Tag Archives: Chase Utley

Look back at the Phillies in the MLB All-Star Game during the 2010’s

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On right, Victorino, Polanco, Lee, Hamels repped Phillies in 2011

On Tuesday night, Major League Baseball will celebrate many of it’s top names with the playing of the All-Star Game at Progressive Field in Cleveland, Ohio.

For Phillies fans, this 90th version of the Midsummer Classic will feature just one member of their favorite ball club. That has been the case in most recent years with the team usually in a non-contending position.
However, this second decade of the 21st century did not begin that way. When the decade opened, the Phillies were on top of the National League. The were two-time defending NL champions, had been legitimate contenders for most of the previous decade, and featured a star-studded lineup and pitching staff.
In the 2010 MLB All-Star Game at Angel Stadium of Anaheim, the Phillies had three representatives. First baseman Ryan Howard started and batted in the cleanup spot for the NL squad. Second baseman Chase Utley was voted as the starting NL second baseman for a fifth consecutive year, but sprained his thumb in late June and had to miss the game. Roy Halladay was one of the NL reserve pitchers.
Howard went 0-2 that night, striking out to leadoff the top of the 2nd inning against David Price. Halladay came on to pitch in the bottom of the 6th inning. He surrendered a leadoff single to Derek Jeter, but then got Paul Konerko to roll into a double play. After giving up a base hit to Josh Hamilton, the Phillies righty was lifted by manager Charlie Manuel.
The 2011 MLB All-Star Game was played at Chase Field in Phoenix, home of the Arizona Diamondbacks. For the first time since 2004, no Phillies position players were voted in as starters. However, Halladay was selected to start on the mound for the National League.
After Doc pitched two perfect innings, he was followed to the mound by rotation mate Cliff Lee. The Phillies lefty would retire the first five batters he faced before Adrian Gonzalez homered with two outs in the top of the 4th inning. It would be the only run allowed by NL pitching in a 5-1 victory.
The Phillies had three more All-Stars in 2011, but none got into the game. Those three were pitcher Cole Hamels, third baseman Placido Polanco, and center fielder Shane Victorino.
Interesting note: Also on that 2011 NL All-Star squad were Andrew McCutchenJay Bruce, and Hunter Pence. The latter would be dealt to the Phillies at the end of that month. For Cutch it was the first of five consecutive appearances as a member of the Pittsburgh Pirates. Bruce was enjoying his first of two straight and three overall with the Cincinnati Reds.
By the 2012 MLB All-Star Game, the Phillies fortunes were waning. After winning the NL East Division for five consecutive seasons, the club sat at 37-50 at the All-Star break. That was last place in the division, 14 games out of first. They would make a second-half run to finish at 81-81, finishing in 3rd. For the first time since 2003, no Phillies appeared in the NL starting lineup.
Despite the struggles, that team still placed three players on the team: Hamels, catcher Carlos Ruiz, and new closer Jonathan Papelbon. The NL squad also featured an exciting 19-year-old phenom outfielder named Bryce Harper, who was making his first of a half-dozen all-star appearances over the next seven seasons with Washington.
Ruiz would replace starter Buster Posey behind the plate for the bottom of the 6th inning, given the dubious honor of handling knuckleballer R.A. Dickey. In the top of the 7th, ‘Chooch’ flew out to left against Oakland A’s reliever Ryan Cook in what would be the lone all-star at-bat of his career.
Hamels tossed a perfect 7th inning in that 2012 game. Papelbon retired Orioles catcher Matt Wieters, the only batter he faced, on a fly ball to left field to end an 8-0 National League victory at Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City.
The Phillies had a pair of NL All-Stars in the 2013 MLB All-Star Game at Citi Field. One was outfielder Domonic Brown, who had gotten red hot for the only stretch of his big-league career, lasting about seven weeks, to earn the nod. The other was Lee, who was greeted, uh, lustily by the New York fans at Citi Field and who responded, uh, stoically.
Brown entered as a replacement in left field for Carlos Gonzalez in the top of the 6th inning and then struck out against Toronto lefty reliever Brett Cecil. Lee pitched the top of the 5th, surrendering a leadoff double to Adam Jones followed by a single by Joe Mauer. After Jones scored on a ground out, Lee got out of the inning by getting 21-year-old Mike Trout to ground into a double play.
Target Field in Minnesota was the site of the 2014 MLB All-Star Game, and the Phillies returned to placing a starter when Chase Utley was voted as the second baseman for the sixth time in his career. He was also the only Phillies all-star that year, the first time since Randy Wolf represented the club back in 2003 that the club had just one player named to the NL squad.
Batting 7th in the lineup, Utley ripped a one-out RBI double off Jon Lester in the top of the 2nd to get the NL on the scoreboard. With two out in the top of the 5th, Utley was hit by a pitch from Chicago White Sox lefty Chris Sale and was lifted for pinch-runner Dee Gordon.
In the 2015 MLB All-Star Game at Great American Ball Park in Cincinnati, Papelbon was the lone Phillies rep. He did not pitch in the game, and would appear in just five more games for the club before being traded to Washington exactly two weeks to the day after the game.
Petco Park in San Diego hosted the 2016 MLB All-Star Game and outfielder Odubel Herrerawas the lone Phillies representative. He took over in center field in the bottom of the 5th inning, then flew out against Kansas City pitcher Kelvin Herrera in the top of the 6th inning. He was pinch-hit for by Starling Marte in the top of the 8th inning.
The National League hosted for a third straight year when the 2017 MLB All-Star Game was played at Marlins Park in Miami. Reliever Pat Neshek represented the Phillies, then much as Papelbon two years earlier, pitched in five more games for the club before getting traded just over two weeks later.
Which brings us to last year. At Nationals Park, Harper got the start in center field in front of his former home fans after putting on a major show the previous day to win the Home Run Derby. One of the backup catchers was J.T. Realmuto, then with Miami and serving as that lone Phillies rep in tonight’s game.
The lone Phillies player selected for last year’s 2018 MLB All-Star Game was pitcher Aaron Nola. The righty came in for the 5th inning and struck out the first two AL batters that he faced in Salvador Perez and Mookie Betts. After giving up a single to Jose Altuve, Nola got Trout to pop out to first base foul territory to complete a shutout frame.
Howard, Utley, Halladay, Lee, Hamels, Polanco, Victorino, Ruiz, Papelbon, Brown, Herrera, Neshek, Nola. Those 13 players all appeared in the MLB All-Star Game during the decade of the 2010’s for the National League squad as a representative of the Philadelphia Phillies. Realmuto joins the list tonight in Cleveland.

