Phillies 2, Orioles 2: Mackanin disappointed after losing no-hitter, lead in the 9th

Phillies 2, Orioles 2: Mackanin disappointed after losing no-hitter, lead in the 9th

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SARASOTA, Fla. -- It was just a spring training game. Nonetheless, there was disappointment in Pete Mackanin's voice when it was over.

The Phillies came within two outs of a combined no-hitter against the Baltimore Orioles on Thursday night. The no-hit bid ended when Chris Dickerson singled against reliever Michael Mariot with one out in the bottom of the ninth. Mariot was then unable to hold the Phillies' 2-0 lead. He allowed a two-run homer to the next hitter, Sean Coyle, and the game ended in a 2-2 tie.

The homer was a thrill for Coyle, who grew up in suburban Philadelphia, played at Germantown Academy and was a third-round draft pick of the Boston Red Sox in 2010.

It was not a thrill for Mackanin.

"It's a shame to lose the no-hitter," he said.

Even in spring training?

"A no-hitter is a no-hitter," he said. "It would have been nice to win that game."

Vince Velasquez, Jake Thompson and Colton Murray preceded Mariot.

Ryan Hanigan (RBI single) and Andrew Knapp (solo homer) drove in the Phillies' runs. Knapp has been 1 for 22 on the spring before the homer.
 
Velasquez's learning experience
If you were looking for distilled essence of Velasquez, the hard-throwing right-hander offered it in 3 2/3 innings of work.

His stuff was good enough to strike out six batters over the span.

By his control was so poor, especially in the first inning, that he walked four.

He ended up throwing 76 pitches, 39 strikes and 37 balls -- a terrible ratio.

High pitch counts like this were a nemesis for Velasquez last season, often preventing him from getting through the middle innings and pitching deeper into games. Being more economical with his pitches is a big goal for Velasquez this spring and season.

So it didn't happen for him on Thursday night.

But that doesn't mean the outing was a total loss. Velasquez called it a great learning experience. Though he allowed four base runners -- all on walks -- he did not give up a run. In baseball parlance, he pitched when he had to.

"This was a good, solid outing to learn from," Velasquez said. "Knowing that I was throwing a lot of pitches, I had to throw pitches in certain situations, in key situations. The changeup was working pretty well, helping me out a lot and also setting up my fastball for some of the strikeouts. Everything was pretty much down in the dirt but I had to make adjustments.

"This was pretty much one of the games where I needed to make pitches to get outs, especially bases loaded with a tough team like this. You've got to make the pitches in the heat of the moment."

Velasquez did that in the first inning. He walked three and struck out two in the frame. After the third walk, which loaded the bases, he was at 25 pitches for the inning and 15 were balls. He received a mound visit from pitching coach Bob McClure and proceeded to end the inning with two pitches and a fly ball to left.

"He was just giving me a break, trying to gather me up again," Velasquez said.

"Just the mental thing of calm down, get your composure back and breathe. It's amazing how just one meeting can change the outcome."

Velasquez often tapped his pitching hand against his leg, especially in the first inning when he had control problems. He was asked if he had a problem feeling his hand on a chilly Florida night. That was not the case. He was reminding himself to stay back and over the rubber and not get too aggressive in his delivery.

"I was reminding myself to try to be a little more controlled, be balanced and just let it work," he said.

It was an adjustment that seemed to help Velasquez in the second inning, and his overall takeaway from the night was positive.

"I think I can really take this (outing) and keep this under my hat and apply it later on down the road whenever I hit that bump again because everyone has the ups and downs," Velasquez said. "I had it last year and I've got to do my best to prevent it. This was a good learning experience to keep under my hat for the next outing. I'm glad it happened."

Up next
The Phillies host the Toronto Blue Jays on Friday afternoon. Aaron Nola will start for the Phillies against Marco Estrada. The Phillies will wear their tradition green St. Patrick's Day garb.

Frustration mounts — in manager's office and in clubhouse — over Odubel Herrera's antics

Frustration mounts — in manager's office and in clubhouse — over Odubel Herrera's antics

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Phillies manager Pete Mackanin favors using honey over vinegar when trying to teach enigmatic Odubel Herrera the right way to play the game.

But even Patient Pete has his limits.

So when Herrera did not run out a dropped third strike in the sixth inning of Tuesday night's 5-0 loss to the Houston Astros at Citizens Bank Park (see Instant Replay), Mackanin yanked him from the game as part of a double switch, a remarkable move considering Herrera has been the club's best hitter, batting .331 (58 for 175) since June 1.

"It had something to do with it," Mackanin admitted. "I'm going to talk to him tomorrow."

Herrera knows well the way to Mackanin's office. He's been called in front of the principal a number of times this season for transgressions that range from looking completely disinterested during some at-bats, to boneheaded base-running plays, to general lack of hustle. On one occasion, Mackanin fined Herrera for completely ignoring an order not to steal a base. Herrera decided to go anyway and was thrown out in a close game.

Herrera's antics have been noticed in the other dugout and in his own clubhouse. He lined a ball to the wall in the first inning Tuesday night and Astros centerfielder Derek Fisher made a nice running catch. Herrera had clearly assumed the ball would hit off the wall because he flipped his bat and did not run hard out of the box. After Fisher made the catch, players in the Houston dugout mocked Herrera's gaudy bat flip and later in the game Astros pitcher Charlie Morton threw one up and in on Herrera. Coincidence? Who knows?

