Hope you enjoy your holiday weekend and celebrate all that's great about this country and its pastimes. What's everyone have in store for the day? Photo by Erglantz.
Zach Eflin allowed a career-high four home runs and the Phillies were outslugged by the Cincinnati Reds in an 8-4 defeat on Sunday at Citizens Bank Park.
The Phils have now lost nine consecutive series for the first time since 2007. The loss was their 22nd in 28 games. The Reds, who took two of three, picked up their first series win at CBP since Aug. 2006.
Eflin was roughed up for the third consecutive start. The Reds tagged him for seven runs in just five innings. After three hits led to a run in the first inning, he gave up home runs in each of his last four frames. Eflin was optioned to Triple A following the loss. Jeanmar Gomez allowed a solo home run in relief.
Andrew Knapp gave the Phillies an early lead with a three-run homer during a four-run second inning. However, three double plays stifled the Phillies' offense, which was held scoreless after the second.
Scott Feldman improved to 4-4 with the win for the Reds. The Phils dropped to 17-31 while the Reds improved to 24-25.
Starting pitching report
Eflin stumbled through five innings, allowing nine hits. He had held opponents to just four homers in first six starts, but has now has let up seven in his last two appearances. Over his past three starts, Eflin's been tagged for 22 runs in 15 innings. He's given up at least nine hits in all five May starts.
A poor sign for Eflin: Only two of his outs came on the ground. The Reds were all over his fastball and scored in each of his five innings. His ERA has gone from 2.81 to 6.13 since May 17.
Feldman labored through a 32-pitch second inning in which he gave up four runs. He settled down afterward with a pair of double plays to get through five innings. The veteran righty struck out the last two batters he faced with a man on third and one out.
Luis Garcia threw two shutout innings, striking out one. Jeanmar Gomez gave up rookie Patrick Kivlehan's second home run of the day in the ninth inning, snapping the Phillies' bullpen's scoreless streak at 23 2/3 innings. Gomez allowed three hits and the one run in two innings.
Blake Wood, Wandy Peralta, Drew Storen and Raisel Iglesias each threw shutout innings in relief of Feldman.
At the plate
Manager Pete Mackanin wanted the Phillies to string together 4-5 hits and they did so in the second inning. Tommy Joseph and Michael Saunders led off with back-to-back singles before Knapp drove them in with his 434-foot blast. Knapp laid off two high fastballs after falling behind 0-2 and drilled a curveball into the Phillies' bullpen.
Freddy Galvis followed with a double. Even Eflin aided the cause with his first career RBI on a run-scoring single.
The top two in the order — Cesar Hernandez and Odubel Herrera — went 0 for 8. Everyone else in the lineup had at least one hit. Saunders and Aaron Altherr each had two hits while Ty Kelly had a pinch-hit double.
Adam Duvall, Scott Schebler and Kivlehan combined for five home runs with Duvall and Kivlehan notching multi-hit games. Jose Peraza and Zack Cozart extended their hitting streaks to 13 and 11 games, respectively, in the first inning.
The Phillies head on the road and begin a three-game set with the Miami Marlins, who they beat twice in April at Citizens Bank Park.
Monday, 7:10 p.m. — Jeremy Hellickson (5-2, 4.28) vs. Edinson Volquez (0-7, 4.82)
Tuesday, 7:10 p.m.— Vince Velasquez (2-4, 5.55) vs. Justin Nicolino (0-1, 5.40)
Wednesday, 1:10 p.m. — Aaron Nola (2-2, 4.34) vs. Dan Straily (3.83)
PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- Clearwater Threshers pitcher Cole Irvin is a student of baseball, but maybe the word “student” – simply stated and in its base meaning – describes the young left-hander best.
A graduate of the University of Oregon who completed his undergraduate degree in sociology in just 3½ years, Irvin has applied a studious, methodical approach to his work on the mound, where he starred as a freshman and senior for the Ducks as a regular Friday night starter.
His 2014 collegiate season was marred by Tommy John surgery, but he reflects on it now as being an important part of him staying in college and obtaining his degree. He remained in Eugene another semester after getting drafted by Pittsburgh in the 32nd round, his second time getting selected.
“I look at it as a positive. I wouldn’t have been able to finish my degree at Oregon if I didn’t have the surgery,” said Irvin, who was drafted in the fifth round by the Phillies last June.
“Sociology covers so many topics. It’s a great degree to have. My studies varied from the population of salmon affecting society to the study of social media. There was so much I learned in so many diverse topics. I like interacting because everyone’s opinion mattered.”
The sociological background also easily translates to the diamond for the 6-foot-4, 190-pound Irvin.
