Hamels' CG gives Phillies win, Manuel milestone

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Hamels' CG gives Phillies win, Manuel milestone

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ATLANTA -- Give Cole Hamels credit for being honest.

The left-hander pitched his first complete game of the season Monday night in beating the Atlanta Braves, 5-1, at Turner Field. The victory snapped an 11-game road losing streak for the Phillies (see Instant Replay).

It was also Charlie Manuel’s 1,000th win as a big-league skipper.

Afterward, Hamels was asked if it meant anything to him to be on the hill for his manager’s milestone win.

“I totally forgot,” the left-hander admitted.

Manuel’s pursuit of 1,000 had been buried under the rubble of the 17 losses that the Phillies had suffered in the 20 games leading up to Monday night.

“Truly, I think it hasn’t been talked about much because we haven’t been playing well, so we’ve been really just focusing on trying to win a game,” Hamels said.

A game. Any game.

“But it’s a tremendous accomplishment,” Hamels said. “It’s a huge milestone. It’s nice Charlie got that out of the way. Now we need to focus on winning two.”

After the game, the Phillies presented Manuel with a signed base emblazoned with “1,000” in red, Phillies-style numerals.

“It’s definitely quite an achievement,” Manuel said. “Like I told my players, they’re the ones that make it happen. They play. The two organizations I’ve been with, they’re the ones that get the players for me. That just goes to show you just how good they are. It’s hard for me to stand there and say I accept all of my accolades because the other people are definitely achieving those for you. That’s kind of how I look at it. I’m sure later on it probably means a lot more to me than right now. We’re still trying to win some games.”

Hamels has been the winning pitcher in 96 of Manuel’s wins.

Alerted to that fact, Manuel quipped, “That’s good. I’ll go back and thank him again.”

Having fallen out of the race in the NL East, the Phillies have to take satisfaction where they can find it.

Monday night, it came in the form of rookie Cody Asche’s three-run homer in the sixth, some strong defense in the field, and, of course, Hamels’ work on the mound.

The two teams waited through a one-hour, 48-minute rain delay before the first pitch. Once the game got going, Hamels started dealing. He allowed just six hits -- two came in the ninth inning when he lost his shutout on his 120th pitch -- walked one and struck out nine.

Despite a 5-13 record, Hamels has pitched very well of late. Since the start of June, he has a 1.98 ERA in eight starts.

Hamels has recently talked about trying to have more fun on the mound and stop worrying about forces beyond his control -- like run support. He actually helped his own cause in this game. He tripled in the third inning and scored on Jimmy Rollins’ single.

Hamels said this was probably his most enjoyable outing to the season.

“Just being able to go out and not let the little things get to you,” he said. “I stuck with my routine during the rain delay. I was able to execute pitches. When you execute pitches against good hitters, I’d say, what, eight out of 10 times, nine out of 10 times, the pitcher wins. I’m glad I was able to win because they’re a tremendous team.”

Indeed, the Braves are. They have lost just four times in the last 21 games and are running away with the NL East.

Hamels lost his bid for a shutout with two outs in the ninth. He was at 109 pitches after eight innings, but made it clear that he wanted to stay in when he grabbed his bat and helmet and got ready to hit in the ninth.

Hamels said he wasn’t disappointed to miss out on the shutout. He was just happy that the team won a game.

Any game.

These are dispiriting times for the Phillies. They still have 44 games left. They need to play better than they have in recent weeks or the remainder of the season will be misery.

“I know we haven’t done it much, but we’ve got to start something,” Hamels said. “The pride that we all have, it has to be for something. There aren’t too many opportunities to play the game of baseball. It’s winding down and we better finish strong because there’s a lot of baseball in the future for a lot of guys and there’s not a lot of baseball for some guys.

“So, it’s how do you want to go out? How do you want to be remembered? It’s more fun going out as a team and ultimately trying to finish strong.”

Phillies 7, Orioles 5: Brock Stassi continues to make a difference

Phillies 7, Orioles 5: Brock Stassi continues to make a difference

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CLEARWATER, Fla. -- The Baltimore Orioles led the majors with 253 home runs last season.

The Phillies ranked 24th with 161.

On Tuesday, however, the Phillies out-homered the O's en route to a 7-5 victory. The Phils hit four homers, the Orioles one.

Reality check: The Orioles brought a watered-down lineup to Clearwater. No Mark Trumbo (a majors-leading 47 homers last season), no Chris Davis (38), no Manny Machado (37).

Nonetheless, Phillies manager Pete Mackanin was pleased with the power his team showed. Tommy Joseph bombed a homer off the tiki bar beyond the left field wall. Aaron Altherr crushed one out to left. And non-roster players Scott Kingery (more here) and Brock Stassi both homered.

Of course, Stassi homered.

