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PostHeaderIcon Game 92 Preview: Phillies at Brewers

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On Wednesday night, the Phillies strung together a third-straight win for the first time since their five-game winning streak that appeared to be a turnaround at the end of June. This time, a modest winning streak does not nearly the same kind of excitement.

The Phillies (40-51) bid for a sweep on Thursday afternoon looking for their fourth straight win. The Milwaukee Brewers (52-40) are looking to avoid the sweep and rebound from three straight losses. First pitch is at 2:10 p.m.

David Buchanan (4-5, 4.82 ERA) gets the start for the Phillies. Buchanan took the loss in his last start, allowing three runs on six hits in six innings against the Pirates. Buchanan is making his first career start against the Brewers and at Miller Park. It is fifth start on the road.

The Phillies will face right-hander Matt Garza (6-5, 3.78 ERA). Garza’s last start was his best on the season as he bested the Reds with a two-hit shutout. Garza faced the Phillies on April 9, allowing four runs – three earned – on eight hits in six innings in a no-decision. In six career starts against the Phillies, Garza is 2-1 with a 1.77 ERA. At Miller Park, he is 5-4 with a 3.29 ERA.

Game notes, lineups and more are available after the jump.

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PostHeaderIcon Fire It Up: Giles, Papelbon hold down lead as Phillies beat Brewers

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Cole Hamels was approaching 30 pitching in the seventh inning when rookie Ken Giles entered from the bullpen for the Phillies ace. There were two on with two outs following a gutsy strikeout for Hamels.

Giles got away with a 2-1 pitch to Rickie Weeks that sailed to deep center but was tracked down by Tony Gwynn Jr. Giles went on to work around a lead-off double in the eighth, setting up a perfect ninth for Jonathan Papelbon as the Phillies sealed just their second win in the last 11 games on Monday night by a score of 3-2. Read the rest of this entry »

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PostHeaderIcon Game 86 Preview: Phillies at Pirates

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Finally, the Phillies were able to work some late-inning magic to snap a six-game losing streak. The road trip continues with a holiday weekend trip to Pittsburgh.

The Phillies (37-48) look to build on Thursday’s win this weekend. The Pittsburgh Pirates (44-41) face the Phillies for the first time this season, still in search of the magic that led to a 2013 playoff appearance. First pitch is at 5:05 p.m.

Roberto Hernandez (3-7, 4.26 ERA) gets the start for the Phillies. Hernandez closed out a rough June with another hard-luck loss, falling to the Braves after allowing four runs – two earned – on three hits in seven innings. Hernandez was 1-5 in June with a 5.03 ERA. In two games and one career start against the Pirates, Hernandez is 1-0 with a 2.79 ERA. His only start came at PNC Park, where he allowed three runs on five hits in six innings.

The Phillies will face right-hander Gerrit Cole (6-4, 4.02 ERA). Cole suffered the loss in his last start on June 28, his first since going on the DL after a start on June 3. He allowed five runs on seven hits in four innings to the Mets. Cole has made one career start against the Phillies, allowing three runs on eight hits in 5 1/3 innings, taking the loss. The start was at PNC Park.

Game notes, lineups and more are available after the jump.

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PostHeaderIcon That’s A Snap: Phillies streak ends with 9th-inning comeback

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In the fifth inning and again in the eighth inning, it felt like it was happening again.

The Marlins took a 2-0 lead in the fifth. In the eighth, Jake Diekman let a Phillies lead slip away, putting the Marlins in front by a run.

It was happening again.

Then suddenly, the Phillies managed to find life in the ninth. The week-long losing streak did not reach seven games.

A two-run ninth propelled the Phillies to a 5-4 win over the Marlins in the series finale on Thursday night at Marlins Park. Read the rest of this entry »

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PostHeaderIcon Battering Ram: Braves tag Phillies for 5 in 8th, cruise in opener

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Early scoring has been a big part of the Phillies recent wins – when those wins have come. With the halfway point of the season approaching, the Phillies have followed five-game winning streak just a week ago with six losses in eight games. A ninth game follows in just hours. But first, the Phillies turned a winnable game into a laugher. Ryan Howard’s defense started the problems in the fourth. In the eighth, the Phillies recently hot bullpen struggled mightily – but not with the usual suspects. In the end, it equated to a 9-2 loss to the Braves in Game 1 of the day-night doubleheader on Saturday at Citizens Bank Park.  Read the rest of this entry »

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PostHeaderIcon Game 80 Preview: Phillies vs. Braves

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The Braves got some early fireworks on Friday night, leading to a win. There will be one more round of fireworks on Saturday night, but first, there is an afternoon game to open Saturday’s doubleheader.

