Keep On Swingin': Phils Ride Huge Eighth to 10-2 Win

Keep On Swingin': Phils Ride Huge Eighth to 10-2 Win

If you suffered through six innings of silence at the plate, I hope you stayed up for the final three. Both pitchers had their way most of the night, with Roy Halladay and Kyle McLellan combining to allow only one run through six innings. Doc left the game for a pinch hitter in the top of the seventh with the Phillies down by a run, and as much as it may have hurt to lift him, Charlie Manuel was rewarded with a clutch pinch hit by Ross Gload to tie the game.

After that, the Phils got real comfortable at Ryan's House. With a gracious parade of hosts coming out of the Cardinals' bullpen, the Phillies helped themselves to an nine-run eighth inning, powering their way to a 10-2 final. It was a pretty interesting ride, too... More on the Phils' big eighth, with illustrative pop culture subheads, after the jump.

Carlos Ruiz led the way all night, even when the rest of the bats were still asleep. Chooch finished up with a 4-4 showing, plus a walk that he'd later score on as part of the bloodletting that was the eighth inning.

After Gload singled in Raul Ibanez to tie the game in the sixth, with Chooch drawing attention on the base paths and preventing a throw to the plate (although ultimately ending the inning), Mike Stutes allowed a go-ahead run in the bottom of the seventh. Tony LaRussa also had success in hitting for his pitcher, with Mark Hamilton singling to move Daniel Descalso over to third, and Skip Schumaker knocking him in.

HOME INVASION
McLellan watched from the dugout as the eighth inning began with a 2-1 Cardinals lead. Then, like a man witnessing his house be robbed over a closed-circuit television, he watched as five different St. Louis relievers were assaulted for five hits, four walks, two HBPs, and NINE runs.

EVERYBODY HATES JASON
The second of the two Cardinals out of the pen was Jason Motte, who did his best John Lannan impression, hitting the only two batters he faced, Ryan Howard and Placido Polanco. The Howard HBP (which was not happy about) loaded the bases, and the Polly plunk tied the game at 2. It was a scary moment though, with the pitch hitting him in the hand. X-rays were said to be negative after the game, and Polanco said he thinks he can play on Wednesday night.

After Motte was sent, we hope, to hell, three other relievers came in, and none could stop what had been started. Ben Francisco singled in the go-ahead run, Chooch walked hard, plating Howard, followed by Michael Martinez also drawing an RBBI. Yes, in the same inning, the Cardinals bullpen allowed a back-to-back HBPs to load the bases and score a run, and back-to-back run-scoring walks. Implosion.

MERCY IS FOR THE WEAK
Jimmy Rollins then reminded us of the immortal words of John Kreese, singling in a pair of runs. After a Shane Victorino walk (at this point it was hard not to point and laugh at the Cardinals), Chase Utley poked a single through the gap into left, scoring another pair of runs. Howard joined the party again, singling in Victorino to bring the Phillies' total to double digits.

After Antonio Bastardo pitched a scoreless eighth, the Phils again threatened in the ninth… well, I should say, the Cards again threatened to allow more runs, with an error and a walk coming after Ruiz singled, but Maikel Cleto ultimately got out of the inning unscathed. David Herndon struck out two in the ninth on his way to a perfect frame to put us all to bed.

Overshadowed by the schadenfreudetastic comeback here was a fine start by Halladay, who oddly walked the leadoff man and the third hitter he faced, but struck out four in the first three innings and five total, then allowed only four hits in his six frames.

It wasn't the easiest night on either team's fans, with the Cards contingent watching a massacre in the eighth, and Phillies fans riding the roller coaster from "offensive ineptitude" to "ya just can't count this team out." Could be in for an interest couple of games to finish out the series.

Photo by Scott Rovak, US Presswire

Phillies-Brewers 5 things: Opportunity for a rare 4-game win streak

Phillies-Brewers 5 things: Opportunity for a rare 4-game win streak

Phillies (33-61) vs. Brewers (52-47)
7:05 p.m. on NBC10; streaming live on CSNPhilly.com and the NBC Sports App

For the first time since they won four straight from June 3-6, the Phillies have a three-game winning streak going. On Friday night, they were carried by the arm of Aaron Nola, who is on a roll since early June (see story). Going for the Phils' fourth straight win, Jeremy Hellickson toes the rubber Saturday against rookie lefty Brent Suter.

Here are five things to know for the game:

1. Gone streaking?
A winning streak! The Phillies have put together one of their better stretches of the season over the last week, winning four out of five beginning with the final game of their set in Milwaukee. 

While the offense has picked up its play in that span (6.2 runs per game in the last five), the pitching needs to be mentioned first. The staff has come together well and looks much more like what the team expected in the spring. Fitting, the three-game streak began with six quality innings from Vince Velasquez. This season has been a struggle for the righty, who came off the disabled list in the win.

On Wednesday, Nick Pivetta allowed three runs in 5 1/3 innings, but the bullpen held the Marlins scoreless. And then there was Nola on Friday. He looked sharp from the get-go and found a second gear when the lineup turned over. The second time through the lineup, he struck out seven batters in the midst of retiring 10 straight batters.

Now to the offense. Going into Friday's win, the Phillies were ninth in team OPS in July. Nick Williams has 10 hits in his last six games, picking up where Aaron Altherr left off. Maikel Franco has a five-game hit streak and has raised his average to .233, the highest it's been since the Phillies' opening series in April.

