Ranger Suarez

Phillies 3, Braves 1: Cesar Hernandez homers in win, possible Phillies’ swan song

Phillies 3, Braves 1: Cesar Hernandez homers in win, possible Phillies’ swan song

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Cesar Hernandez and Freddy Galvis signed with the Phillies on the same summer day in 2006.

Last offseason, Galvis’ long run with the team ended when he was traded to San Diego for pitcher Enyel De Los Santos.

This offseason, it could be Hernandez’s turn to go. The veteran second baseman has been available in trades the last two winters, but no team has met the Phillies’ high price.

The price could be lower now as the Phillies look to clear a spot at second base for Scott Kingery.

Hernandez, a regular at second base for four seasons, started at his customary spot for the Phillies in Sunday’s season finale and if it was his last game with the club, he went out in style. He led off the bottom of the first inning with his 15th homer, a career-high, to help the Phillies beat the Atlanta Braves, 3-1, at Citizens Bank Park.

Salvage city

The Phils ended up winning their final two games of the season after losing nine straight.

They finished the season 80-82 — third-place in the NL East. They had 14 more wins than last season. But it could have been so much better. They went 16-33 after being 15 games over .500 and leading the NL East by 1½ game on Aug. 7.

The Phils have had six straight losing seasons.

Sneak peak

Manager Gabe Kapler used eight pitchers on the final day. Lefty Ranger Suarez allowed one run over three innings. He struck out five and walked two. Suarez looks to have an idea of what he’s doing. He will be in the mix for more work next season. He was coveted by Baltimore in mid-season trade talks involving Manny Machado.

The experiment continues

Carlos Santana started at third base for the 16th time this month and Rhys Hoskins played first base.

The Phils first started using Santana at third so they could get Justin Bour’s bat in the lineup at first base. Then they kept him there and moved Hoskins from left field to first base so they could improve their outfield defense.

Moving parts aside, Santana got the job done at third base. He made an eye-popping play last week in Denver another Sunday.

Santana won’t win a Gold Glove and won’t dazzle with his range. There might be times when his defense hurts the club. But with the Phillies likely to make a run at free-agent outfielder Bryce Harper this winter, playing Santana at third next season and keeping Hoskins at his natural first base position definitely appears to be a consideration. Why else would the team have taken the month to evaluate Santana at the position?

Santana is open to playing anywhere, as long as he is in the lineup (see story).

“We don’t know the answer to that yet,” general manager Matt Klentak said of the situation. “A lot of that may depend on other roster mechanics this offseason. But we can be a winning baseball team with (Santana and Hoskins) on the roster.”

At the turnstiles

A crowd of 34,202 was in the house on fan-appreciation day Sunday. That left the Phils with a final home attendance of 2,155,695. That does not include the “home” game that the Phils played against the Mets in Williamsport.

The Phils drew 1,905,354 last season. That had not reached 2 million in attendance since 2014.

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Sloppy Phillies suffer embarrassing 24-4 loss to Mets in Game 1 of doubleheader

Sloppy Phillies suffer embarrassing 24-4 loss to Mets in Game 1 of doubleheader

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This was about as ugly as it can get.

Less than 24 hours after one of their best wins of the season, the Phillies turned in an absolutely embarrassing performance in losing, 24-4, to the New York Mets in the first game of a doubleheader at Citizens Bank Park on Thursday.

The Phillies made four errors in the ballgame and allowed 11 unearned runs, the most since they allowed a club-record 12 in a game during the 1923 season.

Things got so ugly that the Phillies had to use two position players, Roman Quinn and Scott Kingery, to pitch the final three innings.

Quinn, who has a long injury history, got through 1 2/3 innings and 42 pitches healthy, but he was tagged for six hits, two walks and seven runs.

Kingery allowed two runs in the ninth inning. He lobbed the ball so slowly that it did not register on the stadium radar gun. Mets hitters dug in and teed off. Players in the Mets’ dugout giggled. Fans, who had booed earlier in the day, also giggled as the game was reduced to a comic act. The whole thing was an embarrassment to the sport (see Gabe Kapler's reaction). And to think, it came one day after the Phillies came back from three runs down to beat the Boston Red Sox, 7-4. Boston is far and away the majors' best team.