Phillies hope to treat fans to a win before treating them to a free concert

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Country star Brad Eldredge performs a post-game concert on Saturday

The Philadelphia Phillies (39-36) and Miami Marlins (28-46) will meet on Saturday afternoon in the second game of their weekend series at Citizens Bank Park.

For the Phillies, it will be another chance to put an end to a losing streak that has now reached five games. The club has also dropped seven of eight, and nine of their last 11 games.
This losing period has dropped the Phillies to 4.5 games behind the Atlanta Braves in the National League East Division standings. The team is also now tied with the Saint Louis Cardinals, a half-game out of the NL Wildcard race.
The Marlins have now won three of their last four games. Their pitching staff has surrendered just 22 runs over the last seven (3.14 per game) and is now fourth in the National League in batting average against.
The Marlins pitching strength is certainly not good news for a struggling Phillies offensive attack. No matter how inept the Marlins own lineup is at scoring runs, the Phillies can’t win without scoring some themselves. This was perfectly demonstrated in last night’s 2-1 victory for the visitors.
No matter how the game plays out, fans will be treated to a post-game concert by country music star Brett Eldredge. The concert will begin as soon as possible after the conclusion of the game, and your game ticket is also your concert ticket.


SATURDAY STARTING LINEUPS

PHILLIES

  1. Bryce Harper RF
  2. Rhys Hoskins 1B
  3. Jay Bruce LF
  4. J.T. Realmuto C
  5. Jean Segura SS
  6. Scott Kingery CF
  7. Brad Miller 3B
  8. Vince Velasquez P
  9. Cesar Hernandez 2B
Kingery continues to get bounced between third base and center field, neither of which is his natural position, and neither of which he is anything more than passable, in Kapler’s lineup. Meanwhile, Franco is once again plopped on the bench. Miller becomes the fifth player to man the hot corner this season. Franco has the best fielding percentage (.986; two errors in 144 total chances) among all qualifying 3rd basemen in the big-leagues. The manager also is once again trying the old pitcher-hitting-eighth strategy, and is batting his 3-4 guys at leadoff and in the two-hole. None of this has worked to this point. But hey, let’s keep it going. The Analytics Department says it’s our best option. Or something.

