Phillies 6, Red Sox 5: Situational hitting, small ball led by Roman Quinn impresses Pete Mackanin

Phillies 6, Red Sox 5: Situational hitting, small ball led by Roman Quinn impresses Pete Mackanin

CLEARWATER, Fla. -- If the Phillies can bring a culture and expectation of winning into the clubhouse it will be days like Sunday that manager Pete Mackanin can look back at to see where it began.

Situational hitting, advancing runners, stealing bases, playing defense, dropping bunts and solid relief pitching all played a part Sunday in a 6-5 win against the Red Sox at Spectrum Field.

Boston got to starter Aaron Nola early when Pablo Sandoval sent a fastball well over the 401-foot sign in center field in the first inning and Steve Selsky added an RBI single in the second inning.

But Roman Quinn got the Phillies on the board with a solo home run off Red Sox starter Eduardo Rodriguez and Daniel Nava went 4 for 4 with a run scored. The Phillies had nine base hits but made just as many productive outs to advance baserunners.

"I'm excited about the fact that Cesar [Hernandez] hit that ground to second with men on second and third, got a run in and got a man over," Mackanin said. "[Howie] Kendrick battled in his at-bats and put the ball in play on the right side and got us a run. Freddy [Glavis] dropped down the bunt for a base hit. That's the type of stuff that catches my eye. That's the type of thing I hope we can do all year."

Mackanin said he was excited the Phillies battled back from an early deficit and added that it goes in hand with the development of a winning culture.

"We're trying to get these guys in a winning frame of mind," Mackanin said. "Winning is a big part of development. Everyone talks about development but winning is part of development and if you get in that frame of mind where you're used to winning, that's what we're looking for." 

Nola settled down after the early struggles and struck out six over 3 1/3 innings. He gave up five hits and three runs but said he felt good about where he is at this point.

"I felt pretty on point today, maybe the best I've felt all spring training," Nola said. "I made a couple mistakes over the plate. They hit some good balls but other than that all my pitches felt good."

Quinn looks mighty
Not only did Quinn get the Phillies started with the homer but the centerfielder had a single, stole a base and advanced a runner on a fly ball that would eventually score. 

Mackanin says Quinn has the ability to do several things during the course of a game to chance the outcome.

"He can win a game for you in a lot of different ways," Mackanin said. "Stealing a base late in a game. He's got enough pop to where teams won't worry about his size and they'll try to throw him fastballs because they don't want to walk him and have him steal a base. 

"But he's got the ability to hit a ball in the gap or out of the ballpark from both sides. He covers a lot of ground in the outfield. He's got an above-average arm. He can beat you in a lot of ways."

Learning off of television
When Mackanin was asked what he knew about newly acquired reliever Pat Venditte (see story), he simply replied "nothing". But Mackanin might get a sneak preview if he catches Team Italy in a World Baseball Classic game.

"Is he pitching for Italy?" Mackanin asked. "Maybe I'll watch him on TV."

Four head to minor-league camp
Infielder Rhys Hoskins, second baseman Scott Kingery, catcher Chace Numata and outfielder Andrew Pullin were assigned to minor-league camp after the game. The Phillies now have 58 players in major-league camp.

Up Next
Right-hander Jeremy Hellickson, the likely opening-day starter, will make his fourth start of the spring. Hellickson pitched four innings in his last start on March 8 against the Braves.

"We are looking for another solid outing from him," Mackanin said. "The most important thing is to lengthen him out and raise up the pitch count."

Instant Replay: Phillies 6, Diamondbacks 1

Instant Replay: Phillies 6, Diamondbacks 1

BOX SCORE

PHOENIX — Mark Leiter Jr.'s first big-league start was a memorable one. The 26-year-old right-hander from Tom's River, New Jersey, pitched six shutout innings to lead the Phillies to a 6-1 win over the Arizona Diamondbacks at Chase Field on Friday night.

The win was the Phillies' second in a row and just their third in the last 16 games. It came against an Arizona club that entered the day in second place in the NL West. The D-backs are 46-28 and have the best home offense in the majors, averaging 6.48 runs per game in their ballpark.

But Leiter, called up to replace injured Jerad Eickhoff, held off that lineup for his first big-league win. He also had his first big-league hit.

The Phillies are 24-48, worst in the majors.

Starting pitching report
Leiter held one of baseball's best offenses scoreless for six innings. He gave up three hits, walked just one and struck out five. The right-hander had one trouble spot. It came in the fourth when he allowed a one-out double to David Peralta then walked Paul Goldschmidt to put runners on first and second. Leiter then retired Jake Lamb and Chris Owings to get out of the inning. He punched his glove with excitement as he left the field. Leiter retired the final six batters he faced and left with a 1-0 lead.

Arizona's Patrick Corbin pitched one-run ball over 6 2/3 innings.

