Phillies-Braves: 5 things you need to know

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Phillies-Braves: 5 things you need to know

Phillies at Braves
7:10 p.m. on NBC 10

The Phillies jumped out to an early two-run lead Friday night in Atlanta but immediately gave the runs back in a 6-4 loss (see Instant Replay).

The Phils have lost to the Braves five straight times, and at 42-54 they are 11 games behind Atlanta (53-43) in the NL East.

Here are five things you need to know about the middle game of the series:

1. First night back
Seven of eight Phillies starters reached base in their first game back from the All-Star break. The Phils had just six hits, but it wasn't a poor night offensively.

Jimmy Rollins walked twice out of the two-hole. Chase Utley hit his first double (not counting the All-Star Game) since June 7. Ryan Howard drove in two runs with a sixth-inning single. Marlon Byrd saw 20 pitches in four plate appearances. Grady Sizemore had two hits and is batting .313 in four games as a Phillie. Cody Asche had an RBI single and a bomb to right field with the bases loaded that may have been a grand slam in some parks but was just a sacrifice fly at Turner Field.

And the Phillies went 3 for 4 with runners in scoring position. They entered play ranked 27th in baseball with a .229 batting average with RISP.

2. Jimmy stays patient
Rollins walked for the 44th and 45th times Friday. He is on pace for 76 walks, which would best his previous career high by 14.

Where was this patience earlier in Rollins' career? He's been more selective in 2014 than ever before and hasn't sacrificed power doing it. Rollins is slugging .389 a year after slugging .348.

3. Milestone approaching
With his next steal, Rollins will reach 20 stolen bases for the 13th different year.

Only 13 players have ever had more seasons with 20-plus steals: Rickey Henderson (23), Ty Cobb (17), Ozzie Smith and Lou Brock (16), Willie Wilson, Max Carey, Eddie Collins and Honus Wagner (15), and Kenny Lofton, Otis Nixon, Brett Butler, Joe Morgan and Bert Campaneris (14).

4. Hamels on the hill
Cole Hamels, whose name has been bandied about lately in trade rumors, makes his first start of the second half looking for that elusive fourth win.

Hamels is 3-5 despite a 2.93 ERA, a .235 opponents' batting average and 106 strikeouts in 107 1/3 innings.

You know about the run support. The Phillies have barely scored for Hamels and he's been forced to make pitch after pitch in tie games. But he's still having a brilliant season. 

Over his last 13 starts, Hamels has a 2.18 ERA and has allowed just 68 hits in 90 2/3 innings. The Phillies are 6-7.

This is his second start of the year at Turner Field against the Braves. He pitched seven shutout innings there on June 16 in a 6-1 Phillies win.

Hamels has faced the Braves more than he's faced any other team. In 32 games, he's gone 14-8 with a 3.41 ERA and 1.15 WHIP.

5. They've hit Harang
Hamels' mound opponent is 36-year-old Braves right-hander Aaron Harang, who is 9-6 with 3.53 ERA.

The Phillies have tuned him up in two meetings this season, scoring 11 runs on 24 hits over 12 innings. 

Byrd is 9 for 20 (.450) lifetime against Harang with three homers. Utley is 13 for 30 (.433) with four doubles and a homer. Sizemore is 11 for 25 (.440) with four doubles. Howard is 9 for 27 (.333) with two doubles and three homers.

All told, current Phillies have hit .349/.404/.559 against Harang.

Roman Quinn hopes new offseason plan results in that elusive healthy season

Roman Quinn hopes new offseason plan results in that elusive healthy season

CLEARWATER, Fla. – Roman Quinn’s bio covers a wide range of body parts. There’s the Achilles tendon, as in torn, the quad, as in torn, and the oblique, as in strained. Twice. The word concussion also appears in there.
 
Sick and tired of having things go ‘pop’ in his body, Quinn decided to try something new after last season.
 
In early November, he rented an apartment “two minutes” from the Phillies’ spring-training facility and for three-plus months worked under the supervision of Paul Fournier, the team’s strength and conditioning guru.
 
“Paul and I worked five days a week,” Quinn said Saturday. “Strength. Flexibility. It was something I wanted to do because in the past I was doing something wrong in the offseason. I was ready for the season but I ended up getting leg injuries. Paul put together a plan to get my body right and he was there the whole time to tell me if I was doing something wrong. I’m going to carry it into the season.”
 
Quinn, 23, made a solid showing in a big-league cameo with the Phillies in September. In 15 games, he had a .373 on-base percentage and showed off a big arm in the outfield. Alas, he did not play in the final five games of the season after injuring his oblique for a second time.
 
Quinn’s play in September fueled speculation that he would be in the Phillies’ opening day outfield this season. Even manager Pete Mackanin said there was a good chance it could happen. But that late-season oblique injury served as one last reminder of Quinn’s inability to stay healthy and the Phillies ended up bringing in two outfielders, Howie Kendrick and Michael Saunders, this offseason.
 
Kendrick and Saunders were added first and foremost to provide some veteran impact and offense in the lineup. But you have to believe Phillies officials might have stopped at one veteran bat or brought in a semi-regular player to share time with Quinn if Quinn’s health history wasn’t such an issue. He’s never stayed on the field for a full season.
 
