Instant Replay: Diamondbacks 2, Phillies 1

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Instant Replay: Diamondbacks 2, Phillies 1

BOX SCORE

PHOENIX – The Phillies mustered just six hits in absorbing a 2-1 loss to the Arizona Diamondbacks on Thursday night.

Cole Hamels took the loss to fall to 1-5.

Phillies pitching walked eight batters, one intentionally.

The Phillies are just 1-7 in Hamels’ eight starts. They are 16-20 on the season.

Starting pitching report
Command issues plagued Hamels as he walked five, one intentionally, in six innings. He also allowed six hits, including three doubles. Despite all those baserunners, Hamels held Arizona to two runs.

Hamels has walked 22 batters in 51 2/3 innings.

Arizona lefty Patrick Corbin (5-0) continued his excellent start by holding the Phils to a run in 6 1/3 innings. He allowed just four hits, walked two and struck out four. Corbin has gone at least six innings in all seven of his starts and held the opposition to two or fewer runs each time.

Bullpen report
Phillippe Aumont and Jeremy Horst combined on an adventurous seventh inning. Aumont allowed a hit and a walk and Horst allowed a four-pitch walk and would have walked in a run hadn’t Martin Prado swung at a 3-1 pitch over his head. Prado ended up popping out as the D’backs left the bases loaded in a one-run game.

Arizona right-hander David Hernandez pitched a perfect eighth with an assist from second baseman Cliff Pennington, who took away a hit from Ryan Howard while playing the shift toward the foul line in shallow right field.

Heath Bell had the save for Arizona.

At the plate
Domonic Brown doubled with one out in the top of the ninth and died on second as the Phils went 1 for 8 with runners in scoring position.

Trailing 2-0 in the seventh, the Phillies had bases loaded and one out for pinch-hitter Kevin Frandsen. He appeared to drop a soft liner into right field for an RBI single, but John Mayberry Jr., holding close to first in case the ball was caught by the second baseman, got a late jump to second and was forced out by rightfielder Gerardo Parra. One run scored on what was ruled a fielder’s choice. In the end, it was a missed chance for the Phillies who would have had the bases loaded and one out with a run in if Mayberry hadn’t been nailed at second.

Jimmy Rollins was 0 for 2 with runners in scoring position. He is 5 for 33 in those situations this season.

Ryan Howard was 0 for 3 with two strikeouts against the lefty Corbin. He is 6 for 34 (.176) with 16 Ks against lefties this season.

The Diamondbacks were 0 for 12 with runners in scoring position. They scored both of their runs on groundouts, one of which was a nifty drag bunt by Gerardo Parra.

In the field
Hamels bobbled a potential double-play ball and had to settle for an out at first with two men on in the fifth. The left-hander was visibly frustrated after the play, which set up a second-and-third situation with Corbin, the opposing pitcher, up and one out. The Phillies started off the at-bat with the infield in then backed it up. It was a pivotal decision because Corbin then hit a run-scoring ground ball to Rollins. Had Rollins been up, the run would not have scored. Hamels was visibly frustrated after that play, too.

Health check
Roy Halladay will have surgery Wednesday (see story).

Milestone
The game was Charlie Manuel’s 1,332nd as Phillies skipper, moving him past Gene Mauch for the most in franchise history.

Up next
Tyler Cloyd makes his season debut against Arizona right-hander Ian Kennedy (1-3, 5.19) on Friday night.

Maikel Franco day to day with sore wrist

Maikel Franco day to day with sore wrist

PITTSBURGH -- Phillies third baseman Maikel Franco, who was hit on the left wrist by a pitch on Friday night, is not in the starting lineup for Saturday’s game against the Pittsburgh Pirates (see lineup).

Franco was hit by a pitch from the Pirates’ Gerrit Cole in the first inning of the Phillies’ 4-0 victory then was removed after hitting a single in the third inning (see story).

“He’s still sore,” Phillies manager Pete Mackanin said Saturday. “He’s day to day. Maybe he will be back in the lineup (Sunday).

Franco suffered a fracture of the same wrist last August when he was hit by a pitch.

Andres Blanco is taking Franco’s place in the lineup after having two hits Friday night when he replaced the third baseman. Blanco is hitting .264 with three home runs in 73 games this season and is reportedly drawing some interest from contending teams looking to add bench help.

“I could see why he would be a desirable player,” Mackanin said. “We’re not going to give him away, though, if we do trade him. He’s played very well for us.”

Today's Lineup: Andres Blanco in, Maikel Franco out after HBP last night

Today's Lineup: Andres Blanco in, Maikel Franco out after HBP last night

After being hit on the wrist by a pitch in Friday's win (see story), Maikel Franco will not play today. Instead, Andres Blanco will take his place, hitting third in the lineup. Blanco was 2 for 2 replacing Franco in the third inning on Friday, with an RBI and a run scored. 

Blanco has been reliable when called upon this season, hitting .264 with a .317 OBP in mostly a utility role.

Other than that, the lineup remains the same as Friday.

Peter Bourjos will leadoff after going 0 for 5 last night, followed by Odubel Herrara. After an All-Star first half, Herrara has hit .211 in July, but seemed to get back on track with three hits on Friday, while scoring two runs. 

After a brutal stretch of games and an extended All-Star break, Aaron Nola returned to form vs. the Marlins last week, tossing six shutout innings. Nola again looks to prove the doubters wrong again today vs. the Pirates, who he has never faced in his brief career. 

