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The story of the 2019 Phillies to date is one of blown opportunities

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So, you are a Phillies fan, and you are exhausted after Friday night’s 15-inning, 4-3 loss to one of the worst teams in Major League Baseball, the Chicago White Sox.

One strike away from victory, the Phillies blew it. The offense left 15 runners on base and went just 2-13 with runners in scoring position. The bullpen coughed up the late lead in the 9th inning. Manager Gabe Kapler‘s decisions resulted in outfielder Roman Quinn having to pitch two innings, ultimately getting hung with the loss.
If you are anything like me, you are completely exasperated with the way this team has lost many games this season. It feels as if there have been a dozen games or more in which the Phillies should have won, but somehow snatched defeat from the jaws of victory.
Well, I decided to actually go through the grueling ordeal of researching it. And looking back over the 2019 results shows that we are correct in our feelings. It’s not just that the Phillies have blown games that they should have won, they have also won a ton of tight games. The club has been involved in more than their share of close contests this season.
The Phillies have suffered 18 losses by two runs or fewer, and have been walked-off five times. On the flip side, they have 25 wins by two runs or less, with four walk-off victories. That makes 43 of the Phillies 109 games, nearly 40%, as having been extremely tight affairs.
In many of those losses, the Phillies had a late lead. In each of the following 17 games, fans would not need to apologize if they felt that the club missed a golden opportunity at a victory. These are the 17 games, 11 of them coming at home at Citizens Bank Park, that have caused the collective blood pressure to rise.
In the vast majority of these cases, the bullpen blew a late lead or failed in a tie game. However, in a few of them, greater success by the offense earlier in the game would have kept the pen out of the equation.
Nailing down the win in just under half of these games, simply going 8-9 rather than losing them all, would have the Phillies sitting at 65-44, a game up on Atlanta in the division and seven games clear of the NL Wildcard pack. If you have the stomach for it, let’s relive the excruciating details together.

HALF-DOZEN APRIL CRUSHERS

Wednesday, April 3 at Washington: This was the first loss of the season. The Phillies were 4-0, having swept the Braves and taken out the Nats by 8-2 in a series opener. They had outscored those two teams by a 31-13 margin. In this one at Nationals Park, the Phillies rallied to score four runs in the top of the 8th inning to take an 8-6 lead. But then Seranthony Dominguez surrendered a pair in the bottom of the 8th to tie it up. In the bottom of the 9th, David Robertson surrendered a leadoff base hit, then walked three straight batters to walk in the winning run.
Saturday, April 6 vs Twins at CBP: This was the club’s second loss of the season, just three days after the Nats debacle. The Phillies trailed in this one by 3-2 after the offense had left runners on base a couple of times. They would have one more shot in the bottom of the 9th inning. But before it ever got there, Dominguez surrendered a back-breaking three-run homer to Eddie Rosario in the top of the final frame, giving the Twins a 6-3 victory.
Tuesday, April 9 vs the Nationals at CBP: The third loss of the young season was yet another heart-breaker. The Phillies led this one 6-1 after five innings at home with Aaron Nola on the mound. But their ace would struggle in the early going this season, and this was one of those times. After he had allowed just two runs and five hits through six innings, the Nats got to Nola for a pair of 7th inning homers to cut their deficit to 6-5. Then with two outs and two strikes in the top of the 9th, Juan Soto homered off Edubray Ramos to tie it up. It would not be the last time that the Phillies bullpen would blow a game just one strike away from victory. Washington would whack Jose Alvarez around, scoring four times in the top of the 10th to win 10-6. The Phillies offense failed to score over the final six frames after building that early 6-1 lead.
Monday, April 15 vs Mets at CBP: Every time the visiting Mets scored, the Phillies had an answer. The Phils tied it when Mets pitching walked four batters, including walking in the tying run in the bottom of the 8th with two outs. Bryce Harper then stepped to the plate, but popped up, missing a chance to push the lead runs across. In the bottom of the 10th, Jean Segura struck out with the winning run at second and two outs. The rivals went to the 11th inning still tied at 6-6. The Mets put two men on with two outs and Pat Neshek on the mound. Then, an error by Rhys Hoskins on a grounder allowed what would prove to be the winning run to score. Harper, Hoskins and J.T. Realmuto each struck out swinging in the bottom of the inning to end it.
Friday April 19 at Colorado: Vince Velasquez was shutting out the host Rockies at Coors Field into the 6th with the Phillies leading 2-0. But he gave up a one-out homer and a pair of two-out doubles, and the game was tied at 2-2. The Phillies offense failed to score after the 5th, and the teams moved into the 12th still tied at 2-2. In the top of the 12th, Harper’s clutch two-out RBI double put the Phils on top 3-2. But in the bottom of the 12th, Juan Nicasio surrendered a two-out, two-strike, walkoff home run to Charlie Blackmon to blow it.
Thursday April 25 vs Miami at CBP: The Phillies took an early 1-0 lead on a solo homer from Sean Rodriguez in the bottom of the 2nd inning. It was the only run they would score. The Marlins tied it in the top of the 3rd off Nola, and the game remained 1-1 into the 10th inning. Hector Neris retired the first two Miami batters. But then he allowed a two-out, two-strike double to Neil Walker followed by a two-strike, two-run homer to Starlin Castro to give Miami a 3-1 lead. The Phillies went out 1-2-3 in their half and suffered yet another home heartbreaker.

