Bad offense, bad 'pen, bad trip; Phils lose again

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Bad offense, bad 'pen, bad trip; Phils lose again

BOX SCORE

MINNEAPOLIS -- The Phillies’ tour of the upper Midwest is turning into a disaster.

They suffered another loss to a last-place club Tuesday night when they were beaten by the Minnesota Twins, 3-2, in an interleague game at Target Field (see Instant Replay).

The Twins broke a 2-2 tie against relievers Mike Adams and Antonio Bastardo in the bottom of the eighth inning for the win.

Some of the ugly facts:

The Phils have been held to two of fewer runs in 23 of 65 games.

They have lost four in a row to last-place clubs Milwaukee and Minnesota.

The four losses have come after the Phils briefly poked their head above .500. They are now 31-34 and are eight games back of division-leading Atlanta in the NL East.

“It’s not good,” said Cole Hamels, who once again received little run support on a night he allowed just two runs over six innings. “It’s really not great. When you think you’ve finally got momentum and then you get the results we’ve been having, it’s not good.

“If [losses] add up, it’s not going to put us in a good situation. Losing four in a row makes it add up real fast, especially when we just got over .500. Now we have to start back over again.”

The Phillies are 2-12 in Hamels’ 14 starts. That’s mind-blowing considering Hamels entered this season on everybody’s short list of Cy Young candidates.

Hamels had a little hiccup in this game. He appeared a little unnerved by home-plate umpire Paul Emmel’s strike zone in fourth inning and got hit hard by four consecutive batters. Three of them doubled and one singled as the Twins took a 2-1 lead. Hamels did not give up a run the rest of the way but was out of the game earlier than he liked because the Twins fouled off a slew of pitches that pushed his count to 108.

Hamels would not admit to being frustrated with Emmel, even though he pointedly turned his back on the umpire at one point in the fourth inning.

“I have the utmost respect for umpires,” he said.

All right, on to where this game was lost. Obviously, the Phillies didn’t score enough against a pitcher -- P.J. Walters -- who entered the game with a .329 opponents’ batting average. Phillies hitters had typically poor plate discipline. Domonic Brown, Ryan Howard and Jimmy Rollins all made outs with men on base by swinging at pitches out of the strike zone.

“Yeah,” manager Charlie Manuel said when asked about those at-bats. “But that’s who they are. Tomorrow night they might hit some pitches. That’s how our offense runs. That’s why you look there and see a .248 batting average. You can start right there. That’s inconsistency. We talk about it every night. Tomorrow night it might be there and the following night it won’t be. That’s kind of how it comes and goes.”

Howard did come up with a big hit for his club with two outs in the eighth when he benefited from the Twins’ decision not to employ a shift and slashed a single to right, through the hole between first and second. The hit scored Kevin Frandsen, who had led off with a pinch-hit single, with the tying run.

The game didn’t stay tied long.

Manuel went to Adams for the eighth. Adams had spent the previous four days nursing shoulder soreness caused by biceps tendinitis, but he felt good enough to go and Manuel said he felt confident in using the right-hander because “he was ready to pitch and I wanted to bring him in.”

Jamey Carroll, who entered the night hitting .202, was the first batter Adams faced. He walked on four pitches. Adams then allowed a single before getting two outs.

With runners on the corners, two outs and lefty-hitting Justin Morneau coming up, Manuel went to the lefty Bastardo. The count was 1-and-1 when Morneau fouled off two fastballs and two sliders. With the count 1-and-2, Bastardo threw a fastball down the middle -- he said he was trying to throw it to the outside part of the plate -- and Morneau drove it up the middle for the go-ahead run.

“We had two outs and Antonio just couldn’t get him,” Manuel said. “He had him 1-and-2 and it looked like he threw a fastball low down the middle of the plate or something. Antonio has to get Morneau. That’s why he’s there.”

Adams took the loss, his fourth. His ERA is 4.22. He has allowed 19 hits and 11 walks in 21 1/3 innings. The Phillies signed Adams to fix the eighth inning that was such a problem last year. He hasn’t.

“I’m disappointed I’m letting my teammates down,” Adams said. “I’m frustrated. It seems like it has been one at-bat, one hitter that’s been kicking my butt and I need to fix that.”

Adams had offseason surgery to correct thoracic outlet syndrome. Doctors removed the rib under his collarbone in the surgery. Earlier this season, Adams missed time with a bad back and recently was sidelined with the sore shoulder. He would not use health as an excuse for his performance Tuesday night.

“I’m good enough to go out there,” he said. “I’m just not pitching like I need to right now.”

Twins 4, Phillies 2: Aaron Nola encouraged by good health, still looking for command

Twins 4, Phillies 2: Aaron Nola encouraged by good health, still looking for command

BOX SCORE

CLEARWATER, Fla. -- Aaron Nola has not had a great spring.

But in the big picture, well, maybe he has.

Nola was one of the Phillies' biggest and most important question marks coming into camp. He had missed the final two months of the 2016 season because of an elbow injury. All he needed to do this spring to be in the starting rotation was show that he was healthy.

He's done that.

He pitched 5 2/3 innings against the Minnesota Twins and threw 82 pitches in his fifth start of the spring on Thursday. He gave up six hits, including a two-run homer, walked one and struck out six.

He's up to 17 2/3 innings for the spring -- without an elbow issue.

"I'm over that," Nola said after the game. "My elbow feels really good. I haven't had any pain or problems with it. I don't even think about it throwing or in games.

"Everything has been very positive. My body is healthy."

Nola, who lines up to fill the fifth spot in the Phillies' rotation, hasn't had good results this spring. He has given up 19 hits and 13 earned runs. But, again, the Phillies were only looking for good health.