Here is tonight's lineup:

1. Peter Bourjos RF
2. Odubel Herrera CF
3. Andres Blanco 3B
4. Tommy Joseph 1B
5. Cameron Rupp C
6. Cody Asche LF
7. Freddy Galvis SS
8. Cesar Hernandez 2B
9. Aaron Nola P

 

Phillies-Pirates 5 things: Star Andrew McCutchen struggling in 2016

Phillies-Pirates 5 things: Star Andrew McCutchen struggling in 2016

Phillies (45-53) vs. Pirates (49-47)
4:05 p.m. on CSN

After Zach Eflin threw his second complete game of his young career on Friday (see game story), Aaron Nola will look to follow it up with a strong start of his own. Opposing him will be the Pirates' top prospect, Tyler Glasnow, in a mid-afternoon matchup with the Phillies

Here's what you should look out for on Saturday.

1. McCutchen in a down season
There is no doubt who is the face of the Pirates' franchise right now. It's Andrew McCutchen.

The 29-year-old outfielder is a five-time All Star, four-time Silver Slugger, the 2013 National League MVP, and led the team that broke a 21-year playoff drought. He's one of the most marketable athletes in baseball right now and the type of player any team would want to build around.

But is he on the decline?

It's a legitimate question to ask. From 2012-2014, McCutchen was arguably the top position player in the National League, posting an average of at least .314, an on-base percentage of at least .400 and a slugging percentage of at least .911 each year.

But 2015 and 2016 have been different. He still hit 23 home runs in 2015 (his peak was 31 in 2012), but his stolen bases went down to 11, a career low, and he posted his lowest average, OBP and slugging percentages since 2011. He was still well above league average of course and the heart of the Pirates' lineup.

Yet 2016 has been possibly his worst yet. He is batting .244/.316/.408 and has an OPS+ of 93, seven worse than league average. He's already struck out 100 times in just 90 games after 133 strikeouts in 157 games last year. He has stolen just three bases and has been caught five times.

Quite simply, the numbers are troubling. He'll need to be a completely different player in the second half, starting very soon, to match his numbers from the past.

2. No runs Nola?
Nola's last start was a long time coming.

After a June in which nothing seemed to work for the righty, he finally seemed to figure things out after a 16-day layoff. He shut down the Marlins for six innings. He allowed just three base runners and no runs, striking out five.

Nola looked better than even his numbers indicate. He was cruising through five innings, having faced the minimum, but had to leave after six after taking a line drive off his throwing shoulder. Nothing to worry, as his exit was merely precautionary.

When the 23-year-old starter is on his game, it's thanks to a dynamite curveball that can produce swings and misses at a high rate. For all the talk of his opponent on Monday (Jose Fernandez), Nola's curve is one of the best in baseball and he used it to strike out five Marlins hitters. 

Where does he go from here? Well, it's tough to expect another shutout-type start, but Nola could be well-suited to face a righty-laden lineup like the Pirates. To truly shake off his bad June and worries about that liner to the arm, a second straight strong start would stave off any doubters.

3. Scouting Glasnow
Glasnow was the No. 10 prospect in all of baseball going into this year, according to MLB.com, so expectations are high for the 22-year-old making his second career start.

His MLB debut wasn't much to write home about. The 6-foot-8 righty took a loss while allowing four runs in 5 1/3 innings. He did strike out five St. Louis Cardinals in that start two weeks ago and two of the runs were let in by a reliever. He did surrender a home run, however.

So what does Glasnow offer in his repertoire that got him such a high prospect rating? Well, a mid-to-upper 90s fastball for one. His four-seamer is his calling card, already displaying an ability to blow hitters away with big league-esque stuff. 

Off-speed, he goes to a curveball and a changeup. Scouts believe his curve will be the better pitch in the long term, but he hasn't mastered either quite yet.

What Glasnow needs to live up to his billing as a top talent is command. It's unsurprising that a pitcher that tall would struggle with command early in his career, as many pitchers like Randy Johnson, Dellin Betances or others have done so as well. 

However, there are plenty of cautionary tales of tall pitchers who never quite figured out all the parts of their motion and couldn't cut it in the majors. Glasnow gets his second chance to stick in the MLB after a couple weeks in the minors. 

4. Players to watch
Phillies: Odubel Herrera isn't hitting .300 like he was to start the year, but his 3 for 5 night on Friday propelled the Phils to a much-needed victory. Can he keep up the same momentum against a rookie like Glasnow?

Pirates: Starling Marte this year has been, well, a star. His .311 batting average leads the Pirates and his .459 slugging percentage has made him an active part in the Buccos' middle of the order.

5. This and that
• Nola is much better away from Citzens Bank Park. He is 2-6 and allows an opposing OPS of .771 at home while he is 3-2 and allows just a .607 OPS on the road. He's allowed nine home runs at CBP as opposed to just one on the road, in an equal number of starts.

• Neither Nola nor Glasnow have faced the opposing team before Saturday.

• McCutchen hits the Phillies well historically. He has a .301/.371/5.14 triple slash against the Phillies to go with seven home runs and 10 doubles. 

• In 107 at-bats over 32 games at PNC Park, Ryan Howard is batting just .187 with just three extra base hits (two home runs and a double).