MARLINS

  1. Miguel Rojas SS
  2. Curtis Granderson LF
  3. Garrett Cooper 1B
  4. Brian Anderson 3B
  5. Starlin Castro 2B
  6. Cesar Puello RF
  7. JT Riddle CF
  8. Wilkin Castillo C
  9. Elieser Hernandez P
Manager Don Mattingly has to cringe inside when he makes out this lineup card.

SHIBE VINTAGE SPORTS STARTING PITCHING MATCHUP

PHILLIES – Vince Velasquez: 2-4, 4.71 ERA, 1.524 WHIP, 43 hits over 42 IP across 17 games (7 starts) with a 49/21 K:BB ratio. Velasquez is expected to be used as an actual starting pitcher today, not as simply an “opener”, which was the case in his last outing six days ago. His last true starting effort came all the way back on May 6. Velasquez posted a 2.08 ERA (5 ER, 21.2 IP) over his first four starts of the season, but has since posted a 10.80 ERA over his last three, lasting four innings or fewer in all of them. During his seven starts, Velasquez has received only seven runs of support while he was in the game (1.99 run support average), and never more than two runs. No starter in baseball with more than five starts has received as few runs in support this season.
This can be considered an audition for the right-hander, who had a 4.82 ERA and .342 batting average against over nine games coming out of the bullpen.
MARLINS – Elieser Hernandez: 0-2, 3.95 ERA, 1.171 WHIP, 14 hits allowed over 13.2 IP over 3 games (2 starts) with a 13/2 K:BB ratio. Hernandez is a 24-year-old right-hander from Venezuela. He debuted in 2018 with 32 appearances, including a half-dozen starts. He began this season at Triple-A, and entered the Marlins rotation on June 11. This will be his third start since that time.

PHILLIES NUGGETS PREGAME NOTES

  • Catching today for the Marlins is the 35-year-old Castillo, who was last in the big leagues during the last season in which the Phillies won the National League pennant. He appeared in 22 games combined with the Cincinnati Reds over 2008-09. After that, Castillo bounced through five organizations over the last decade. He is finally emerging here out of the Miami minors system only because of an injury to Jorge Alfaro.
  • Realmuto threw out his 19th runner attempting to steal last night, and is credited with 23 total caught stealings on the season (he is co-credited for 4 instances when a pitcher caught a runner stealing). He is also the first Phillies catcher with 23 caught stealings before July since Carlos Ruiz back in 2012, and the first in MLB since 2016. Per Statcast, Realmuto’s pop time is 1.88 seconds, which is the quickest in baseball and would be the quickest ever since Statcast began measuring in 2015.
  • Kingery’s .650 slugging percentage ranks sixth among all major league players with at least 140 plate appearances this season. Over his last 10 games, Kingery is hitting .405 with 10 of his 15 hits going for extra bases. Among all major league players, his 14 extra-base hits in June are tied for third-most.
  • As part of last night’s sellout crowd, the Phillies have announced that Brian Morris became the 150 millionth fan ever to attend a Phillies game. Morris was presented with an autographed Phillies jersey with the number “150” on it by Charlie Manuel. He will also receive two 2020 partial season tickets, limited edition Chase Utley memorabilia, an autographed Rhys Hoskins ball and more. The Phillies reached their one-millionth fan in 1889, 50 million in 1977, and 100 million in 2000.
  • The Marlins got on the scoreboard first on Friday night. The Phillies are now just 14-28 when the opposition scores first. They are 25-8 when putting a run on the board first themselves.
  • Think the bullpen is glad to have southpaw Adam Morgan back in the mix? He has not allowed a home run to the last 118 lefty hitters faced dating back to last June, and only one homer to the last 193 lefty bats faced since August 2017.

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Chase Utley retires as a Phillies player prior to Friday night series opener

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Chase Utley retires as a Phillie prior to Friday night’s game

For the Philadelphia Phillies (39-35) the hope has to be that a return to home cooking, sleeping in their own beds, the comforting presence of their families, and the home crowd cheering them on at Citizens Bank Park will help turn their season back around.