"He's been working on his changeup," manager Pete Mackanin said. "Today, he threw more changeups than I've ever seen him throw. The changeup he threw for the home run, he admitted, 'I would never throw that pitch in a game.' But he's working on it, trying to get it going for him, and I think it's going to be a good pitch for him. 

"He really pitched better than the result he got. He had a lot of work with his changeup, which is important. He was as sharp as we've seen him."

Coming into camp, Mackanin was concerned about Nola's health.

"I'm less concerned right now," the manager said. "It's always going to be in the back of my mind. But it's good to see 92, 93, 94 (mph) coming out of his hand, which is important. Once he regains that command, and he showed real good command of his fastball down in the zone today, he's going to be back to where he was -- with even maybe a little more velocity. We'll see. But the changeup is going to help him. I'm very encouraged."

The game
The Phillies lost, 4-2, to the Twins.

The Phils had 10 hits, two by Odubel Herrera, who homered.

Andrew Knapp, pushing to make the club, started behind the plate and had a double.

The Phillies were just 1 for 8 with runners in scoring position and left nine men on base.

The Phils' bullpen -- Sean Burnett, Edubray Ramos and Hector Neris -- accounted for 3 1/3 innings of scoreless ball.

Up next
The Phils play the Yankees in Tampa on Friday. Jeremy Hellickson will start against CC Sabathia.

Larry Bowa, Charlie Manuel reflect on special bond with Dallas Green

Larry Bowa, Charlie Manuel reflect on special bond with Dallas Green

CLEARWATER, Fla. -- An impromptu homage to Dallas Green broke out on the field at the Phillies' spring training home Thursday morning.

Larry Bowa, who played for Green on the 1980 World Series championship team, was there.

So was Charlie Manuel, the only other manager other than Green to lead a Phillies team to a World Series title.

They told tales of Green's tough exterior and warm heart.

Bowa even shed a tear.

A couple of hours later, there were a few more tears in the stands as the team honored Green with a moment of silence the day after he died at 82.

Green's old jersey, No. 46, hung in the dugout for the Phillies-Twins game.

"It was tough last night," Bowa said. "I just couldn't believe it. This guy meant the world to us. We don't win a World Series without Dallas. It doesn't matter if we've got 10 Pete Roses, we don't win a World Series without Dallas. 

"He taught me a lot about being mentally tough and giving everything you have, every pitch, nine innings. Never quit. He was a guy that told our team, 'Look in the mirror. You're not as good as you think you are.' He said, 'Anybody can win divisions, go win a World Series. Put a ring on somebody's finger.'"

The Phillies had great talent in the late 1970s but always came one step short of the World Series. Green came in late in the 1979 season and was a stun gun to a complacent team. A year later, they were World Series champions.

"He said, 'I don't care what you did yesterday. What can you do today to help the Phillies win?' He got everybody's attention," Bowa said. "Yeah, we had a lot of give and take, screaming. I think everybody respected him. That's the bottom line. Eventually, when you get done playing, you realize how important he was to the Phillies in 1980."

Bowa was a critic of Green's in the lead up to the World Series. He recalled the give and take with the manager, which wasn't always sugar and spice and everything nice.

After one particularly poor game, Green left his office door open as he spoke with reporters. During the interview session, Green loudly questioned the team's desire and said the group was not as good as it thought it was. The players in the clubhouse heard it all because Green wanted them to -- and, of course, because his voice naturally boomed.

After Green's session with the media that night, a reporter approached Bowa and asked if he'd heard Green's loud commentary.

Of course, Bowa had heard it.

And he was fired up.

"Go ask Dallas how many games he won in the big leagues," Bowa told the writer, poking at Green's modest 20-22 record as a big-league pitcher.

When the writer informed Green of Bowa's barb, Green responded with a loud, "Touche, Bo. Touche."

"He wanted you to hear things," Bowa said.

That was one of his ways of challenging people. And he really liked to challenge players. It was his way of inspiring and separating the weak from the strong.

Manuel compared that to one of his former managers, Billy Martin.

"He was like a Billy Martin kind of guy," Manuel said. "He'll tell you what he expects out of you, but at the same time, he'll tell you that you can't do something. That's a big challenge to you. When you show him that you can do it, that's when he's on your side and he thinks the world of you. That's the time you become his guy."

Manuel became Green's guy after the two had a public spat in 2006. In a radio interview, Green, then a member of the team's front office, had criticized the way Manuel's Phillies were playing. In particular, he said the team lacked fundamentals. Manuel was furious that a member of the front office would criticize him publicly. A month or so later, as the Phillies rallied themselves into wild-card contention, Manuel and Green came face to face on the field before a game at Citizens Bank Park.

Manuel unloaded on Green.

And Green took his medicine.

From that confrontation, respect and understanding grew. Manuel and Green became great friends and frequent dinner partners. A few years later, Green admitted to a reporter that he was wrong for scuffing Manuel and he thanked Manuel for showing him that there are other ways to run a team than just the way he did it.

"I showed him," Manuel said. "When I look back, maybe he was testing me. But I understood him and I think at the end he felt he understood me."

On the night the Phillies won the World Series in 2008, Manuel and Green, members of an elite, two-man club, sat in Manuel's office and reflected.

"He was very happy," Manuel said. "Him and I had a few drinks of VO. I think I outdrank him, really. But, of course, when he won back in 1980 he would have outdrank me.

"Everything about it was good. He was just as happy as I was and I can't tell you how happy I was.

"He was always around and he definitely pulled for the Phillies day in and day out.

"Baseball's going to miss Dallas Green.

"I'm going to miss him."