Manuel on offense: 'I don't know what I can do'

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Manuel on offense: 'I don't know what I can do'

Charlie Manuel is so mad about his offense, he's ready to knock somebody out.

The Phillies had all eight of their projected starters in the lineup for just the sixth time this season, and even though they spotted Cole Hamels an early 3-0 lead Friday, they failed to score again after the second inning and left 10 men on base in a 4-3 home loss to the Mets (see game recap).

From the third inning on, the Phillies put eight men on base but had nothing to show for it. Chase Utley, in his return from the disabled list (see story), twice came up with two outs and men in scoring position but couldn't bring anyone home.

"I thought Utley hit tonight with some guys on base, but at the same time, the first ball he hit to first base and the line drive he hit to center field was hit hard," Manuel said. "He'll be fine."

But, reporter Howard Eskin asked, is the rest of the lineup going to be fine?

"Stop thinking about that -- 'Is the rest of the lineup gonna be fine?'" Manuel retorted. "Do I know if the rest of the lineup is gonna be fine? If I knew that, don't you think I'd do something about it?

"Does anybody else know that Howard? Do you know it? I don't think so. I know you don't as a matter of fact. Who does know it?"

"But the point is," Eskin interjected, "is there anything left to do if the rest of the lineup..."

And that seemed to put Manuel over the edge.

"I don't know what I can do," Manuel said, loudly and clearly, without a bit of hesitation. "If we don't hit and score runs, I don't know what we can do. I don't know what nobody else can do about it and I know you can't do a damn thing about it.

"So what else you wanna know? Anything else?"

And it almost ended there, but Eskin had one last question, and Manuel, walking away, had one final response.

"When you gonna score 10 runs?"

"When I knock you out," Manuel said. "That's when."

Clearly, the manager lost his cool on a night when his team failed to eclipse the three-run mark for the 40th time in 74 games this season. The Phillies are 9-31 in those games; they're 26-8 when they score four runs or more.

The Phillies are averaging just 3.68 runs per game this year -- down from an average of 4.22 per game last season. That number drops to 2.93 when Cole Hamels, who suffered his 11th loss Friday, takes the mound.

Hamels maintains he doesn't think about it.

"I never have," Hamels said. "I've been really good at moving on from year to year about not paying attention or really focusing on the past, even game to game.

"Today was a game that I feel like we could've seized and it was a good opportunity, and I wasn't able to take care of what I needed to take care of."

One of the main problems with the Phillies' offense is that it just hasn't been clicking on all cylinders at the same time. When one guy is hot, the rest of the lineup is in a funk. Domonic Brown, the National League's Player of the Month for May, is batting .175 in his last 11 games, and that's including his 2-for-3 performance Friday. Ben Revere, meanwhile, has an 11-game hitting streak going and his average is .417 over that span.

The bats produced 10 hits and two walks on Friday but put up just three runs to show for it. On the year, the Phillies entered the game eighth in the league in average but 12th in runs per game.

Utley's return can only help, as Phillies second basemen hit below .200 in his absence. And although Utley went 0 for 5 on Friday night, he did get good wood on two balls, as his manager pointed out.

"Obviously, I had an opportunity to drive in some runs -- I wasn't able to do that," Utley said. "But the overall picture, I felt good. I feel like I can contribute, and we'll move on tomorrow."

So Utley, like his manager, insists he'll be fine. But how about the rest of the offense?

Clay Buchholz optimistic he can still pitch in 2017 after surgery

Clay Buchholz optimistic he can still pitch in 2017 after surgery

Pitcher Clay Buchholz made his first appearance in the Phillies' clubhouse Wednesday since having surgery to repair a torn flexor tendon in his right forearm last week.  

Many initially believed Buchholz would be out for the remainder of the season -- and he still might be -- but he expressed optimism and believes he can return to the mound in September.

"My goal right now is to let this heal," Buchholz said. "Get it well and if this team keeps playing like they're playing right now, we'll be playing in September, October, so that's my goal."

Buchholz said he wasn't feeling 100 percent leading up to the April 11 game against the New York Mets when manager Pete Mackanin pulled him in the third inning. 

"I told [general manager Matt Klentak] that I was sorry, and the guys in here," Buchholz said. "I was brought here for a reason. I wanted to pitch, I wanted to be good. I guess it's a good thing we have a good farm system here because they've been able to step up and fill in."

Buchholz had a similar issue with the Boston Red Sox in July 2015 and missed the rest of the season. 

In his two starts with the Phillies, Buchholz allowed 10 runs and 19 baserunners over just 7 1/3 innings. 
 
Buchholz, 32, will become a free agent at the end of the season. Given his age and the possibility that he won't return this season, the injury could significantly affect his value heading into the offseason. He's the second-highest paid player on the Phillies' roster at $13.5 million

But Buchholz wants to build the strength in his forearm and continue to pitch in MLB following this season.

"There's a lot of guys that come back," Buchholz said. "I have a lot of buddies that played this game that have come back from major surgeries and played for eight or nine more years. It's all about once I do get healthy, being prepared and building a strong foundation around my muscles."

Tonight's lineup: Aaron Altherr to make 6th straight start

Tonight's lineup: Aaron Altherr to make 6th straight start

Aaron Altherr's audition continues Wednesday night.

The Phillies put out the same lineup on Wednesday as they were going to use on Tuesday before the game was rained out. 

For Altherr, it's his sixth straight start. Howie Kendrick's oblique injury has provided the 26-year-old outfielder another chance to play regularly, and so far, so good for Altherr. He's 9 for 21 with three doubles, a homer, four RBIs and seven runs scored over his last six games.

Altherr is also the Phillies' best defensive outfielder, so if he continues to hit it will be tough for Pete Mackanin to pull him out of the lineup when Kendrick is ready to return. That's where Kendrick's versatility comes into play — he could play first base or second base on any given night, opening up a spot in the corner outfield for Altherr.

1. Cesar Hernandez, 2B
2. Aaron Altherr, LF
3. Odubel Herrera, CF
4. Maikel Franco, 3B
5. Tommy Joseph, 1B
6. Michael Saunders, RF
7. Cameron Rupp, C
8. Freddy Galvis, SS
9. Vince Velasquez, P