Milwaukee Brewers

Phillies 6, Brewers 4: Vince Velasquez leads big effort by the bullpen

Phillies 6, Brewers 4: Vince Velasquez leads big effort by the bullpen

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MILWAUKEE — The Phillies' hard-working bullpen delivered six shutout innings Friday night to help the team win the opener of a three-game series against the Milwaukee Brewers, 6-4, at Miller Park.

The Phils' bullpen has picked up 47 1/3 innings in the last 12 games.

Vince Velasquez made his first appearance of the season out of the bullpen and delivered two scoreless innings. Edgar Garcia, Seranthony Dominguez, Adam Morgan and Hector Neris (three K's) picked up the rest of the relief innings after starter Jerad Eickhoff failed to make it past the third inning.

Bryce Harper, Andrew McCutchen and Rhys Hoskins had big hits to put the Phils over the top.

The Phils are 3-2 on this seven-game trip. They are 30-21 overall.

The keys

• Harper tied the game with a double in the fifth, McCutchen put the Phils up by a run with a double in the sixth and Hoskins' ended a 15-game home run drought with an important one in the seventh.

• Velasquez entered a tie game in the fifth. He allowed a walk and a hit to the first two batters he faced then struck out four of the next five to finish with two scoreless frames. His shutdown work and the Phils' offense earned him the win.

• J.T Realmuto and shortstop Jean Segura hooked up for a big defensive play to end the fifth inning. The Brewers tried to execute a double steal and the catcher and shortstop both delivered perfect throws to cut the run and keep the game tied. The Phils took the lead in the next inning.

Eickhoff's night

Eickhoff gave up five hits, a walk and four runs over three innings. Four of the hits were for extra bases and two of them were homers. He has given up seven homers in his last three starts after giving up none in his first four.

Eickhoff had some bad luck in the first inning as Ryan Braun reached on a swinging bunt with two outs. Mike Moustakas then hopped on a curveball and stroked it for an RBI double.

Eickhoff gave up three damaging hits on fastballs, none of which were above 91 mph. Orlando Arcia hit one for a solo homer in the second. Christian Yelich hit a 3-2 fastball for his 20th homer in the third and Yasmani Grandal clubbed a 2-2 fastball for an RBI double after a two-out walk in the third.

Over his last three starts, Eickhoff has been tagged for 17 hits and 13 runs in 12 innings.

What's up with Pat?

Pat Neshek did not appear happy as he left the field after working out with the rest of the relievers late in the afternoon. He clearly was not available to pitch as he did not even report to the bullpen for the game. It's not immediately clear what the issue was.

(Update: Neshek has a sore shoulder and is headed back to Philadelphia, manager Gabe Kapler said after the game. He will go on the 10-day injured list.)

Transaction

Velasquez was activated from the IL and assigned to the bullpen, at least for the next few days. He or Nick Pivetta will start Tuesday. All the details here.

Health check

Roman Quinn has recovered from his groin strain. He is doing all baseball drills and working toward starting a minor-league rehabilitation assignment late next week, according to Kapler.

Up next

Jake Arrieta (4-4, 3.77) opposes Jhoulys Chacin (3-5, 4.65) on Saturday afternoon.

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'Action steps have to come' for Phillies after Brewers show what a top-tier offense looks like

'Action steps have to come' for Phillies after Brewers show what a top-tier offense looks like

There's no doubt that this week's series against the Brewers was a measuring stick for the Phillies and they came up short. After winning the opener, they were outscored 22-6 by a top-tier Milwaukee team that has one of the best lineups in baseball.

Phillies pitching struggled nearly every time through the Brewers' order Tuesday through Thursday. Christian Yelich hurt them. Ryan Braun killed them. Yasmani Grandal came up with runners in scoring position all week and made the Phils pay with a pair of three-run homers. Mike Moustakas had productive ABs. On Thursday, even Brewers pitcher Zach Davies got into the act with a double and an RBI bunt single.

The Phillies start another series with the Brewers a week from Friday. In between are three home games against the Rockies and four with the Cubs at Wrigley Field. This is a grueling stretch, the Phillies' toughest of the season.

And adjustments need to be made for them to maintain their lead on the rest of the NL East.

"Action steps have to come following a series like this," manager Gabe Kapler said, choosing not to expand until he had a longer look back at these four games. "You can't just sit on your hands and hope it's going to get better for the next series.

"We have to play very good baseball to beat teams like Milwaukee, Colorado and Chicago. We don't have the margin for error, most teams don't, when you play the best teams in the league."

This series highlighted a few things. It showed how much work the Phillies have to do to be a consistent, upper-echelon team. It showed how much better Yelich is than every hitter in the NL, including Bryce Harper. It showed that the Phillies, right now, just don't have enough players clicking at the plate.

"When we were really clicking or clicking better, as an offense, you'd get production from each part of the lineup — top, middle and end," Kapler said. "Right now, we're not getting that."

Kapler switched things up atop his order for the first time all season on Thursday, batting Harper second and Jean Segura third. It did work early. Segura homered in his first at-bat and drove in a run with a groundout in his second AB. Harper and Andrew McCutchen each reached base and scored a run in their second at-bats. 

The benefit of that 1-2-3 is that McCutchen and Harper each reach base at an extremely high clip and Segura is money with runners in scoring position with his ability to hit a ball wherever it's pitched and use the whole field.