PAIR OF MAYDAY CALLS

Saturday, May 4 vs Washington at CBP: With the game tied at 3-3 into the 7th, the Nats scored twice to take the lead. But the Phillies offense responded immediately on this night, scoring five times in the bottom to take an 8-5 lead. In the top of the 8th, Neshek put two runners on base, and with two outs he was lifted for Adam Morgan. The lefty promptly surrendered a game-tying home run to Kurt Suzuki, and then a go-ahead homer to the very next batter, Victor Robles. The Nats tacked on one more in the 9th off Ramos, and escaped with a 10-8 win in South Philly.
Tuesday, May 21 at Wrigley Field vs the Cubs: After blowing that game against Washington, the Phillies recovered to begin one of their best runs of the season, winning 10 of 15 to move out to a 2.5 game division lead. In the second game of their series at Wrigley Field, the Phils suffered what would be just their second truly blown opportunity of the month of May. Leading 2-1 into the bottom of the 9th inning, Nicasio loaded the bases with one out. The Cubs then tied it on a fielder’s choice in which Kris Bryant was nearly thrown out at the plate. The Cubs then did the ending, when Javier Baez drilled a first-pitch walkoff single.

HALF-DOZEN MORE DURING JUNE SWOON

Saturday, June 1 at Dodger Stadium: Still in first place themselves, the Phillies had a chance to dump the best team in baseball on the road. Harper’s two-run home run in the top of the 8th inning tied the game at 3-3. But with one out in the bottom of the 9th and the count full, Neris gave up a walkoff home run to rookie Dodgers catcher Will Smith for a 4-3 defeat.
Sunday, June 9 vs Reds at CBP: After a tough road trip, the Phillies had won four straight to move 10 games over the .500 mark and two games up in the NL East race. Nola took a 3-1 lead into the top of the 7th inning at home, then again ran out of gas after retiring the first two batters. After he surrendered a two-out single and walk, manager Gabe Kapler brought in Alvarez. The lefty reliever promptly yielded a two-run single to tie it up, and then an RBI single to the very next batter to give Cincy a 4-3 lead. The Reds bullpen then retired nine of the final 10 Phillies batters.
Friday, June 14 at Atlanta: A truly back-breaking defeat. The Braves had slipped past the Phillies in the NL East standings by 1.5 games as the two division rivals opened a big weekend series in Atlanta. The Phils bolted out to a 5-1 lead behind Nick Pivetta, who then took a 7-2 lead into the bottom of the 7th inning. Brian McCann reached him for a leadoff home run. Then with two outs, Pivetta allowed a double and a walk. Kapler went to Vince Velasquez out of the bullpen, and the former starter immediately allowed an RBI single to Freddie Freeman to cut the Phils lead down to 7-4. The Phillies pushed their lead out to 8-4 in the top of the 8th, but then Alvarez allowed a two-out, two-strike RBI single. Ramos came on and yielded a two-strike RBI triple to the next batter to make it an 8-6 ball game. In the bottom of the 9th, Neris put two on but also got two outs. Then he gave up a two-strike RBI double to Austin Riley to make it 8-7, followed by a two-strike, two-run walkoff double to McCann to blow it.
Friday, June 21 vs Miami at CBP: The Phillies were in the midst of their worst stretch of the season, having lost four straight and six of seven. When the last-place Marlins came to town, it was a chance for the Phillies to get things re-stabilized. It was not to be, as the Fish would win all three games of the weekend set by two runs or fewer. In this Friday series opener, the Phillies offense left 11 men on base and went just 2-12 with runners in scoring position. With the game knotted at 1-1 into the 6th, Miami scored an unearned run off Nola to take a 2-1 lead. The Phillies left the tying run at third base in the home 8th, and dropped a lifeless decision.