Meanwhile, the Brewers are ice cold. They've lost six straight and have a tenuous hold on their division with the red-hot Chicago Cubs on their heels. They're only a game up on the Cubs and are one behind in the loss column. They're only 2.5 games ahead of Pittsburgh and 3.5 up on the Cardinals. The clock may have hit midnight on baseball's first-half Cinderella.

2. Hellickson at home
In his last time out, Hellickson had the Brewers off balance for most of his outing. He was cruising into the fifth inning with a 1-0 lead, but the righty made one big mistake, leading to a home run by Brett Phillips that put Milwaukee up.

While the Phillies won the game, it ended Hellickson's day. It was the first time in his last five starts that he had failed to complete at least six innings.

The righty has been on a mini-roll since he was roughed up by the Red Sox at Citizens Bank Park last month. In his last five appearances, he has a 3.26 ERA with 25 strikeouts in 30 1/3 innings. He's allowed only 30 baserunners in that period and held batters to a .227 average. 

Looking at Hellickson's season as a whole, he has similar numbers away from CBP in 2017 compared to last year. However, he's faltered at home. He had a 3.16 ERA in 99 2/3 innings at CBP last year with a 4.55 K/BB ratio. This year, it's a 4.59 ERA with a 1.59 K/BB ratio while his home run rate has ballooned. It's not a great look for a pitcher the Phillies would like to trade.

3. Brewers turn to the rookie
With their division lead evaporating, the Brewers are turning to Suter, a rookie making just his 12th appearance and fifth start of the season after making 14 and two last year. 

And the lefty has looked good in limited action. In 32 innings, he has a 3.09 ERA with 27 strikeouts and 10 walks. He's allowed 32 hits and just one home run.

The 27-year-old lefty has had success despite his four-seam fastball topping out in the upper 80s. He still throws it 70.3 percent of the time working in his mid-70s slider and low-80s changeup with some success. He'll rarely throw his curveball. 

One may wonder how a lefty who doesn't touch 90 mph can handle RHBs. Believe it or not, Suter actually has a reverse split for his career, holding righties to a .680 OPS while LHBs hit .803 off him.

Suter has made three starts in July and has held hitters to a .254/.294/.317 slash line in 17 innings, striking out 15 and walking four.

4. Players to watch
Phillies: Speaking of lefties, Odubel Herrera has had better command of the strike zone recently. He's drawn a walk in four consecutive games and has five walks to go with nine hits since the All-Star break.

Brewers: Eric Thames has cooled off considerably since his hot April, but he still leads the Brewers with 23 home runs this season and has a .774 OPS since May. 

5. This and that
• The Phillies haven't won back-to-back series since sweeping Atlanta and Miami April 21-27. They've lost every home series since taking two of three from the Giants on June 2-4.

• In five career starts against the Brewers, Hellickson is 3-1 with a 2.89 ERA over 28 innings. 

• Mark Leiter Jr. took a loss for Triple A Lehigh Valley on Friday, but Rhys Hoskins and Scott Kingery hit their 21st and fifth home runs for the IronPigs, respectively.

With off-the-charts command, Kyle Young aims to become tallest MLB pitcher ever

With off-the-charts command, Kyle Young aims to become tallest MLB pitcher ever

WILLIAMSPORT, Pa. — Phillies prospect Kyle Young is aiming to become the tallest pitcher in MLB history.
 
The 7-foot left-hander out of Long Island has become the staff ace in Short-Season Class A Williamsport, with a 1.59 ERA, 0.99 WHIP, 34 strikeouts and just seven walks in 28 1/3 innings this season. Those numbers would be impressive for any 19-year-old pitcher, but when you consider his size, Young’s command is off the charts.
 
His coaches attribute that ability to an athleticism rarely seen in taller pitchers.
 
“The amazing thing with him is the coordination he brings to the table,” Crosscutters pitching coach Hector Berrios said. “It’s been off the charts for a guy his size to be able to repeat his delivery and not only do it with one pitch, he does it with all three pitches.”
 
Right now, those three pitches include a fastball that reaches the low 90s, a changeup and an off-speed pitch that Young calls a “slurve.” And he believes that his height gives him an additional weapon.
 
“Not even just because of the intimidation or anything, but also just the downward plane that I can get on the ball with my fastball," Young said. "I think that really helps induce groundballs. I know they’re going to hit it, everybody hits fastballs, but just try to get weak contact. That's the main goal.”
 
“He hides the ball fairly well in addition to the release point being a tad bit closer to the plate, which matters,” said Crosscutters manager Pat Borders, who you might remember as the starting catcher for the Blue Jays in the 1993 World Series. “If you get a release point that's a foot closer, it's like adding some velocity. He's a kid now physically. In a couple years, you're going to have somebody that's throwing harder and already has the mindset and physical skills to do some damage.”
 
The Phillies selected Young in the 22nd round last year, and a $225,000 bonus swayed him to turn pro rather than accept a scholarship to Hofstra. Early in his professional career, it looks like money well spent by the Phillies.

You can see more on Young, 2017 first-round pick Adam Haseley and 18-year-old power-hitting sensation Jhailyn Ortiz on the next episode of Phillies Clubhouse, which airs Saturday (11 p.m.) and Sunday (12:30 p.m., 6 p.m.) on CSN.