Takeaways after Phillies hit 5 homers — including a wacky one — in win over Braves

Takeaways after Phillies hit 5 homers — including a wacky one — in win over Braves

BOX SCORE 

The Phillies beat the Atlanta Braves at their own game Tuesday night.

The Phillies matched a season-high with five home runs and those long balls accounted for all their runs in a 6-5 win in front of just 24,220 at Citizens Bank Park.

The homers came early and often for the Phillies. J.T. Realmuto, Bryce Harper and Corey Dickerson all went deep in the first inning as the Phillies build an early 4-0 lead.

After the Braves tied the game, Scott Kingery smacked an inside-the-park homer in the third inning to give the Phillies a lead. Ultimately, the Phils needed Dickerson’s second homer of the night, a solo shot in the sixth, and lots of good relief pitching, to hold off the Braves.

The Phillies entered the game ranked 11th in the NL with 186 homers. The Braves were second with 229. The Phils ended up out-homering the Braves, 5-1.

The standings

With 18 games left, the Phillies are still alive in a crowded NL wild-card race. They entered the day three games out and could pick up a game depending on the outcome of the Chicago Cubs game in San Diego.

Two extremes of pitching

Phillies starter Jason Vargas struggled. He could not hold a 4-0 lead. He lasted just three innings and threw 77 pitches, only 39 of which were strikes.

Vargas’ mates got him the lead before he officially left the game, then the bullpen did a terrific job protecting that lead. Gabe Kapler used five relievers and they racked up six innings of one-run ball to seal the win.

Jared Hughes had one of the biggest outs when he got dangerous Josh Donaldson to ground into a double play to end the top of the seventh. He then allowed a homer to make it a one-run game in the eighth.

Hector Neris protected the lead for the save.

Blake Parker pitched two scoreless innings.

Oh, what a catch! … No wait!

With two outs in the third inning and the game tied at 4-4, Kingery drove a high fly ball to center. The ball cleared the wall, but Atlanta centerfielder Ronald Acuna Jr. was able to leap and get his glove in the ball. He had the ball in the pocket of his glove and brought it back onto the field but could not hold on to it for a catch. Robbed of a conventional homer, Kingery alertly continued to run and he made it all the way around the bases for an inside-the-park home run.

Kingery’s 19th homer gave the Phils a 5-4 lead.

Heck of a pickup

General manager Matt Klentak has taken much criticism for not doing enough to fortify the pitching staff at the trade deadline, but he picked up a difference-making bat. Dickerson has eight homers and 34 RBIs in 33 games with the Phillies.

Defense shines

Phillies starter Vargas allowed six base runners and four runs as the Braves erased a four-run deficit in the third inning. The damage could have been worse if it weren’t for Kingery and Harper. They both made defensive gems in the inning, Kingery a diving catch in the alley with the bases full and Harper a long throw from right field to third base to cut down a runner.

The strong defense continued in the top of the sixth when Realmuto gunned down Acuna Jr., trying to steal second with two outs. Realmuto has thrown out 36 runners trying to steal this season.

Health check

Reliever Seranthony Dominguez continues to test his injured elbow. He will toss out to 90 feet this week and is tentatively scheduled to throw off a bullpen mound on Sept. 20. Dominguez has been down since early June, but doctors still believe his injury can be treated non-surgically.

Pat Neshek, who was already out for the season, had surgery to repair a torn hamstring on Tuesday.

Up next

Zach Eflin (8-11, 4.31) opposes Dallas Keuchel (7-5, 3.47) in the third game of the four-game series on Wednesday night. Eflin has pitched well in his last three starts. He has allowed just five earned runs and 15 hits in 18 innings while striking out 11 and walking just one over that span. Eflin’s recent success has coincided with his increased use of his two-seam fastball.



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Will the Phillies be without valuable reliever Seranthony Dominguez next season, too?

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USA Today Images

Will the Phillies be without valuable reliever Seranthony Dominguez next season, too?

Phillies reliever Seranthony Dominguez experienced some soreness in his injured right elbow during his last throwing session.

You don’t need a degree in Sports Medicine to know where this could be headed.

Nor do you need to be a rehab specialist to know what it could mean for next season.