Saturday, June 22 vs Miami at CBP: The very next night, the Phillies took a 3-1 lead into the top of the 7th against Miami. Morgan came on in relief and allowed the first three men to reach base, giving up a run to make it a 3-2 game. Then with two on and two out, Ramos came on and allowed a two-run double on the first pitch he threw, putting the Marlins up 4-3. They pushed another across on J.D. Hammer in the top of the 8th, and beat the Phillies by 5-3.
Saturday, June 29 at Miami: A week after that second-straight disheartening defeat at home to the Fish, the Phillies suffered one at Marlins Park. After building a 6-1 lead behind Zach Eflin, Miami got a two-run homer from Walker to make it a 6-3 game in the bottom of the 6th inning. In the next inning, Nicasio allowed a run and gave way to Morgan with one out and runners at first and third. Morgan then got ripped by the Marlins, allowing two singles around a pair of doubles over the next four batters. The result was five more runs for the hosts, who took a 9-6 lead. The Phillies bats went silent over the final four frames, and it was another loss to the last place team in the division.

TRIO OF SECOND HALF COLLAPSES (SO FAR)

Saturday, July 13 vs Washington at CBP: Their awful 10-17 stretch had dropped the Phillies into third place, 8.5 behind Atlanta and now 1.5 back of the Nationals. With a chance to gain ground head-to-head, Nola had the Phillies on top with a shutout, leading 3-0 into the top of the 6th inning. But then he walked two and allowed a two-out RBI single to Robles to make it a 3-1 game. In the top of the 8th, Morgan would blow it again, though his defense also let him down. He walked two and retired two batters. With two outs, an error by Maikel Franco at third base allowed a run to score, cutting the Phillies lead down to 3-2. Then it was Neris’ turn in the top of the 9th inning. The closer retired the first two batters, but then allowed a base hit to Anthony Rendon. That was followed by a game-turning, first-pitch, two-run homer off the bat of Soto that put the Nationals up 4-3. The Phillies got Roman Quinn to second base with two outs in the bottom of the frame, but a series of moves by Kapler had left his best pinch-hit option for Neris as backup catcher Andrew Knapp. The result was as expected, a 4-3 Phillies loss.
Wednesday, July 17 vs the Dodgers at CBP: After winning a spirited walkoff victory the prior night against baseball’s best team, the Phillies and Dodgers were tied at 2-2 into the 7th inning. But Nicasio allowed a two-run homer to David Freese in the top of the 7th, Austin Davis gave up a two-run homer to Justin Turner in the top of the 8th, and the Dodgers coasted home with five runs over the final three innings for a 7-2 victory. The Phillies offense produced just two hits off a half-dozen Dodgers pitchers, who retired nine Phils batters in a row in the late innings as their own hitters opened up the lead.
Friday, August 2 vs the Chisox: Last night. I refuse to relive this 15-inning debacle completely. But the Phillies offense failed to score over the final eight frames, Velasquez was forced to play left field, and Quinn was forced to pitch two innings. If you are that much of a masochist that you need the full details, enjoy my game story at that link.
The Phillies have lost 52 games this season, so their performances in these 17 do not tell the full story. However, they do tell much of the frustrating 2019 story for Phillies fans who feel that they have suffered through far too many late defeats that looked like the could have, usually should have, been put into the win column.
Again, the Phillies did not need to win all of these games. They didn’t even need to win half of them. An 8-9 record in games they definitely could have won with a few timely hits and/or a better effort from the bullpen would have them in first place right now. Somehow, they have to find a way to make this stop over the next eight weeks.