All he has done in the first week of games is get big hits. He's played in four games and has two homers and a double. His three-run homer in the bottom of the eighth inning came with the Phillies down two runs and gave them the lead. The home run came on a 2-0 pitch from Cody Sedlock. The 21-year-old righty was the Orioles' first-round pick (No. 27 overall) out of the University of Illinois last year. He looked a little overwhelmed as he allowed five hits, including two homers, and four runs in losing the lead.

Stassi was the Phillies' 33rd-round draft pick in 2011. He is 27 years old and bidding to win a spot on the roster as a backup first baseman/outfielder.

"He's caught my eye," said Mackanin, who seems to say something good about Stassi every day.

After Tuesday's game, Stassi recalled how he lost 30 percent of his signing bonus the same day he received the check in 2011.

"But my signing bonus was just $1,000," he said, laughing.

All these years later, he's putting himself in a position to hit the dream-come-true jackpot that would come with making the Phillies' opening day roster.

"Today was a good day," he said. "Put it behind me and come back tomorrow."

On the mound
Clay Buchholz made his spring debut with two scoreless innings. He gave up two hits and a walk.

With five weeks to go before his first start of the regular season, Buchholz tried to pace himself. There's plenty of time to let it loose.

"You hear the slogan saving bullets and I think that's a big thing," said Buchholz, 32. "If you go out max effort before your body is ready to do that, that's when injuries happen."

Herrera excused
Obudel Herrera missed Tuesday game's because he needed to travel to New Orleans to complete some paperwork for the upcoming World Baseball Classic. He will return Wednesday.

Herrera will play left field for Team Venezuela. Mackanin said he may get Herrera some work at the position before the player departs for the WBC next week.

The Phillies play the Rays in Port Charlotte on Wednesday. Vince Velasquez will make his first start of the spring. Here is the Phillies' posted starting lineup:

Cesar Hernandez, 2B
Chris Coghlan, LF
Andres Blanco, 3B
Tommy Joseph, 1B
Daniel Nava, DH
Andrew Knapp, C
J.P. Crawford, SS
Roman Quinn, CF
Aaron Altherr, RF

2B prospect Scott Kingery 'might be on fast track to big leagues'

2B prospect Scott Kingery 'might be on fast track to big leagues'

CLEARWATER, Fla. -- The Phillies' Double A Reading club had 89 wins last season, the second most in all of minor-league baseball.

With Roman Quinn, Jorge Alfaro, Rhys Hoskins, Dylan Cozens and others, the Reading club was loaded with top prospects.

That's why it was so remarkable late last season when a Phillies' official said, "You know, there are nights when Scott Kingery is the best player on the field."

Kingery, a second baseman who turns 23 in April, was the Phillies' second-round pick in the 2015 draft, a former walk-on at the University of Arizona who blossomed into a Pac-12 batting champ (.392) his junior year.

Kingery, 5-10 and 180 pounds of pure ballplayer, was so impressive his first two seasons in the Phillies' minor-league system that he earned an invite to big-league camp this spring.

He is making the most of it.

He had a huge game in the Phillies' 7-5 win over the Baltimore Orioles on Tuesday. He singled, doubled and homered in four at-bats. He also made a couple of nice plays in the field, including a backpedaling, over-the-shoulder grab in shallow right field to end the top of the eighth inning.

The Phillies rallied for four runs to come back from two runs down in the bottom of that inning. Of course, spring star Brock Stassi had the big hit, a three-run homer to put the Phillies ahead.

Stassi, who has two homers and a double in the four games in which he has played, is a serious candidate to win a spot on the Phillies' bench.

Kingery -- who has just 37 games and 156 at-bats of experience above the Single A level -- is not a candidate to break with the big club. But manager Pete Mackanin thinks he might not be that far away.

"I heard a lot about Scott Kingery and how good a player he is and he sure looks like one," Mackanin said after Tuesday's game. "He's made a good impression on me and the coaching staff. Today was a good example of what he can do. He might be on the fast track to the big leagues."

Kingery is a pretty levelheaded kid. As happy as he was with his game Tuesday, he was quite realistic. He needs more seasoning. The blueprint calls for him to open back at Double A and build on the six weeks he spent there last year.

"I feel I need to spend some more time in Double A," Kingery said. "I didn't get much time there last year. I think that's what I'll head back to and just try to figure out that pitching and climb up the ladder from there."

Jesmuel Valentin is expected to open the season as the second baseman at Triple A Lehigh Valley. He is a prospect, as well. He has been slowed in this camp by a sore shoulder.

The Phillies' depth at second base will put some heat on Cesar Hernandez to continue the improvement he showed in the second half of last season. It could also eventually turn Hernandez into a trade chip. According to multiple baseball sources, the Phillies were willing to listen on Hernandez this offseason, though the price was very high.