Bullpen report
Pat Neshek pitched a scoreless seventh inning to protect a one-run lead. Neshek, the subject of some controversy in recent days (see story), has allowed just two runs in 29 2/3 innings this season.

Joaquin Benoit allowed a run in the eighth, but got the final two outs with the tying run at third.

Hector Neris pitched a scoreless ninth inning.

Arizona's bullpen gave up five runs in the final two innings.

At the plate
Freddy Galvis tripled with one out in the first inning and scored on a groundout.

Maikel Franco put the Phils up, 2-0, on a solo homer in the top of the eighth. He got the green light on 3-0 and hammered a liner over the right-field wall.

The Phillies were clinging to a 2-1 lead when they erupted for four runs in the top of the ninth, highlighted by Tommy Joseph's two-run homer. Cameron Rupp and Howie Kendrick (pinch-hitter) also had important hits in the ninth.

The D-backs got on the board on an infield single by Rey Fuentes and a triple by Daniel Descalso in the eighth.

In the field
Odubel Herrera had an adventurous night in center field. He misplayed a ball into a double in the third inning then promptly gunned down the runner at third as he tried to advance on a fly ball.

Galvis made a tremendous snag on a hard liner by Peralta for the second out of the eighth inning. Galvis made the play up on the grass with the potential tying run on third.

Health check
Kendrick was scratched from the starting lineup with left hamstring tightness. Andres Blanco started at second base. Kendrick had a pinch-hit double in the ninth.

Up next
The series continues Saturday night with Ben Lively (1-1, 3.33) pitching against Arizona lefty Robbie Ray (7-3, 2.87).

For Pat Neshek and Pete Mackanin, goal is same: Contribute without risking injury

For Pat Neshek and Pete Mackanin, goal is same: Contribute without risking injury

PHOENIX -- Pete Mackanin and Pat Neshek talked on Friday.

"We're good," Mackanin said. "If there was some miscommunication, I'll put it on me."

"Yeah," Neshek confirmed. "I think it's just miscommunication. There's really no story. We laughed about it. We were like, 'This is kind of a stupid issue.' There's really nothing."

A mini-drama evolved over Neshek's availability to pitch the last few days. On Wednesday, the right-handed reliever was a no-go in a close game. Afterward Mackanin said he checked in with Neshek before the game and the pitcher had indicated he was sore. Neshek took some issue with that, saying he was told by Mackanin that he was getting a day off even before his condition was discussed.

In Thursday's 5-1 win over St. Louis, Neshek got two outs on five pitches in the eighth inning. It was his seventh appearance in 11 games. After the game, reporters asked Mackanin if he considered having Neshek, the team's best reliever, stay on for the ninth inning. Mackanin said he had but Neshek told him after the inning that he'd had enough. After the game, Neshek said the conversation never occurred, which was technically true because he had spoken to pitching coach Bob McClure, not Mackanin.

While the events of the last few days have been kind of silly, they have underscored something everyone already knew: The Phillies are going to be careful with Neshek and watch his workload closely. And Neshek is going to do the same. As he said Friday, he's a Tommy John surgery survivor and will protect himself.

Entering Friday, Neshek had allowed just 18 hits and two runs in 28 2/3 innings, many in high-leverage situations. That excellent work could make him an attractive trade chip for the Phillies in the coming weeks. This has put Mackanin on a tightrope as he looks to get contributions from Neshek without jeopardizing the 36-year-old pitcher's health and trade value.

Does that make Neshek just a one-inning reliever?

"I wouldn’t say he is," Mackanin said. "You know what? Let’s put it this way: I don’t want to upset or lose something that’s really working for us. If I push him, I’d hate for him to come up with something wrong with his arm. Last year, I don’t think he pitched a lot of full innings. He was pretty much a situational right-hander. I’m more cautious with him than he would be with himself."

Neshek pitched just 47 innings with Houston last year, mostly in medium- and low-leverage situations. The Astros were a contending team with a good bullpen. These Phillies are the worst team in the majors with a poor bullpen. Because of that, Neshek has been asked to pitch in more high-leverage situations and there could be a temptation to overextend him, to ask him to go more than an inning.

"I could do that," Neshek said Friday.

"I don't know about tonight," he added with a laugh.

"When you have a good bullpen, you usually don't need guys to do that kind of stuff," Neshek added. "I mean, a lot of guys, you know, kind of have been struggling here, so you're going to have to pick it up if that’s the case. But I mean, when you have a bullpen that's fully functional you'll never see that. In Houston we never had that problem, so I never did that. In St. Louis, a couple times we had that problem. But, I mean when you’re pitching middle relief you'll see a lot of 1 1/3 and stuff like that. … It's not an issue, man. If it's the playoffs, yeah, you're going out two innings. When you're down 30 games in the standings and I'm tired. … Yeah, I've been through Tommy John surgery. It's not any fun and I don't ever want to have to go through that again, so I'm going to protect myself."