who entered with an ERA over 5.00, held the Phils to four hits over six shutout innings.

“I thought Noles was excellent again today,” Kapler said. “Obviously, the first inning, there was a lot of work. Some balls found some holes. That turned out to be enough to beat us. But I still thought he had a tremendous first half. Man, was he dependable from the very beginning of the season all the way till today.”

Nola heads to the All-Star Game at 12-3 with a 2.30 ERA in 20 starts. He had an excellent first half and so has the team. Even with a loss Sunday, the Phils will go into the break in first place.

“This team’s been playing pretty well,” Nola said. “Unfortunately, we took the loss today but we’re going for a series win tomorrow. I think to get that before the break is pretty important.”

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