“If that was the case I can definitely see where they’re coming from,” Quinn said. “I know I need to play a full season and be healthy and prove that I can play 160-something games.”
 
Saunders’ signing last month pretty much made it official: Quinn will open the season in center field for Triple A Lehigh Valley. Quinn said he was not disappointed by that. He applauded the signing of Saunders.
 
“I think it was a good team decision,” he said. “He’s a really good player and he’s going to provide a lot for this team.
 
“Those things are out of my control. All I can do is go out and compete and play my heart out.
 
“I’ve never played at Triple A. If I do end up in Triple A, I’m going to make the most of it and play hard and compete like I have throughout my time in the minor leagues.”
 
When Quinn is healthy and on the field, he is a dynamic player, a 5-foot-10, 175-pound switch-hitter with gap power and blazing speed. He has 159 stolen bases in 356 minor-league games since being selected in the second round of the 2011 draft and passing on a scholarship to Florida State to sign with the Phils.
 
Quinn has the arm to play any outfield position. He showed that September 14 when he gunned down Sean Rodriguez at the plate in the ninth inning to help preserve a win over the Pittsburgh Pirates in Philadelphia. The throw registered 96 mph on MLB.com Statcast.
 
96.
 
The Phillies have one starting pitcher — Vince Velasquez — who throws that hard.
 
“It was a pretty cool feeling,” Quinn said.
 
In high school, Quinn was often used as a closer. He said he hit 94 mph on the radar gun back then.
 
Though Quinn is ticketed for Triple A, Phillies management is eager to see him play in Grapefruit League games. He was arguably the most exciting player on the field during his time in big-league camp last year.
 
“What we saw in September was a really exciting player with a lot of promise who has a chance to be an impactful big leaguer,” general manger Matt Klentak said. “But we want to make sure we’re doing the right thing for Roman developmentally. He’s never had an at-bat at the Triple A level and we don’t believe some additional time in the minor leagues will stunt his development.”
 
At Lehigh Valley, Quinn will be flanked by Dylan Cozens and Nick Williams in a prospect-studded outfield. All three could be in Philadelphia at some point this season.
 
“If I do end up at Triple A, we’re going to have a pretty stacked team,” Quinn said. “It will be exciting because we all could be knocking on the door of the big leagues.
 
“I know just getting that little taste last year made me feel like it was somewhere I belong. I’m hungry.”

MLB Notes: Blue Jays' Josh Donaldson misses workout with calf injury

MLB Notes: Blue Jays' Josh Donaldson misses workout with calf injury

DUNEDIN, Fla. -- Toronto slugger Josh Donaldson has missed the team's first full-squad workout because of a calf injury.

Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said Saturday that the third baseman tweaked his right calf while running sprints a day earlier. He was scheduled for an MRI and further evaluation. Donaldson injured the same calf last April but did not miss any significant time.

Donaldson, the 2015 AL MVP, batted .284 with 37 home runs and 99 RBIs last season. He was an All-Star for a third straight season and helped lead Toronto to the ALCS.

Also, catcher Russell Martin was given the day off because of a fever.

Bryce Harper thinks he had a bad 2016
WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. -- Washington Nationals outfielder Bryce Harper says he knows "exactly why" his production dipped last season from his MVP-winning performance a year earlier -- but he did not elaborate.

Harper met with reporters Saturday, the day before Washington's first official full-squad workout of spring training.

After saying he did know what happened to make him go from the youngest unanimous MVP in baseball history in 2015, to a .243 hitter in 2016, Harper evaded questions that tried to pin him down on the reasons.

He spoke about "staying in the lineup" last season as if it were a chore, but did not say that he was injured.

Asked what he thought of the Nationals' offseason transactions, Harper said the team's switch to a new training complex in Florida was the "biggest move I'm excited about."

Kershaw to start opening day for 7th straight time
GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Clayton Kershaw will make his seventh straight opening-day start for the Dodgers, tying Don Sutton's franchise record.

The announcement was no surprise. It took Manager Dave Roberts four days into spring training to say Kershaw will start April 3 at home against the San Diego Padres.

Roberts calls this an "obvious" decision. He spoke Saturday before his club began an abbreviated workout schedule on a rainy day in the desert.

Sutton made seven straight starts from 1972 through 1978. Don Drysdale had seven opening-day starts, but not in successive years. Fernando Valenzuela made six.

Kershaw is 4-0 with two no-decisions on opening day.

Yankees beat reliever Betances in final arbitration case
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- The New York Yankees beat Dellin Betances in the year's final salary arbitration case, and the relief pitcher will be paid $3 million rather than his $5 million request.

The decision gave teams an 8-7 edge in decisions this year, the most hearings since clubs won 10 of 16 decisions in 1994. Players won three of four cases last year.

Arbitrators Steven Wolf, Dan Brent and Sylvia Skratek issued their decision Saturday, a day after hearing arguments.

New York renewed Betances at the major league minimum $507,500 last year. A setup man for the first four months, he took over as closer after the trades of Aroldis Chapman to the Chicago Cubs and Andrew Miller to Cleveland.