Marlins send Phillies to sixth straight defeat on a hit that was ten years in the making

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Wilkin Castillo waited a decade to deliver the game-winning hit

This is not a recording. The Philadelphia Phillies (39-37) lost (again) on Saturday, this time by a 5-3 score, when their bullpen collapsed (again) to blow a late-innings lead. And this was a second consecutive loss to the Miami Marlins (29-46), the team with by far the worst record in the National League.

It marks a sixth consecutive defeat for the Phillies. Eight out of nine, and 10 of their last 12, have resulted in their finishing on the lower side of the final score. The have won just six times over their last 20 games.
That is more than a losing skid, or a poor stretch of games. For a team that was 11 games over the .500 mark and in first place when it all began to slowly unravel, this is a complete and utter collapse. For fans, it has been excruciating to endure. Nothing changed this afternoon.
So they are 6-14 over the last three weeks. That is a .300 winning percentage. The lowest winning percentage right now by any team in Major League Baseball over this full season is the .286 mark owned by the woeful Baltimore Orioles. But the O’s at least won today, ending their own 10-game losing streak. Maybe the Phillies aren’t the worst team in the game right now, but you would have a hard time convincing the fan base.
There were hopeful signs early on. Vince Velasquez, given a second (third? fourth?) chance to demonstrate that he might be a viable starting pitcher took the ball and ran with it. He allowed just one hit, a third inning solo home run by JT Riddle, over five innings. Velasquez struck out five, walked none, and was in command the entire time, throwing 40 strikes among his 50 pitches.
In the bottom of that 3rd inning, the Phillies offense responded in a manner that fans have been waiting for all season. Bryce Harper and Rhys Hoskins slammed back-to-back home runs for the first time all year to put the Phillies on top 2-1.

Then in the bottom of the 5th inning, the Phillies manufactured another run. Cesar Hernandez grounded a single, moved to second on a wild pitch by Marlins starter Elieser Hernandez, and scored when Harper slashed a base hit to the opposite field, beating the exaggerated shift put on against him by Marlins skipper Don Mattingly.

Phillies manager Gabe Kapler wasn’t around to see that one cross the plate. He was tossed for the first time in his career an inning earlier after a spirited argument with the umpiring crew. He also wasn’t around to watch as his bullpen gave away that 3-1 lead.
The Marlins scored three times in the top of the 7th inning to regain the lead. Adam Morgan, newly activated from a stint on the Injured List, came out rusty. The lefty committed the cardinal baseball sin of walking the leadoff man, Garrett Cooper. Morgan then surrendered consecutive base hits to Brian Anderson and Starlin Castro, the latter hit scoring Cooper and cutting the Phillies lead to 3-2.
The Phillies nearly escaped the inning with the lead intact when Cesar Puello hit into a fielder’s choice. Hoskins fielded his grounder, fired home to J.T. Realmuto, who fired to third baseman Brad Miller, getting Anderson. Morgan then got Riddle to pop out to shortstop for the second out.
With runners at first and second and two outs, bench coach Rob Thomson, subbing for the ejected Kapler, chose to bring in Edubray Ramos to face switch-hitter Wilkin Castillo. The 35-year-old catcher hadn’t appeared in a big-league game since 2009, and was hitless on the day. So Castillo didn’t have a hit in Major League Baseball for a full decade. Now he does.
Castillo wasted no time, ripping a two-run double to right field that scored Castro and Puello, pushing the Fish into the lead at 4-3. In the top of the 8th, the Marlins got an insurance run when Cooper singled off J.D. Hammer to score Curtis Granderson, who had doubled.

