Galvis flashes versatility in Phillies' victory

slideshow-phillies-freddy-galvis-uspresswire.jpg

Galvis flashes versatility in Phillies' victory

BOX SCORE

Interim manager Ryne Sandberg has made it clear that he intends on giving the Phillies’ up-and-comers a chance to show what they can do.

Lately, Sandberg has been rewarded for his faith in the kids.

In the 4-2 victory over the San Diego Padres on Wednesday night, it was Freddy Galvis’ turn to deliver for Sandberg and the Phillies as they won their fourth game out of the last five (see Instant Replay).

Galvis went 3 for 3 with a solo homer, a double and he scored a pair of runs. Playing second base in order to give Chase Utley the night off against left-handed pitcher Eric Stults, Galvis also added a pair of RBIs. One came on home run in the fifth to get the Phillies on the board and the other RBI came on a safety squeeze in the eighth to give an insurance run to starter Cliff Lee and closer Jonathan Papelbon.

That’s versatility. Actually, the approach at the plate when Sandberg put on the squeeze play required much more focus than the swing Galvis put on his homer.

“Yeah, I think it’s a little tough sometimes,” Galvis said. “You try to think too much when you have something like that. You try to put the ball in play. I got a good pitch right in the middle and thank God it worked out.”

Though the numbers don’t pop off the stat page, Galvis has worked out in a lot of different ways for the Phillies this season. Signed and developed as a shortstop out of Venezuela, Galvis has played second and third base and left field for the Phillies. And after playing 580 of his 586 minor-league games as a shortstop, Galvis was the 2012 Opening Day second baseman with just 16 of his 112 big-league games at his natural position.

Perhaps if Galvis is going to make it in the big leagues, it’s going to be as a do-it-all utility type of player. It helps that Galvis is a switch-hitter at the plate, too.

“That’s his game -- situational guy,” Sandberg said. “He handles the bat. Good hit-and-run guy. A safety squeeze right there. He battled the pitcher good on outside soft stuff. He’s a thinking guy at home plate. He’s thinking with the pitcher. He got an inside fastball and turned on that with the short stroke for the home run. Those are the type of things Freddy can do.”

Galvis’ homer tied the game at 1-1 in the fifth. He also led off the seventh with a double down the left-field line and came around to score the go-ahead run after the Phillies manufactured some offense.

With no outs and two on in the seventh, Sandberg kept Lee in to drop a sacrifice bunt in a situation that typically calls for a pinch hitter. But with the Phils’ lefty cruising with a four-hitter through seven innings with eight strikeouts and 89 pitches, Sandberg wanted to get at least one more inning from Lee.

The successful bunt made it look like a smart move.

“I was glad Ryno let me stay in there to do that,” said Lee, who improved to 13-6 after going eight innings for the fourth time in the last six starts. “That was big. A lot of times you get pinch-hit for right there. I was glad he had enough faith in me to get the bunt down and execute, then go back out there in the eighth to put a zero up. That was good. I enjoyed that.”

Lee’s bunt set the table for Cesar Hernandez to ward off a fourth straight strikeout and drive home the go-ahead run with a soft ground out. An inning later, after Carlos Ruiz led off the eighth with a single and Darin Ruf walked before a ground out put runners at the corners, Galvis dropped the safety squeeze for the important insurance run.

A homer from the right side of the plate and a squeeze bunt from the left -- yes, that’s versatility.

“He was an excellent bunter in both directions,” Sandberg said. “He handled the bat from both sides. That's his game.”

The Phillies will try to take the series from the Padres on Thursday night when Roy Halladay (3-4, 7.19) pitches against right-hander Tyler Ross (3-7, 2.79).

Tonight's lineup: Ryan Howard batting cleanup, Cameron Rupp catching

Tonight's lineup: Ryan Howard batting cleanup, Cameron Rupp catching

Following a day off, the Phillies continue their roadtrip with the start of a three-game set with the New York Mets.

Ryan Howard will bat in the heart of the Phillies order with Cameron Rupp at catcher following the trade of Carlos Ruiz to the Dodgers. Meanwhile, the rest of the lineup remains mostly the same as it was prior to a brief two-game series with American League rules.

With Ruiz's trade, Howard is the last remaining member of the Phillies' 2008 World Series team. He'll try to throw back to that time against the ageless Bartolo Colon. 

Howard has good power numbers against Colon. He has just six hits in 28 at-bats, but has drawn three walks and has three home runs against the 43-year-old starter. There are only 18 pitchers he has faced more often than Colon.

At catcher, Rupp had already inherited the starting job from Ruiz, but he is now the backstop with more experience in Philadelphia. The Phillies called up prospect Jorge Alfaro for now, but he will likely remain on the bench and be sent down when A.J. Ellis reports this weekend. 

Rupp has five hits in 14 at-bats against Colon. He has faced only the Braves' Julio Teheran more times than Colon in his four-year career. The five hits are tied for his most against any one pitcher (Teheran).

Here's the full lineup that will oppose Colon and the Mets. 

1. Cesar Hernandez, 2B
2. Aaron Altherr, LF
3. Maikel Franco, 3B
4. Ryan Howard, 1B
5. Cameron Rupp, C
6. Odubel Herrera, CF
7. Freddy Galvis, SS
8. Peter Bourjos, RF
9. Adam Morgan, P

Phillies-Mets 5 things: Another chance to solve the ageless Bartolo Colon

Phillies-Mets 5 things: Another chance to solve the ageless Bartolo Colon

Phillies (59-68) at Mets (64-63)
7:10 p.m. on CSN

On Day 1 of the post-Carlos Ruiz Era, the Phillies are at Citi Field to begin a three-game series with the Mets. 