The hindrance of that 1-2-3 is that, when J.T. Realmuto starts, it gives the Phillies three right-handed hitters in a row batting 3-4-5. That would make things a bit easier for opposing managers late in games.

The Phillies couldn't muster nearly enough offense against a Brewers team that scored at least one run in seven of nine innings Thursday (see observations). Get past Yelich and you have to deal with Braun. Get past Braun and the powerful lefty Moustakas and switch-hitting Grandal are waiting.

Zach Eflin fared better against the Brew Crew than Aaron Nola, Jerad Eickhoff and Jake Arrieta, but not by much. Eflin allowed four runs in five innings, walking two, hitting a batter and striking out seven. He kept the Phillies in the game and the score close but the bullpen did not.

Eflin said the pitches that hurt him most were those intended to leak back over the outside or inside corner but instead caught too much plate. He has earned the benefit of the doubt by excelling in six of his nine starts and bouncing back in a strong way after his only clunker April 13 in Miami.

Now, the Phillies move on to the Rockies, who are well-rested after off-days Monday and Thursday but may not have Trevor Story, who bruised his knee Wednesday in Boston. The Rockies are 20-22 but have a dangerous lineup, one nearly as potent as the Brewers'.

"If you don't do your job, you're going to get your butt kicked," McCutchen said of the Brewers series and the tough games that await the Phillies. "That's plain and simple. We can all agree here that we didn't play our best baseball and in return, we got our butt kicked. Nothing to cry over, we just have to show up and be ready to go tomorrow."

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Brewers 11, Phillies 3: Brewers slug out another win, prove Phillies still have a lot of work to do

Brewers 11, Phillies 3: Brewers slug out another win, prove Phillies still have a lot of work to do

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The Phillies' rearranged top of the order produced early runs but not nearly enough of them against a Brewers lineup that came to town in a bit of a funk before teeing off at Citizens Bank Park.

The Phils dropped this one Thursday, 11-3, and lost the final three games of the series after winning Monday's opener. They were outscored 22-6 in those three games.

Jean Segura, batting third, homered for a second straight game and drove in another run on a groundout. Bryce Harper, batting second for the first time as a Phillie, went 1 for 4 and scored a run.

But Milwaukee's offense was again too much, this time with the bottom of the order creating unexpected runs and another three-run homer from Yasmani Grandal, who seemed to come up with two men on in every at-bat this week.

The Phillies are 24-19 and 8-4-2 in their 14 series. They have a two-game lead over Atlanta heading into tonight's Braves-Cardinals game.

The Phils are 21-1 when they lead after six innings this season and 0-15 when they trail after six.

Up-and-down day for Eflin

Zach Eflin allowed four runs in five innings but was a bit more effective than that, with defense playing a role in two different run-scoring innings.

The first-inning home run Eflin allowed to Christian Yelich was on him — it was crushed to the bullpen in right-center.

In the third, opposing pitcher Zach Davies led off with a double and moved to third when Cesar Hernandez made the wrong decision on a groundball to second base. Hernandez aggressively went after the lead runner at third but Davies was safe, putting runners on the corners with nobody out and the heart of Milwaukee's order due up. Eflin popped Yelich up and was able to escape by allowing just one run.

An inning later with a man on third, Eflin's spikes appeared to get caught in the grass as he tried to field a bunt from Davies. It resulted in another run and Davies was safe at first.

As good as Eflin has been this season, he's allowed a league-high five hits to opposing pitchers, who are 5 for 14 with two doubles and a home run.

Eflin struck out seven and kept the Phillies in the game by escaping a few jams. In total, Phillies starting pitchers allowed 16 earned runs in 18 innings in the series.

Through nine starts, Eflin is 5-4 with a 2.91 ERA. His next start will be Tuesday at Wrigley Field against lefty Jose Quintana.

Another dominant series for Braun

No visiting player has ever done the kind of damage at Citizens Bank Park that Ryan Braun has, and it's remained that way even as he's declined. Braun has hit .261 overall the last three seasons but continues to pound the baseball every time he visits South Philadelphia.

Braun had two more hits Thursday afternoon and has 63 in 38 career games at CBP, where he's hit .420. In the series this week, he went 7 for 13 with a home run, four RBI and six runs scored. He reached base in 10 of 16 plate appearances.

The Brewers came to town with only one player, Yelich, clicking at the plate. They left with Lorenzo Cain, Braun and Grandal all heating up.

Kingery update

Scott Kingery had his rehab assignment transferred on Thursday from Class A Lakewood to Double A Reading, where the plan was for him to play nine innings at second base Thursday, then see time at third base and center field on Friday.

It looks as though Kingery could be recalled by the Phillies Saturday or Sunday. He will have missed nearly a month of big-league time after straining his hamstring on April 19.

Up next

In come the Rockies for a three-game series.

Friday night at 7:05 — Cole Irvin (1-0, 1.29) vs. Jon Gray (3-4, 4.25)

Saturday afternoon at 4:05 — Aaron Nola (3-0, 4.86) vs. Antonio Senzatela (3-2, 5.35)

Sunday afternoon at 1:05 — Jerad Eickhoff (2-2, 2.65) vs. LHP Kyle Freeland (2-5, 5.68)

While Coors Field has been a major challenge for the Phillies in recent years, they've played the Rockies well at home. The Phils are 16-10 against the Rockies at Citizens Bank Park dating back to 2012 and 6-4 in their last 10 meetings here.

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