The Mets pulverized Phillies pitching for 25 hits. The Mets had 11 extra-base hits, including three homers.

Rookie lefty Ranger Suarez was called up from Triple A to start the first game of the doubleheader. He was hit hard to the tune of 11 hits and eight runs in four innings. Half of the runs Suarez allowed were unearned.

Mark Leiter Jr., also recalled earlier in the day from Triple A, was tagged for seven runs in the fifth inning. All the runs were unearned.

Maikel Franco made a pair of errors at third base. Catcher Jorge Alfaro made a throwing error and Rhys Hoskins dropped a ball in left field for another error. All the errors set up runs — multiples of them.

Poor defense is nothing new for these Phillies. They entered the game ranked second to last in the majors in defensive runs saved (minus-85), according to Fangraphs. Only Baltimore at minus-95 was worse.

The four errors gave the Phils 92 on the season, tying them with St. Louis for most in the majors.

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Carlos Santana still the Phillies' regular first baseman; Zach Eflin ready for start vs. Mets Thursday

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Carlos Santana still the Phillies' regular first baseman; Zach Eflin ready for start vs. Mets Thursday

Wilson Ramos wasn’t the only newcomer in the Phillies’ starting lineup on Wednesday night.

Justin Bour, acquired last week from Miami, got his first start with his new club. He played first base and batted second.

Bour got the start over Carlos Santana, who has been a polarizing player in his first year of a three-year, $60 million contract.

Santana’s supporters, which include the front office and manager Gabe Kapler, love the way he works counts and gets on base. His on-base percentage is .349 and his 66 RBIs are second-most on the club.

Santana’s detractors see his .214 batting average and want more.

Both sides have a point.

Don’t get used to seeing Bour at first base. Kapler reiterated before the game that the Phils acquired Bour to be a difference-making bat off the bench. Kapler wants to get Bour an occasional start — like Wednesday night — to keep him sharp for pinch-hitting assignments.

“Santana's going to play every day,” Kapler said. “Santana's going to play regularly.”

But what if Bour’s bat gets hotter than a habanero?

“Bour is going to be a weapon off the bench for us,” Kapler said. “Look, we can't see the future in its entirety. Santana's going to play every day. Right now, Bour is a weapon off the bench for us. He can start for us occasionally.”

Ramos, acquired at the trade deadline, was activated from the disabled list, started behind the plate and batted sixth. To make room for him on the roster, the Phillies sent catcher Andrew Knapp to Triple A.

Eflin ready 

Zach Eflin and Ranger Suarez will be the starters in Thursday’s doubleheader against the Mets. Suarez will start the first game and Eflin will start the second. 

Suarez will be promoted from Triple A for the start. The Phillies will have to clear a roster spot for him.

Eflin is technically on the Triple A roster after being optioned on Sunday. He will be added to the roster as the 26th man. Teams are allowed to have an extra player for a doubleheader.

Eflin will go back to Triple A on Friday and return after his 10-day option assignment is complete early next week. He will not miss a big-league start.

Sending Eflin to the minors was a controversial move as it cost him about $20,000 in pay and big-league service time. The Phillies sent Eflin out because they wanted to carry an extra man and the 26th roster spot and a day off on Monday allowed them to assign Eflin to the minors without him missing a turn in the big-league rotation.

Eflin was not happy with the move, but he said he understood it. He and Kapler had breakfast together in Philadelphia earlier in the week and talked out the situation.

“It’s been different being away from the team, but at the end of the day we all understand the move,” Eflin said. “It just wasn’t too easy to swallow. The only thing you can do is be positive and move forward and use it as motivation.

“I think what everyone is focused on is me losing service time or losing money, but the only thing I’ve been worried about the whole time is being away from my teammates and losing those eight days of relationships in the middle of a pennant race. That’s what affected me the most. I could not care less about the money I missed or the days I missed. It’s more about the relationships and the brothers you have in this clubhouse that I was missing out on.”

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