Let's take a look:

1. Quick audition for Alfaro
Jorge Alfaro will reportedly be called up by the Phillies in time for Friday's game against the Mets. He might not be up long, though, as catcher A.J. Ellis is expected to join the Phils this weekend.

Phillies GM Matt Klentak spoke Thursday night about the importance of receiving Ellis from the Dodgers in the Ruiz trade. Like Chooch, Ellis is known for his game-calling ability. With Cameron Rupp being more of an offensive-minded catcher, the need still exists for a vet like Ellis.

Alfaro is regarded as the top catching prospect in baseball by MLB.com, and he will likely be called up again in mid-September, but for now the promotion seems more need-based than anything else. The Phillies need a backup catcher until Ellis arrives and Alfaro was the only catcher other than Rupp on the 40-man roster. The move made sense.

2. Yet another meeting with Colon
The Phillies face 43-year-old right-hander Bartolo Colon for the fourth time this season and 13th time since he joined the Mets in 2014. 

Colon (11-7, 3.36) has lost fastball velocity each season since 2011. His heater averaged 91.7 mph that season and is all the way down to 87.7 this year. But he remains effective because he commands that fastball as well as any pitcher in baseball. Colon throws one of his two fastballs a whopping 89 percent of time. His pitch distribution this season has been 65 percent two-seamers, 24 percent four-seamers, seven percent sliders and four percent changeups.

The Phillies just haven't been able to solve Colon the last several years. In his starts against them as a Met, Colon is 8-3 with a 2.78 ERA and 1.12 WHIP. Nine of the 12 were quality starts.

Colon has a 2.25 ERA in four August starts, but he's been hittable. His opponents have hit .320 this month, but Colon has beared down with men on base.

Current Phillies have hit .229 against him with four home runs, three of which belong to Ryan Howard.

3. Morgan looks to build momentum
Adam Morgan has had a rough time in the majors in 2016, going 1-7 with a 6.21 ERA, but he's coming off his best start since early May. He allowed one run in six innings vs. the Cardinals last Friday. It was his first time pitching six innings in his last seven starts.

Morgan has faced the Mets just once, last season. He allowed five runs and 11 baserunners in 3⅔ innings.

Morgan has shown he's better than his opponents at Triple A, but in the majors he's had a lot of trouble retiring righties. They've hit .300 with 67 extra-base hits and an .887 OPS in 533 plate appearances. He's essentially made all right-handed hitters look like last year's version of Nolan Arenado.

4. Power at first
The Phillies' first base production has increased since the All-Star break as Howard has gotten hot. But Tommy Joseph continues to hit for power when given the opportunity to play, hitting his 17th homer Wednesday night in Chicago.

Since 2000, only seven players have more homers than Joseph in their first 75 games: Jose Abreu, Ryan Braun, Adam Dunn, George Springer, Albert Pujols, Trevor Story and Wilin Rosario. 

The Phillies lead the majors with 33 home runs from their first basemen. (Howard and Joseph have a combined 36, but three of them came when one was either pinch-hitting or DH'ing.)

Howard, by the way, is up to .199. A 1-for-3 game would get him above the Mendoza line for the first time since April 30.

5. This and that
• Setup man Hector Neris leads the majors with 64 appearances, but he's only getting better as the season progresses. In his last 18⅓ innings, he's allowed one run (0.49 ERA) and 11 baserunners (0.60 WHIP). He's struck out 26 and walked two.

• The Mets are third in the National League with 165 home runs but 13th in runs. It's a boom-bust offense that has gone bust far too often this season. The Mets rank 29th in team batting average (.241) and 27th in on-base percentage (.309).

• Yoenis Cespedes returned last Friday from a quad injury and has hit since, going 8 for 25 with three homers and two doubles.

• Travis d'Arnaud has always been a highly regarded catcher, and he's healthy now, but he's missed so much time over the last few years that the Mets can't be certain he's their catcher of the future. The 27-year-old was traded by the Phillies to the Blue Jays in December 2009 in the Roy Halladay deal and then shipped to the Mets three years later with Noah Syndergaard for R.A. Dickey. D'Arnaud showed flashes last season, when he hit .268/.340/.485, but he averaged 88 games in 2014-15 and has played in just 54 this season.

Phillies call up catching prospect Jorge Alfaro; likely for short stay

Phillies call up catching prospect Jorge Alfaro; likely for short stay

Prized catching prospect Jorge Alfaro is coming to the Phillies. But likely not for long.

Alfaro on Friday was promoted from Double A Reading to the majors, joining the Phillies in New York for their series against the Mets at Citi Field.

Alfaro, already on the Phillies' 40-man roster, is not expected to stick. He gets the call-up with the Phillies' trade of Carlos Ruiz on Thursday night. Veteran catcher A.J. Ellis, a part of the Ruiz deal, is not yet with the Phillies but is expected to join them this weekend.

Alfaro is a strong candidate to be called up again in mid-September once Reading is finished with the Eastern League playoffs, as explained in this week's Future Phillies Report.

The 23-year-old Alfaro was acquired by the Phillies from the Rangers in last summer's Cole Hamels trade. He's ranked as baseball's top catching prospect by MLBPipeline.com with Gary Sanchez having graduated to the Yankees.

Known for his power potential and big throwing arm, Alfaro has hit .279/.321/.442 with 13 home runs and 61 RBIs. He's thrown out 31 of 70 would-be base stealers, 44 percent.

CSNPhilly.com's Corey Seidman contributed to this post.