The Phillies (36-43) continue to see-saw between wins and losses, and look to right the ship again following Friday’s loss. The Atlanta Braves (41-38) go for a second straight win with a chance to claim the NL East lead again on Saturday. First pitch of Game 1 of the doubleheader is at 2:05 p.m.

Roberto Hernandez (3-6, 4.41 ERA) gets the start for the Phillies. Hernandez allowed just two runs on three hits in six innings in his last start against the Marlins, but suffered the loss in the Phillies 4-0 defeat. He faced the Braves on June 18, allowing five runs on eight hits in six innings to pick up the victory in the Phillies 10-5 win. He also allowed two runs on four hits in six innings against the Braves on April 14, taking a no-decision in the Phillies 9-6 loss. In three career starts against the Braves, Hernandez is 2-0 with a 4.26 ERA. At Citizens Bank Park, he is 1-5 with a 3.76 ERA in 11 games and nine starts.

The Phillies will face right-hander Ervin Santana (5-5, 4.15 ERA). Santana suffered the loss in his last start to the Nationals, allowing three runs on six hits in six innings. He also suffered a loss on June 17 against the Phillies, allowing four runs – three earned – on eight hits in six innings. He also faced the Phillies on April 14, allowing one run on four hits in six innings, taking a no-decision in the Braves 9-6 win. In three career starts against the Phillies, Santana is 1-1 with a 1.89 ERA. At Citizens Bank Park, he is 1-0 with a 0.69 ERA.

Game notes, lineups and more are available after the jump.

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PostHeaderIcon Morning Review: Time for a break from Brown

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When a player is struggling, usually it takes no more than a day off to try to reset the mentality of the player. Domonic Brown got that day off on Tuesday night. On Wednesday night, there was nothing different about Brown’s game.

It started in the second inning. Brown had a golden opportunity to give the Phillies the lead, with two runners in scoring position and one out. The Marlins were conceding a run. Brown struck out on a 3-2 pitch in the dirt. The Phillies didn’t score that inning. They lost on Wednesday night by a run.

In the fourth, a ball off the bat of Marcell Ozuna sailed over the head of Brown, who misplayed the ball. It was an RBI double. A two-run double followed. Those were the only three runs the Marlins scored.

There were many players in the lineup at fault for scoring just two runs in nine innings. But Brown was right in the center, even with an RBI single in the sixth. It was simply another defensive play that could not be overlooked. It cost the Phillies the game. Read the rest of this entry »

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PostHeaderIcon Piecing It Together: Utley’s single, Howard’s shot give Phillies comeback win

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As the ninth inning started, a daunting stat faced the Phillies again. They were 0-21 when trailing after eight innings.

With the game on the line, the Phillies best offensive player was standing at the plate. In the Phillies two previous losses on Sunday and Tuesday, Chase Utley had made the final out the same way, staring at strike three. Not on Wednesday.

Utley singled past a diving Josh Rutledge at second to tie the game. Ryan Howard followed with a three-run walk-off home run to give the Phillies a 6-3 win over the Colorado Rockies at Citizens Bank Park. Read the rest of this entry »

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PostHeaderIcon Morning Review: Phillies mediocrity on full display

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There was nothing new on or off the field for the Phillies following the third straight loss for the team on Friday night. There was frustration on the field and an excuse off it.

The odds were stacked against the Phillies offensively from the beginning against a pitcher like Clayton Kershaw. The Phillies struggle to get hits was warranted. But Kershaw certainly didn’t have his best night on the mound, and the Phillies had three innings to put something together against the Dodgers bullpen, so Kershaw doesn’t deserve all the credit for the 2-0 Los Angeles win at Citizens Bank Park.

In the fourth inning, it was runners at second and third with no outs. In the sixth, first and second with no outs. In the seventh, the bases were loaded with no outs. The Phillies went 0-for-9 with runners in scoring position.

If it’s not the offense, it’s the bullpen. If it’s not the bullpen, it’s the defense. The Phillies are a never-ending cycle of incompetence.

They are nothing more than a few exhibits of glory in the Hall of Fame, a couple of greats immortalized forever and currently operating like a glorified minor-league team, playing in a state-of-the-art ballpark in front of quarter-capacity crowds without any sense of fundamentals.