“It’s the same in baseball. The more information you have about the opposing team, our team, if we’re doing the shift and other things… now you have all that collected information. Now you just go do your thing. I think I apply (sociology) to so many different aspects of what I do,” he said.
Sociology aside, Clearwater pitching coach Aaron Fultz has been impressed with the mental approach Irvin has displayed.
“Very (much so),” replied Fultz when asked if the southpaw is the quintessential cerebral pitcher. “He’s a no frills guy and he’s here to work.”
Fultz broke in to MLB and played three seasons with the San Francisco Giants – 2000 to 2002 – and the former big leaguer said Irvin reminds him from a work ethic standpoint of a Bay Area teammate of his.
“He kind of reminds me of Jeff Kent. He comes here and he wants to work and get better,” said Fultz of Irvin, who also bears a slight resemblance to the five-time all-star and 2000 NL MVP of the Giants.
That industrious attitude worked well for Irvin in his first spring training camp in the Grapefruit League in February. He broke camp by bypassing Low A Lakewood and joining the Threshers. Then he proceeded to overwhelm hitters in the Florida State League.
Irvin, 23, was 3-1 in four starts in April, posting a 1.04 ERA. In 26 innings, he allowed 22 hits, struck out 20 and walked just three. His WHIP stood at 0.96.
“His first four or five starts, I thought he was the best pitcher in the league,” Fultz said. “Since then, we’ve had a little hiccup here and there about location and just giving up some hits. He’s had some bad luck, too.
“But I love the way he goes about his business. He gets the ball and he’s ready to pitch. He has a very good idea and is a smart kid. He doesn’t throw 95, but he’s left-handed – that helps – and he has a really good change-up. His stuff is better than average, but his tenacity and the way he goes after hitters is a really good selling point for him.”
Irvin said he tries not read what is written about him or the multitude of numbers baseball produces.
“The past three outings haven’t gone the way I’ve anticipated, especially after the first five starts of the year,” said Irvin, who is 3-5 with a 3.20 ERA after four straight losses starting on May 4 against Jupiter.
He will try to break that winless skid on Tuesday when he faces Florida back in Clearwater.
Of his standout first pro season at short-season Williamsport last year (5-1, 1.97 in 10 games), Irvin admitted he doesn’t look at the stats, saying, “Honestly, I don’t know the numbers. I don’t get ahead of myself and look at stats. Every once in a while, I’ll look at media stuff, but I try not to follow that stuff.
“Once it gets in your head, you start to get anxious about moving up and thinking about things you’re not supposed to be thinking about. I’m supposed to be thinking right now, ‘What can I do to get better and get to the big leagues?’ It’s not about being in the minor leagues; it’s about being in the big leagues.”
Irvin has enjoyed his season so far and, like a good sociology student, is harvesting his own data.
“There’s a lot to build off of. It’s my first full season, so it’s exciting to spend a whole year playing baseball and doing something you love and is fun. It’s something I’ve dreamed of as a kid,” he said.
“I never thought I’d be here this quick, so I’m taking it one day at a time. I can only focus on this day, and tomorrow will come tomorrow.”
Three questions with Cole Irvin
You throw a one-seam fastball. What does it do?
“It’s literally across one seam, holding it with one finger. It depends on the wrist. If it’s on the side of the ball, it’s going to fade (versus righty batters). But if your wrist is more on the inside toward your body, it’s going to cut. I only use it as a strikeout pitch. [Laughing] I’d say it’s a wipe-out pitch, but I don’t have wipe-out stuff like most of the guys on this team. It’s an effect pitch, where there’s a little uncertainty where it’ll go.”
You’re from Yorba Linda, CA, the birthplace of Richard Nixon and home of the Richard Nixon Presidential Library and Museum. Have any good Nixon stories?
“Actually, I do. When I was 12, I had to do community service for the high school I was going to go to. I had to have so many hours. The library was looking for someone to clean the helicopter – Air Force One helicopter or whatever it was called. Every Sunday morning I’d show up at 5:30 a.m. to clean that helicopter. I had to go through the Secret Service back door and security checks. I was 12, so there wasn’t much information on me. I spent four or five Sundays cleaning that helicopter. It was so much fun.”
As an Oregon Duck, you were able to play in the Civil War against the Oregon State Beavers and New York Mets outfielder Michael Conforto. Any success?
“My senior year was the first time we’ve ever gone to Goss Stadium and won a series at Oregon State. I pitched against Conforto and also played with him on the Team USA collegiate team that had (Chicago Cubs star Kyle) Schwarber. Honestly, Michael’s one of the great guys to know and talk to. He’s just a world-class, awesome guy.”