The club left South Philly just over a week ago after being shutout by the Arizona Diamondbacks, losing a series for the first time to a team not named the Los Angeles Dodgers in more than a month.
Heading out on the road for seven games against their two most talented division rivals, the Atlanta Braves and Washington Nationals, the Phillies floundered. They dropped six of the seven games, with one getting postponed by rain.
Over the last three weeks the Phillies have gone into a stunning free-fall, dropping out of the NL East Division lead. The club has lost four in a row, six of seven, and eight of their last 10 games. They are now also on the outside looking in where the National League Wildcard standings are concerned.
A month-long stretch against only NL East opponents continues this weekend. But instead of the top divisional opposition it will be the last-place Miami Marlins (27-46) paying a visit. The Fish have dropped 10 of their last 14, and only two teams in all of Major League Baseball have a worse record.
The two teams have met seven times already this season, with the Phillies capturing five of those games. In each of those two April series, a four-game set at Marlins Park and a three-gamer at Citizens Bank Park, the Marlins managed to win one game. The Phillies have outscored Miami 37-25 so far, and it’s only that close because of a big 10-3 win by the Marlins on April 13.
Right now, the Phillies cannot afford to take any opponent for granted after being outscored 46-21 over the last week in their games against Atlanta and Washington. While this is a less talented opponent, the fact is that the Phillies aren’t pitching or hitting well enough to intimidate anyone lately.
Injuries certainly have played a role in the Phillies downfall. They have lost left fielder and leadoff hitter Andrew McCutchen for the season. Their bullpen has largely been in shambles, with seven relievers on the Injured List at one point. But every team suffers injuries.
Manager Gabe Kapler and his coaching staff need to find some answers quickly, because the fan base is getting increasingly restless. If the fortunes of this team, one those fans had begun taking for granted as an exciting contender this season, do not turn around fast, those fans are going to become downright mutinous and ugly.
On a positive note, the Phillies will celebrate the career of franchise icon Chase Utley prior to and during the game on Friday night. Utley, who spent 13 seasons as the Phillies second baseman and was a hero of the 2008 World Series champions, is officially retiring as a member of the Phillies organization. Perhaps his presence and the atmosphere it inspires will contribute to a positive change in the atmosphere surrounding the current ball club.

FRIDAY STARTING LINEUPS

PHILLIES

  1. Bryce Harper RF
  2. Rhys Hoskins 1B
  3. Jay Bruce LF
  4. J.T. Realmuto C
  5. Jean Segura SS
  6. Scott Kingery 3B
  7. Cesar Hernandez 2B
  8. Aaron Nola P
  9. Roman Quinn CF
Gabe Kapler pulling the old pitcher-batting-eighth routine, and this may be the perfect situation with a hitter such as Quinn.

MARLINS

  1. Miguel Rojas SS
  2. Harold Ramirez LF
  3. Brian Anderson 3B
  4. Starlin Castro 2B
  5. Cesar Puello RF
  6. JT Riddle CF
  7. Bryan Holaday C
  8. Yadiel Rivera 1B
  9. Sandy Alcantara P

SHIBE VINTAGE SPORTS STARTING PITCHING MATCHUP

PHILLIES – Aaron Nola: 6-1, 4.89 ERA, 1.506 WHIP, 86 hits allowed over 81 IP across 15 starts with a 90/36 K:BB
MARLINS – Sandy Alcantara: 3-6, 3.73 ERA, 76 hits allowed over 82 IP across 14 starts with a 58/38 K:BB