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Wilkin Castillo last played a MLB game on June 20th, 2009.

He now has a hit streak that spans 10 years.

242 people are talking about this

For Castillo, the hit was a rush, helping justify his decade-long journey through the minor leagues with six different organizations.
“It was something indescribable,” Castillo said through an interpreter per Paul Casella for MLB.com. “It’s a lot of effort, just playing winter ball in the Dominican League, the Mexican League, the Minor Leagues for 10 years. So just being up here and see things happening, I thank God, and I thank the Marlins for giving me the opportunity to be here at the Major League level.
In the bottom of the 8th, the Phillies got a leadoff single from Hernandez. But then Harper, who was 2-2 with a walk to that point of the game, grounded into a 6-3 double play. The Marlins would take their 5-3 lead into the 9th inning.
The Phillies loaded the bases with two outs in the 9th on a double by Jean Segura, a single by Scott Kingery, and a walk to pinch-hitter Roman Quinn. That brought Hernandez to the plate again, this time with a chance to really become a hero. Instead, he popped weakly to second and the losing streak was extended.
The Marlins will go for the sweep on Sunday afternoon at Citizens Bank Park. The Phillies will try to end this losing streak. It will end at some point. Yet even when it does, it will serve to prove nothing. This team needs a run in the other direction, an extended winning stretch where the offense is clicking, or their season is going to completely disintegrate before our eyes.

Right now, the Phillies look like the worst team in Major League Baseball. Certainly in the National League. If they aren’t, if this is just a losing skid or a “phase”, then it’s well past time to prove it. You can only talk about your alleged talent for so long before having to back up that talk by actually winning ball games. Even one game.

Phillies go for rivalry series win on Father’s Day at SunTrust Park

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Phillies try to win series on Father’s Day at SunTrust Park

The Philadelphia Phillies (39-31) and Atlanta Braves (41-30) have taken turns breaking the hearts of each other’s fans over each of the last two nights.

The Braves rallied with three runs in the bottom of the 9th inning for a 9-8 walkoff victory in the Friday night series opener. Last night, the Phillies scored twice in the 9th for a comeback 5-4 win.
All of that drama leaves the two teams right where they began when this key mid-June series began. The Braves lead the Phillies by 1.5 game in the National League East Division standings, but by just one game in the loss column.
With another win in Sunday’s finale, the Phillies can pull off a series victory, something that seemed improbably just about 37 hours ago after Friday night’s demoralizing defeat.
After this, the Phillies come back up north to take on the division-rival Washington Nationals in a four-game set at Nationals Park beginning on Monday evening. That idea of facing division rivals is one that Phillies fans should get used to, as it will only be NL East opposition for the next month.

SUNDAY STARTING LINEUPS

PHILLIES

  1. Jean Segura SS
  2. Bryce Harper RF
  3. Scott Kingery CF
  4. Rhys Hoskins 1B
  5. Cesar Hernandez 2B
  6. Nick Williams LF
  7. Maikel Franco 3B
  8. Andrew Knapp C
  9. Vince Velasquez P

BRAVES

  1. Ronald Acuna Jr.CF
  2. Dansby Swanson SS
  3. Freddie Freeman 1B
  4. Josh Donaldson 3B
  5. Nick Markakis RF
  6. Austin Riley LF
  7. Ozzie Albies 2B
  8. Tyler Flowers C
  9. Mike Foltynewicz P

SHIBE VINTAGE SPORTS STARTING PITCHING MATCHUP

PHILLIES – Vince Velasquez: 2-3, 4.08 ERA, 1.513 WHIP, 39 hits over 39.2 IP across 16 games (6 starts) with a 45/21 K:BB. It is expected that Velasquez will simply serve as an “Opener” in this game, possibly to be followed by lefty Cole Irvin.
BRAVES – Mike Foltynewicz: 1-5, 6.02 ERA, 1.318 WHIP, 52 hits over 49.1 IP across nine starts with a 42/13 K:BB. Foltynewicz spent the first month of the season on the IL and was activated on April 27. He has produced just three Quality Starts over his first nine, and has allowed a dozen earned runs and five homers in 16 innings over his last three outings.