According to manager Gabe Kapler, Dominguez will be examined next week by orthopedic surgeon Michael Ciccotti, the Phillies’ longtime head of medical services. A course of action will be determined after that examination.

This doesn’t sound good, and here’s why:

Dominguez, 24, has not pitched in nearly three months. The hard-throwing right-hander left the Phillies' June 5 game at San Diego with pain in his elbow. Two days later, general manager Matt Klentak said that Dominguez had sustained “damage” to his ulnar collateral ligament. Klentak added that Tommy John surgery was a possibility pending a second opinion.

It’s worth noting that general managers don’t throw these words around unless they’re pretty convinced that surgery will be needed.

Dominguez got his second opinion from all-star orthopedist James Andrews and, surprisingly, surgery was not recommended. Andrews treated Dominguez with a PRP injection and prescribed a rest and rehab program that left the Phillies hoping that Dominguez might actually come back and pitch this season.

That’s not happening now, and given the initial diagnosis of  UCL damage, and the pitcher's lack of progress over nearly three months, one would suspect that surgery is a strong possibility.

If Dominguez does indeed need Tommy John surgery, he will require up to a year of recovery time and that will put him out for most, if not all, of next season. That will be a blow to the team because Dominguez is a real talent, one the Phillies hoped to build their bullpen around.

Already, the 2020 season is off to a bad start in the bullpen. David Robertson, whose two-year, $23 million contract runs through next season, could miss all or most of 2020 after having Tommy John surgery earlier this month.

Injuries have crippled the Phillies’ bullpen this season and Dominguez has been one of the team’s biggest losses. The Phils have eight relievers on the injured list with just Hector Neris and Jose Alvarez remaining from the season-opening bullpen.

Tommy Hunter and Pat Neshek are done for the season. Adam Morgan is out with a flexor injury in his left elbow and Kapler said it’s likely that he’s done for the season.

On the starting pitching front, Jake Arrieta had his elbow surgically cleaned out earlier this week. Kapler said the pitcher had a couple of bone spurs and some loose bodies removed.

“He definitely gutted it out and pitched through some real challenges,” Kapler said.

Arrieta is expected to be ready to go for spring training.

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Phillies finally get some encouraging injury news on Seranthony Dominguez, Roman Quinn, others

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USA Today Images/Bill Streicher

Phillies finally get some encouraging injury news on Seranthony Dominguez, Roman Quinn, others

ATLANTA — The Phillies are actually getting good news on the injury front, for a change.

Reliever Seranthony Dominguez, who seemed likely to undergo Tommy John surgery on his sore right elbow and said earlier in the week he was hoping for a miracle, will not go under the knife. At least not now.

Dominguez had a PRP injection from Dr. James Andrews on Wednesday. He will be reevaluated in three weeks and if all goes well, could be throwing again in 4-to-6 weeks. 

"It is incredibly encouraging news, just the idea that we could have him back and contributing at some point for us later in the season is comforting," manager Gabe Kapler said Friday. "I know it's comforting for Seranthony. It's as good of news as we could hope to expect."

This doesn't mean that Dominguez is totally out of the woods. There have been examples in recent years of a pitcher still eventually needing surgery after having a PRP injection. There have also been examples like Aaron Nola, Masahiro Tanaka, David Price and Stephen Strasburg, who continued to pitch effectively after having a PRP injection.

• Tommy Hunter, who hasn't pitched this season because of a flexor strain, is scheduled to begin his rehab assignment Monday with Clearwater. When he's ready to go, the Phillies will be welcoming a fresh reliever to the back end of their 'pen.

• David Robertson (flexor strain) is "progressing well," according to Kapler. He's thrown three times off of flat ground and is encouraged by his progress. The next step would be throwing off of a bullpen mound, though that is not imminent just yet.

• Pat Neshek (shoulder) had a good sweat going after throwing a bullpen session Friday in Atlanta. He could be activated as early as Sunday.

Adam Morgan (flexor strain) is scheduled to throw another 'pen session Sunday and could be back late next week if all goes well.

• Roman Quinn (groin) will play nine innings with Double A Reading on Friday night. He and Kapler will communicate after the game to figure out when Quinn will be activated.

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