PHILLIES NUGGETS PREGAME NOTES

  • It’s been a split-decision for Alcantara in his only two previous starts against the Phillies. On September 5 of last season in just his second-ever big-league start he shut them down on three hits over seven innings at Marlins Park. But then on April 12 of this year, the Phillies pounded him for 11 hits and six earned runs over five innings at Citizens Bank Park.
  • Nola has made 11 career starts against Miami over which he has a 3-4 record with a 3.48 ERA and 1.129 WHIP. The Phillies lost his only start this year against the Marlins, dropping a 3-1 decision that was in no way his fault. Nola allowed just one earned on seven hits over 6.2 innings, but Marlins starter Caleb Smith matched him and the Fish won in 10 innings.
  • The Phillies have not lost a season series to the Marlins since the eventual 2008 world champions dropped 10 of 18 to them. In fact, the 2009 NL champions split with the Marlins 9-9. The Phillies have won the season series now for nine straight seasons and have won five of the first seven meetings so far this year.
  • As much as the Phillies offense has struggled to score, with their 352 runs ranking just 9th in the National League, the Marlins have scored nearly 100 fewer runs. They rank at the bottom of the NL with 254 runs scored. The Marlins hitters are also collectively last in home runs and OPS. Their 23 stolen bases is tied with the Phillies and San Francisco Giants for next-to-last in the league.
  • This could be a low-scoring series, because a struggling Phillies offense will be up against the strength of the Marlins team, their pitching staff. Miami pitchers have produced the fourth-best batting average against mark in the NL, and are tied for seventh in ERA and OPS while allowing the third-fewest home runs.
  • Adam Morgan has returned, giving the Phillies a valuable lefty bullpen arm. Cole Irvin was sent to Triple-A.
  • Utley has been making the rounds in the area while back east for tonight’s big ceremony. He helped dedicate a refurbished field for RBI, middle school, and high school games in Allentown, PA. Utley was part of the committee working with MLB to select fields around the country for refurbishment, and held a clinic at the site.

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The two greatest defensive plays in Phillies franchise history

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Carlos Ruiz tags out Jason Bartlett in 2008 World Series

For my money it has always been one of the two greatest defensive plays in Philadelphia Phillies history, both of which were made during situations in which the fielders were facing tremendous pressure.

It came during Game 5 of the 2008 World Series between the Phillies and visiting Tampa Bay Rays at Citizens Bank Park, and was started by Phillies second baseman Chase Utley, who will be feted on Friday night when he officially retires with the organization.
You may be able to look back over the history of this now 137-year-old ball club and find more spectacular or technically difficult plays. But it would be hard to find two that combine those aspects of difficulty and spectacle with sheer importance in a championship-level setting.
The players at the center of these two phenomenal defensive moments also just happen to be arguably the most popular players among the fan base in the entire history of the Philadelphia Phillies organization.

WHITEY’S STRIKE

The first of those two greatest defensive plays came all the way back in the final game of the 1950 regular season, and was pulled off by Baseball Hall of Famer and Phillies Wall of Famer Richie Ashburn. There were no playoffs in those days. If you finished in first place, you won the pennant and advanced to the World Series.
On that Sunday, October 1 afternoon at Ebbets Field in Brooklyn, the Phillies were battling the host Dodgers. The two teams were tied at 1-1 into the bottom of the 9th inning. A victory by the home side would mean they would tie for first place, forcing a playoff for the National League pennant.
The first two batters, Cal Abrams and Pee Wee Reese, reached base against Phillies right-hander Robin Roberts. The future Phillies Wall of Famer and Baseball Hall of Famer had turned just 24-years-old the previous day, but was already the ace of the staff. But now he was in trouble, and the pennant was in jeopardy.
Next up for the Dodgers was their own 24-year-old future Hall of Famer, Duke Snider. On the first pitch, Snider sent a clean base hit into center field, where the 23-year-old Ashburn fielded the ball and came up firing.
Abrams never hesitated, rounding third and heading for home as the potential game-tying run. Ashburn’s throw to catcher Stan Lopata was true, and Abrams was out as he slid for the plate. For its importance at that moment, and for what happened next, Ashburn’s strike to the plate may still be the greatest defensive play in Phillies franchise history.
Roberts would intentionally walk the next batter, Jackie Robinson, to load the bases. With the pennant-winning run now in scoring position, Roberts proceeded to get Carl Furillo on a pop fly to first baseman Eddie Waitkus, then retired Gil Hodges on a fly ball to right fielder Del Ennis to wriggle his way out of the jam.
The game moved into the top of the 10th inning, where Dick Sisler would drill a one-out, three-run homer off Don Newcombe to put the Phillies up 4-1. Roberts set the Dodgers down in order in the bottom of the frame, and he was then mobbed at the mound by his ‘Whiz Kids’ teammates in celebration of just the second NL pennant in franchise history.
UTLEY’S DEKE
As stated earlier, this play by Utley took place in Game 5 of the 2008 World Series. The only reason that I rate it equivalent to the Ashburn play is that it actually took place in the Fall Classic, where plays such as this make the difference between winning and losing an actual championship.
The Phillies led the Tampa Bay Rays by three games to one, and were just a win away from only the second world championship in franchise history. This fifth game between the two teams had been suspended by torrential rains that spilled through the Philadelphia area for the last two days.
The visiting Rays were desperate for a win at Citizens Bank Park. It would give them life, sending them back home to Tampa trailing 3-2 in the series, but with the final two games in front of their home fans.