PHILLIES NUGGETS PREGAME NOTES

  • Foltynewicz has made 13 career appearances (12 starts) against the Phillies in his career: 6-3, 3.28 ERA, 1.164 WHIP, 57 hits allowed over 71.1 IP with a 75/26 K:BB ratio.
  • The Phillies with a win today can get to the .500 mark on the road this season. They are currently 16-17 away from home and 23-14 at Citizens Bank Park. They also look to get to the .500 mark in June, now 6-7 on the month.
  • After the last two night’s dramatic finishes, the Phillies are now 8-7 in one-run games this season.

INJURY REPORT

The Phillies have activated righty reliever Pat Neshek for this game. He joins Edubray Ramos, who returned from the IL this past week, as the Phillies begin to put their injury-depleted bullpen back together. It is expected that Adam Morgan will go on a minor league rehab assignment as soon as Monday, and the lefty could return later next week.

TICKET IQ PROGRAMMING INFORMATION


Getting to be gut-check time early for the 2019 Philadelphia Phillies

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Phillies in desperate need of a gut-check win at SunTrust Park 

To call the Philadelphia Phillies (38-31) loss on Friday night to the Atlanta Braves (41-29) simply frustrating would be an understatement. The host Braves rallied from a five-run deficit entering the bottom of the 7th and a two-run deficit entering the bottom of the 9th to a walkoff, 9-8 victory over the Phillies.

The victory was an eighth straight for the surging Braves. It was also their 11th win in their last 13 games, and raised their record to 23-9 since the club fell two games below the .500 mark back on May 9.
On that day, the Braves were four games behind the first-place Phillies in the standings. But now, after turning their season around and after sending the visiting Phillies to their own fourth loss in five games, the Braves have pushed to the top of the NL East Division and hold a 2.5 game lead.

The Phillies now hold just a two game lead on both the Colorado Rockies and Arizona Diamonbacks, and a 2.5 game lead on the Saint Louis Cardinals, for the final National League Wildcard playoff spot.
Perhaps more important than worrying about the postseason, however, is winning right now. The Phillies are reeling, and all of the Pollyanna positive-thought talk from manager Gabe Kapler or anyone else in the organization isn’t going to change that fact.
This 2019 Phillies ball club has reached gut-check point. The club has gone just 5-9 over the last two weeks since a rousing 11-4 win over Saint Louis at Citizens Bank Park on May 29 pushed them to 11 games over the .500 mark and a 3.5 game division lead.
Can the Phillies regain whatever mojo allowed them to repeatedly overcome their inconsistencies to produce victories over the season’s first two months? Or are the multi-talented defending NL East champion Braves simply too much for them? Are the Braves just a better team? Could this Saturday night game at SunTrust Park in Atlanta possibly be a must-win game already, as we reach the exact mid-point in June?

SATURDAY STARTING LINEUPS

(TO BE UPDATED WHEN ANNOUNCED)

PHILLIES
  1. Jean Segura SS
  2. Bryce Harper RF
  3. J.T. Realmuto C
  4. Rhys Hoskins 1B
  5. Jay Bruce LF
  6. Scott Kingery CF
  7. Sean Rodriguez 3B
  8. Cesar Hernandez 2B
  9. Aaron Nola P
BRAVES
  1. Ronald Acuna Jr.CF
  2. Dansby Swanson SS
  3. Freddie Freeman 1B
  4. Josh Donaldson 3B
  5. Nick Markakis RF
  6. Austin Riley LF
  7. Ozzie Albies 2B
  8. Tyler Flowers C
  9. Sean Newcomb P