Ryne Sandberg stressed the basis of fundamentals leading to success. If you just managed to catch a game for the first time in the 2014 season on Friday night, you’d wonder how the Phillies even had 20 wins to their name.

A lot has actually gone right for the Phillies in 2014. Chase Utley, Jimmy Rollins and Ryan Howard are all healthy to this point. Utley is having a monster year. Rollins looks determined and has essentially contributed in some small way every night. Marlon Byrd has proven to be a solid offseason signing. He has his moments, but overall, the Phillies and Ruben Amaro Jr. could have certainly done worse.

And yet, the Phillies can’t seem to ever find the combination that works. Byrd has been excellent when out of the spotlight and hitting fifth. On Friday, as he has against most left-handed starters, he hit fourth. And he looked completely lost at the plate.

The Phillies outfield on Friday consisted of Darin Ruf, John Mayberry Jr. and Byrd. Later, Ruf exited for Domonic Brown and Mayberry was pulled for Tony Gwynn Jr. All five outfielders on the roster played. With the exception of Byrd, now a 35-year-old veteran, the other four could easily be fan attractions at Triple-A.

But instead, they are in Philadelphia, where there are no better options.

There have been years far worse. You may not be able to remember them, but they do exist in the deep and dreadful history of the Phillies. But the Phillies aren’t just a capsized ship, they are on what feels like a never-ending plight in the bottomless pit of baseball.

Look back at Amaro’s quotes about the Phillies playing “like a mediocre ballclub.” When you put it in perspective with the rest of baseball, the Phillies are not far away from contending with the players they have on paper. A few additional bullpen pieces should add up to the wins that got away. A few more bats may provide that run or two that the Phillies failed to get in other games.

But baseball is a lot more than what you have on paper. The Phillies sheet is in tatters.

A look back at the crucial seventh inning shows the basis of the Phillies fundamental problem. It is awareness and discipline that are lacking here.

With the bases loaded, thanks to an error by the Dodgers no less, Domonic Brown steps up as the Phillies first chance to get on the board. He hit the first pitch on a line drive to left that was caught.

In the game’s most critical moments, there is nothing worse than hacking at the first pitch and hoping it ends up being in your wheelhouse. Strike or not, taking one pitch can help set the tone. Brown might be the most impatient player on the team at this point in the season and his continual impatience hurt the Phillies in that at-bat.

Granted, there was also a mistake on the basepaths in that time. Ben Revere started up the line and froze. Because the play happened so fast, he had no time to recover. He was caught off third and had to retreat instead of tagging up and turning Brown’s first-pitch line out into a sacrifice fly.

If all that happens, Brown ends up off the hook. It’s a productive at-bat that cuts the lead in half. Instead, no run scores and Brown looks foolish for hacking away instead of exercising patience.

Bring on Jimmy Rollins. Rollins was also over-eager at the plate, swinging at the second pitch. A weak grounder to third resulted in an easy force at home.

Carlos Ruiz had everything going right in his at-bat with two outs. There’s pressure, because only a hit will score any runs for the Phillies, but he has a 2-0 count so he’s halfway to plating a run without doing anything. The third pitch from J.P. Howell was a sinker that dipped outside. Ruiz swung. Big mistake. The next pitch had similar movement – outer half, borderline strike. Ruiz poked at it and lofted a lazy fly ball to right to end the inning.

Baserunning blunders, impatience at the plate, fielding gaffes, mistake pitches – the Phillies could roll a six-sided die and only land on these four options. There is no such thing as a perfect game for the 2014 Phillies, right down to their last win on Tuesday, as they clinged to a one-run lead behind their porous and incapable bullpen.

This flawed team is heading straight down the path many envisioned with no end in sight. There are no tradeables on this team – none that would attract another team anyway – and a long summer will end possibly where it sits now: in last place, several games below .500 and searching for answers and a new beginning.

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PostHeaderIcon Doom and Gloom: Dodgers shut out Phillies in opener

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The golden opportunity presented itself in the seventh inning. A sacrifice bunt attempt by Tony Gwynn Jr. was botched in the field by Brandon League, loading the bases with no outs. Down by two, surely the Phillies would at least find a way to tie a game following that.

Think again.

For the fourth time in the last eight games at Citizens Bank Park, the Phillies were shut out, being silenced with prime scoring chances in the fourth, sixth and seventh to fall 2-0 in the series opener against the Dodgers on Friday night. Read the rest of this entry »

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