Jason Bartlett was a heads-up shortstop with the 2008 Tampa Bay Rays. His daring spring home in the decisive game of the World Series was overcome by Utley’s Deke. (imagesbyferg on Flickr)
In the top of the 7th inning, Tampa Bay right fielder Rocco Baldelli blasted a one-out solo home run off Ryan Madson to tie the game at 3-3. The following batter, shortstop Jason Bartlett, grounded a single to left off Madson. Bartlett was then moved up to second base on a sacrifice bunt, and he stood there as the go-ahead run with two outs.
Up to the plate stepped Rays’ leadoff man Akinori Iwamura. The 28-year-old second baseman had signed with Tampa Bay a year earlier after nine years playing professionally in his native Japan, and was a dangerous contact hitter. Phillies skipper Charlie Manuel countered by bringing in southpaw reliever J.C. Romero to face the left-handed hitting Iwamura.
Romero got in front with a strike. But on the second pitch, Iwamura connected with a breaking ball and grounded it back through the middle. Bartlett had a good lead and took off running. Off the bat, and even as it rushed towards center field, the ball looked like it was a base hit.
Utley was playing Iwamura in the hole, shaded towards first base, and was roughly twenty feet from the ball as it rolled through the infield. But the Phillies then 29-year-old, six-year veteran second baseman bolted smoothly and confidently to his right. He backhanded the ball, and in one motion made a jump-throw in an attempt to get the speedy Iwamura at first.
And then he didn’t. In a play that epitomized Utley’s uncommon baseball instincts, the Phillies second baseman never threw the ball to first. As he cross behind shortstop Jimmy Rollins and the second base bag towards the left field side of the diamond, Utley realized he had no play on Iwamura.
But then he spotted Bartlett breaking for home. In one motion, Utley deked a throw to first, turned on a hop, and fired a one-hopper that was a bit up and behind the third base line to catcher Carlos Ruiz.
The Phillies catcher fielded the ball and dove for Bartlett, who had taken off in a head-first slide attempt to the front of the plate. “Chooch” applied the diving tag to Bartlett’s outstretched shoulder, and umpire Jeff Kellogg stutter-stepped around the pair to pump his fist in the “out” call as the home fans at Citizens Bank Park exploded.
The play has become known by various names to Phillies fans over the years, most frequently as “Utley’s Deke”, even though it has to be pointed out that the fantastic play by Ruiz on the back end is often over-looked.
In the bottom of the inning, Pat Burrell would lead off with a booming double high off the center field wall in what would be his final plate appearance in a Phillies uniform. Two batters later, Pedro Feliz singled home pinch-runner Eric Bruntlett to put the Phillies in front by 4-3. In the 9th, closer Brad Lidge would strikeout Eric Hinske to end it, sinking to his knees where Ruiz, Utley, and their teammates would pile up as World Series champions.
As the Phillies remember and celebrate the many great moments of the brilliant 13 seasons spent by Chase Utley in a Phillies uniform, “Utley’s Deke” is sure to be front-and-center. It is my personal favorite play by “The Man”, and remains one of the two greatest defensive plays in the history of the Philadelphia Phillies franchise.

Nationals look to deliver a knockout blow to staggering Phillies in series finale

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Nationals fans have welcomed Bryce Harper back with open arms

The Philadelphia Phillies (39-34) are looking a bit like a boxer who has built a nice lead on the judge’s scorecards, winning the first handful of rounds, only to get nailed with a haymaker by the opposition and suddenly find themselves reeling, clinging to the ropes, hoping the knockout blow doesn’t come before they can somehow regain their composure, get back to their corner, and formulate some kind of plan to rally.