SHIBE VINTAGE SPORTS STARTING PITCHING MATCHUP

PHILLIES – Aaron Nola: 6-1, 4.58 ERA, 1.487 WHIP, 80 hits over 76.2 IP across 14 starts with an 86/34 K:BB. Nola finished third in last year’s NL Cy Young Award voting but has produced a roller-coaster of results here in 2019. He is coming off a solid 6.2-inning outing against Cincinnati six days ago at home in a 4-3 Phillies loss. He beat the Braves on Opening Day at Citizens Bank Park, going 6 innings and allowing just one run on two hits with eight strikeouts.
BRAVES – Sean Newcomb: 1-0, 2.59 ERA, 1.340 WHIP, 32 hits over 31.1 IP across 19 games (3 starts) with a 26/10 K:BB. Newcomb is a 26-year-old left-hander who was the first round pick at 15th overall of the Los Angeles Angels in the 2014 MLB Draft. He came to the Braves in a five-player deal back in November 2015 in which Andrelton Simmons went to LA. He began the season in the Atlanta rotation, but was removed after three starts and sent to Triple-A. He returned quickly and made 17 appearances out of the bullpen. This will mark his return to the rotation, and reports are that he is likely to be limited to 75-80 pitches.

PHILLIES NUGGETS PREGAME NOTES

  • The Braves eight-game winning streak marks the first time they have enjoyed one this long since May of 2013. It is also the longest winning streak by any National League team in the 2019 season to this point. As a contrast, the longest winning streak that the Phillies have enjoyed is one four-gamer.
  • Atlanta has now defeated the Phillies in six straight games at home.
  • The Braves 23-9 hot stretch can be directly traced to May 10, the day that manager Brian Snitker moved dynamic young outfielder Ronald Acuna Jr. the 2018 NL Rookie of the Year, into the leadoff spot in his batting order. Acuna has slashed .298/.361/.511 with eight homers, 14 extra-base hits, 23 RBIs, and 22 runs scored out of the leadoff spot since that time.
  • The last three days have marked the first time that Atlanta has been atop the NL East standings this year. Prior to that, the Phillies had spent all but seven days of the 2019 regular season in first place. A year ago on their way to a division crown, the Braves spent 108 days alone in first place.
  • Three home runs last night gave Atlanta 103 on the season. That is three more than the club hit in the entire 2015 season. The franchise record is 235, set back in 2003, and they are currently on pace to blow past that mark.
  • The Braves won the 2018 NL East crown largely by defeating their divisional rivals, going 49-27 within the division. This season, Atlanta has played just 19 games within the division, the least against divisional rivals of any team in baseball. They are now 11-8 against the east in the 2019 season following Friday night’s victory.

INJURY REPORT

PHILLIES: Finally beginning to get some good news on the health front. Edubray Ramos returned to the bullpen this week. Reliever Pat Neshek and center fielder Roman Quinn could return this weekend. Adam Morgan is expected to begin a rehab assignment next week. David Robertson and Tommy Hunter could be back within a month. Adam Haseley suffered a groin strain and can come off the IL on Monday, but may return to the minor leagues at that point with Quinn due to return. Reliever Seranthony Dominguez will rehab and may be able to avoid TJ surgery, but remains out for the foreseeable future. Outfielder Andrew McCutchen had successful knee surgery this week and will return for 2020 spring training.
BRAVES: Center fielder Ender Inciarte remains out with a lumbar strain and has no timetable for a return at this point. Starting pitcher Kevin Gausman was placed on the IL earlier this week suffering from plantar fasciitis in his right foot. Righty reliever Darren O’Day has a right forearm strain and is on the 60-day IL as of June 7.

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Phillies wrap homestand looking to win series from Diamondbacks

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The ball girls are always on their games down at Citizens Bank Park

For skipper Gabe Kapler and the Philadelphia Phillies (38-29) tonight’s game with the visiting Arizona Diamondbacks (35-33) is important for a number of reasons.

First, it would keep the Phillies at least even with the Braves at the top of the NL East Division standings. The Braves host the Pittsburgh Pirates on Wednesday night and Thursday afternoon, leading into a key three-game series with the Phillies in Atlanta this coming weekend.
Second, it would give the Phillies yet another series victory. Doing whatever it takes to somehow win most of their series has been the club’s direction to the top of those standings thus far this season.
The Phillies have gone 13-5-3 in all series during this 2019 season coming into this Dbacks three-gamer. They are 8-2-1 in home series to this point, and haven’t lost one in South Philly since Milwaukee took three of four nearly a month ago.
After their weekend in Hotlanta the club will head to Washington for a series with the red-hot division rival Nationals for a four-game series to open play next week. These two series begin a huge stretch of 26 consecutive games against only NL East rivals, one that will last until beyond the mid-July MLB All-Star Game break.
This will mark the last time for Phillies fans to see their club in person at Citizens Bank Park for more than a week. A final chance for awhile to enjoy the great food choices out on Ashburn Alley, be entertained by the antics of the Phillie Phanatic, and enjoy the ringing of the giant Liberty Bell. One more chance to catch BP fly balls in the stands, and to dump the bodies of their beloved family members on the home team dugout roof.