Herrera was the Phillies' best offensive player during his first two seasons in the majors, hitting .291 with a .773 OPS in 2015-2016. Last winter, management rewarded the 25-year-old centerfielder with a five-year, $30.5 million contract extension. The move identified Herrera as a building block as he is the only player on the roster with a long-term deal.

Herrera was aware that his being pulled from the game was a topic of discussion in Mackanin's postgame news conference, but he did not stick around to speak with reporters.

Catcher Cameron Rupp did speak with reporters and he admitted that Herrera's misdeeds have been noticed in the clubhouse.

"It’s not a secret. It’s talked about," Rupp said. "If you guys are seeing it, we are seeing it. It is what it is. We can say it to him, Pete has said it to him. It’s no secret and when you don’t do it, you put Pete in that position to do what he did.

"Pete is the manager and what he asks us to do, we’re supposed to do. It’s a team thing and one guy can’t just not follow the rules. It’s not the first time. It has happened before and that’s something we don’t want to see. We want him in the game. He’s a good player. Pete doesn’t ask a whole lot of us. He asks us to play the game hard and play the game the right way. Guys are going to make physical mistakes. Mental mistakes are something you can control.

"Yeah, it’s frustrating. There is no doubt about it. But it’s something he asks us to do and we have to do it."

Rupp mentioned that some teammates, including Freddy Galvis, have spoken to Herrera about his flaws. Galvis, like Herrera, hails from Venezuela.

"At the end of the day, it is him that has to do it, not anybody else," Rupp said. "It's hard for us. He’s a grown man. He has to learn on his own. We can only say so much. Guys have said things. I know Freddy has talked to him. Juan Samuel has. The language barrier is there, but you have the Latin guys who can tell him. He understands enough English. But it’s something only he can control. We can only do so much."

The Phillies have lost two nights in a row to Houston, a team with a powerhouse offense and the second-best record in the majors at 67-33. On Tuesday night, the right-hander Morton held the Phils to three hits over seven shutout innings. He struck out nine. Why can't the Phillies get pitchers like that?

Rookie right-hander Nick Pivetta pitched well against a tough lineup for five innings, but he gave up five hits and four runs in the sixth inning as the game got away from him.

It will be interesting to see what comes out of the latest meeting between Mackanin and Herrera on Wednesday afternoon. Will Mackanin continue to employ a nurturing touch as he tries to coax the behavior he's looking for from Herrera? Will Herrera be benched for the series finale Wednesday night?

"I have to keep having conversations with him, that's all," Mackanin said. "He's a different kind of guy. I just have to keep him pointed in the right direction.

"Odubel does a lot for us. He's just a different character. We have to deal with him in a certain way. I'll have a nice talk with him tomorrow. He's going to be fine. He's been doing very well in that regard for the last month or so. But he just needs a reminder. He's in a development stage, as well."

Best of MLB: Todd Frazier hits into rare run-scoring triple play in Yankees' win

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Best of MLB: Todd Frazier hits into rare run-scoring triple play in Yankees' win

NEW YORK -- Todd Frazier had an unforgettable first at-bat in his home debut at Yankee Stadium, grounding into a rare run-scoring triple play as New York beat the Cincinnati Reds 4-2 Tuesday night.

Rookie Jordan Montgomery took a no-hit try into the sixth inning, and Didi Gregorius homered to boost the AL East contenders, his third in two games.

Last-place Cincinnati lost for the 10th time in 12 games. Billy Hamilton's bid for a tying extra-base hit in the eighth was thwarted when pinch-runner Zack Cozart, out of the starting lineup to rest his tender quadriceps, hobbled into third.

Back in the Bronx for the first time since the All-Star break, the Yankees brought along Frazier and relievers David Robertson and Tommy Kahnle, all acquired last week in a trade with the Chicago White Sox (see full recap).

Contreras, Cubs stay hot with win over White Sox
CHICAGO -- Willson Contreras drove in four runs and Carl Edwards Jr. provided some timely relief, helping the Chicago Cubs beat the Chicago White Sox 7-2 on Tuesday.

Ben Zobrist reached four times from the leadoff spot as the Cubs won for the ninth time in 11 games since the All-Star break. John Lackey (7-9) became the first major leaguer to hit four batters in two years, but managed to get into the sixth inning for his second straight victory.

The last-place White Sox were unable to overcome a strange performance by Carlos Rodon (1-4) in their 10th loss in 11 games. The left-hander matched a career high with 11 strikeouts and smacked a two-run double for his first career hit, but lasted just four innings in his third straight loss (see full recap).

Rays hold off Orioles to snap 5-game skid
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- Tim Beckham's three-run homer capped a five-run inning for Tampa Bay and rookie Jake Faria pitched into the eighth inning Tuesday night to help the Rays snap a five-game losing streak with a 5-4 win over the Baltimore Orioles.

Faria (5-1) posted his eighth quality start in nine starts, giving up three runs and seven hits while striking out five in 7 1/3 innings.

Alex Colome pitched the ninth for his 29th save after the Orioles got the potential tying run in scoring position in each of the last two innings.

Beckham's 12th home run was the fifth hit of the second inning off Wade Miley (4-9). Steven Souza Jr., Brad Miller, Adeiny Hechavarria and Mallex Smith all singled and scored in the Rays' big inning.

Trey Mancini homered for the Orioles (see full recap).