The Washington Nationals (35-38) on the other hand look like that opposition fighter. Was getting knocked around in the early rounds, looked entirely lost. But then, suddenly, that fighter lands a big shot, sees the stunned look in the former leader’s eyes, and goes in for the kill with renewed energy.
It will be the host Nationals going for the series sweep on Thursday evening when the two sides meet once again at Nationals Park. They swept the Phillies in a day-night doubleheader on Wednesday, pulling the Nats within four games of the Phils and Colorado Rockies in the race for the final NL Wildcard slot.
Since falling to a season-worst 19-31 on May 23, the Nationals have gone 16-7 to get back into the race. Meanwhile, the Phillies were sitting at a season-best 33-22 on May 29, but have gone just 6-12 since that point. They have not only fallen out of first place in the NL East, trailing the Atlanta Braves by four games, but have also lost sole possession of a Wildcard playoff berth.
In the midst of a month-long stretch of games against only National League East Division games, the Phillies are 1-4 thus far. There are 20 of those division rivalry games remaining in this stretch of the season.
Weather has been a major factor in this series. Persistent thunderstorms and showers caused the postponement of games on both Monday and Tuesday night, resulting in yesterday’s split twin-bill and a game rescheduled for late September. Tonight looks okay. While there is a 45% chance of scattered t-storms at the 7:05 pm first pitch, that drops to just 20-25% for the rest of the game.
Following the game tonight, the club will return home to Citizens Bank Park. Tomorrow night they fete former hero Chase Utley as ‘The Man’ officially retires as a member of the Phillies prior to a weekend series opener with the last-place Miami Marlins. Going home with a win tonight could make for much improved feelings when the fans pack the ball park to honor their former hero.

THURSDAY STARTING LINEUPS

PHILLIES

  1. Bryce Harper RF
  2. Rhys Hoskins 1B
  3. Jay Bruce LF
  4. J.T. Realmuto C
  5. Jean Segura SS
  6. Scott Kingery CF
  7. Cesar Hernandez 2B
  8. Maikel Franco 3B
  9. Nick Pivetta P

NATIONALS

  1. Trea Turner SS
  2. Adam Eaton RF
  3. Anthony Rendon 3B
  4. Juan Soto LF
  5. Howie Kendrick 2B
  6. Matt Adams 1B
  7. Kurt Suzuki C
  8. Victor Robles CF
  9. Erick Fedde P
Nats skipper Dave Martinez finally giving Kendrick a shot. The 35-year-old 14-year veteran who played with the Phillies for 39 games during the 2016 season has enjoyed a tremendous first-half, filling in at three different positions.

SHIBE VINTAGE SPORTS STARTING PITCHING MATCHUP

PHILLIES – Nick Pivetta: 4-1, 5.00 ERA, 1.400 WHIP, 51 hits over 45 IP across eight starts with a 43/12 K:BB. The 26-year-old righty has been the Phillies best starting pitcher since returning to the club from a stint in the minor leagues on May 28. However, he was knocked around a bit in his last outing last Friday night in Atlanta by the hot Braves lineup. He surrendered three home runs among eight hits allowed over 6.2 innings.
NATIONALS – Erick Fedde: 6-5, 3.75 ERA, 1.063 WHIP, 78 hits over 96 IP across 16 starts with a 115/24 K:BB. Fedde is a 26-year-old right-hander who was the Nationals first round pick at 18th overall in the 2014 MLB Draft. This will be his fourth career start against the Phillies, his most of any opponent. In 2018, he went 2-1 with a 4.32 ERA in three starts and struck out a career-high nine batters in 5.2 innings of two-hit shutout ball on Sept. 11, 2018 at Citizens Bank Park.

PHILLIES NUGGETS PREGAME NOTES

  • Washington enters tonight’s game having won three straight, four of its last five, and 16 of 23 games dating to May 24. Their 16-7 record since May 24 ranks second in Major League Baseball over this stretch behind only the Los Angeles Dodgers.
  • Nationals third baseman Anthony Rendon ranks third in the National League in OPS (1.038), fifth in on-base percentage (.402) and slugging percentage (.636) and ninth in batting average (.309), and leads all NL third basemen in nearly every offensive category.
  • The retirement of 2008 World Series champion Chase Utley kicks off a weekend of fan events surrounding the Phillies-Marlins series. Fans are encouraged to be in their seats by 6:40 pm at the latest on Friday night for the ceremony. They will also receive a special bobblehead commemorating the unforgettable World Series parade speech by ‘The Man’. There will also be limited edition Utley merchandise available at various stadium shops and vendors on Friday night.
  • Following Saturday night’s game, country music star Brad Eldredge will perform a live concert on the field. Your game ticket is also your concert ticket, so just stick around following the final pitch.
  • On Sunday, kids 14-and-under receive a Rhys Hoskins wiffle ball and bat set.

TICKET IQ PROGRAMMING INFORMATION