WAIT, WHAT?

WEDNESDAY STARTING LINEUPS

PHILLIES
  1. Cesar Hernandez 2B
  2. Jean Segura SS
  3. Jay Bruce LF
  4. Rhys Hoskins 1B
  5. J.T. Realmuto C
  6. Scott Kingery CF
  7. Nick Williams RF
  8. Maikel Franco 3B
  9. Zach Eflin P
(First day off for Bryce Harper)
DIAMONDBACKS
  1. Ketel Marte CF
  2. Ildemaro Vargas 2B
  3. David Peralta LF
  4. Adam Jones RF
  5. Eduardo Escobar 3B
  6. Christian Walker 1B
  7. Nick Ahmed SS
  8. Carson Kelly C
  9. Merrill Kelly P

SHIBE VINTAGE SPORTS STARTING PITCHING MATCHUP

PHILLIES: Zach Eflin, 6-5, 2.88 ERA, 1.194 WHIP, 68 hits over 72 IP across 12 starts with a 57/18 K:BB
DBACKS: Merrill Kelly, 6-6, 4.12 ERA, 1.359 WHIP, 76 hits over 74.1 IP across 13 starts with a 58/25 K:BB. Kelly is a 30-year old rookie right-hander who took an unusual path to the big-leagues. He was the Rays eighth round pick in the 2010 MLB Draft, was released by Tampa Bay in December 2014, and went to Korea. There he pitched four seasons with SK Wyverns of the KBO. Kelly signed as a free agent with the Dbacks in December, and made their starting rotation out of spring training.

PHILLIES NUGGETS PREGAME NOTES

  • The Phillies are 25-6 when they score first this season, 34-5 when scoring four or more runs, 34-2 when leading after six innings, and 24-3 when they outhit their opposition. They are also 33-13 when bashing at least one home run.
  • Six different players have received starting assignments in center field this season for the Phillies. Only one of those players, Scott Kingery, is currently active and healthy on the roster.
  • Eflin has been the Phillies most consistent starting pitcher this season. He missed a start with back spasms, but returned last Friday to hold the Cincinnati Reds to one earned run and four hits over 6.1 innings. That marked Eflin’s seventh Quality Start on the season, second only to the nine accumulated by Jake Arrieta.
  • Kelly has been a real find for Arizona. He has six Quality Starts, including his last two, and has pitched into or beyond the 7th inning in each of his last three outings.
  • The annual Phillies Phestival will take place beginning at 3:30 pm on Thursday afternoon at Citizens Bank Park, after which the team will depart for their weekend in Atlanta.  Since the Phillies adopted ALS in 1984 as their primary charity, over $18 million has been raised for patient care and services in the Greater Philadelphia area. Over the last 35 years, players and their wives and girlfriends, coaches, broadcasters, front office staff and day of game staff have come together to host this special event. Last year, more than $725,000 was raised at the annual autograph and auction party.

INJURY REPORT

PHILLIES: Both outfielder Roman Quinn and relief pitcher Edubray Ramos are on rehab assignments and could return to the Phillies soon. Relievers Tommy Hunter and Pat Neshek were due to throw bullpen sessions over the last day or so, and will then be re-evaluated for a possible return. The other four relief pitchers and two positions players on the IL are not near a return.
DBACKS: Infielder Jake Lamb is on the 10-day IL with a left quad strain, is on a Triple-A rehab assignment, and hopes to return soon. There are a half-dozen other Arizona players on the IL, but none are close to a return.

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