Phillies-Cardinals: What you need to know

529370.jpg

Phillies-Cardinals: What you need to know

Phillies (23-23) at St. Louis Cardinals (25-20)
8:15 p.m. on CSN

In the Phillies most impressive offensive showing of the season, they scored six early runs and continued to pile on for insurance even as the Cardinals came back to tie the game at seven. The result was a 10-9 win that moved the Phils back to .500 and further accentuated their month-long offensive surge (see story).

On Friday, the Phils aim to move back over .500, where theyve spent just four of 46 games.

Starting pitchers
Cliff Lee takes the hill at Busch Stadium in search of his first win since Sept. 2011. Lee, 0-2 with a 2.66 ERA, is opposed by Cardinals righty and former Phillie Kyle Lohse (5-1, 2.91).

Lee has been brilliant this season but has little to show for it. He had a 1.95 ERA before allowing five runs over seven innings in his last start. He hasn't won despite pitching 10 shutout innings, eight innings of one-run ball (with 10 strikeouts) and a two-hitter over six innings. The Phillies have scored a grand total of 10 runs in 44 innings with Lee in the game.

Lohses command in 2012 has been excellent. Hes walked one or no batters in eight of nine starts and on the season has a 36-to-9 strikeout-to-walk ratio.

But he is currently on a trip back to earth after a torrid start to the season. Lohse was 3-0 with a 0.99 ERA through four starts, but has a 4.76 ERA in his last five outings.

Lohse has gotten a bit lucky this season. Hes allowed 40 line drives for a rate of 23.3 percent, a career-high. Yet hes allowing fewer hits than his career average.

The 33-year-old righty is a three-pitch pitcher. This season hes thrown a high-80slow-90s fastball 55 percent of the time, a mid-80s slider 24 percent and low-80s changeup about 17 percent. The remaining pitches have been curveballs.

Bullpen boost
The Phillies bullpen in the last seven games has a 1.86 ERA, a .174 opponents batting average and 25 strikeouts to just two walks.

Raul Valdes, Chad Qualls, Jacob Diekman, Antonio Bastardo and Jonathan Papelbon combined to produce 14 outs on Thursday after Joe Blanton was pulled after 4 13 innings.

Key matchup(s)
Lance Berkman is out 8-10 weeks after surgery to repair a torn meniscus. Take his bat out of the equation and current Cardinals are 10 for 57 lifetime off Lee for a .175 batting average.

But Lee, as accurate as he is, has walked Matt Holliday four times in 10 plate appearances. Holliday looks like hes heating up he has four homers and nine RBI in his last 10 games, including a mammoth blast to left field on Thursday so Lee should be extra careful.

Rafael Furcal is 2 for 3 in his career off Lee with a dinger.

Current Phillies are batting .299.356.452 off Lohse in a whopping 261 at-bats.

Hunter Pence is 13 for 41 (.317), Juan Pierre is 6 for 12 with a double and a triple and Placido Polanco is 10 for 28 (.357).

The combination of Jimmy Rollins, Shane Victorino and Carlos Ruiz, though, is just 15 for 71 (.211).

Victorino is seeing the ball better now than he has all season. Hes 11 for 23 over his last six games with five doubles and a homer.

Note of interest
After Thursdays 18-hit outburst, the Phillies lead Major League Baseball in May with a .286 team batting average.

Sound off
Will Friday be the night Lee finally wins?

E-mail Corey Seidman at cseidman@comcastsportsnet.com

Pete Mackanin unloads on Phillies' bullpen after latest collapse

Pete Mackanin unloads on Phillies' bullpen after latest collapse

BOX SCORE

ATLANTA — The Phillies’ bullpen continued its ugly, late-season collapse on Tuesday night. It was tagged for six runs in a 7-6 loss to the Atlanta Braves. The Braves rallied for the tying and go-ahead runs in the bottom of the eighth inning (see Instant Replay).
 
The loss came two days after the bullpen gave up 14 earned runs in four innings in a 17-0 loss to the New York Mets on Sunday and it left manager Pete Mackanin more than a little bit frustrated.
 
“The bullpen has just not been doing the job,” Mackanin said.
 
Jerad Eickhoff gave up just one run (on a solo homer by Freddie Freeman) over four walk-free innings to open the game. He was up 6-1 after four innings when the rains came and stopped the game for an hour and 53 minutes.
 
With Eickhoff bounced by the weather, Mackanin had to go to his bullpen. He used four relievers — Severino Gonzalez, Luis Garcia, Joely Rodriguez and David Hernandez — and all gave up runs.
 
Phillies relievers have pitched 77 1/3 innings this month and allowed 69 earned runs for an ERA of 8.03. So that’s one more thing Matt Klentak has to fix this winter, along with the offense that Mackanin wants to see addressed (see story).
 
Ultimately, Hernandez took the loss when he gave up three hits and a run in the bottom of the eighth. The other run in the inning was charged to Rodriguez.
 
As unbelievable as it may sound with rosters being expanded in September, the Phillies played this game shorthanded.
 
They did not have reliever Edubray Ramos. He had a sore elbow, Mackanin said.
 
They did not have outfielder Peter Bourjos, who had gone home to be with his wife for the birth of their child.
 
They also did not have outfielder Tyler Goeddel, who is out with a concussion.
 
Not having Bourjos or Goeddel forced Mackanin to use Darin Ruf in left field after Roman Quinn went out with an oblique injury in the sixth inning. Ruf failed to make a catch on a long fly ball by Tyler Flowers to the gap in left-center. The non-play extended the eighth inning and fueled the Braves’ comeback.
 
“It should have been caught,” Mackanin said. “If Quinn's out there, he catches it. He wasn't out there.”
 
Hernandez was the only free agent that the Phillies signed to a major-league contract this winter. The Phillies signed him with an eye toward using him as the closer. But Hernandez struggled much of the season and slipped into the middle innings while Ramos, Hector Neris and Jeanmar Gomez rose to high-leverage roles.
 
Gomez lost the closer’s job last week and Mackanin was saving Neris to close out this game. That meant Hernandez had to pitch the eighth. He couldn’t protect the lead. He gave up the game-tying hit to Mallex Smith and the go-ahead hit to Emilio Bonafacio.
 
“Neris was going to close for us,” Mackanin said. “I thought about using him with two outs in the eighth. But, at some point, somebody else has to do a (bleeping) job. Somebody else has to (bleeping) step up. In two games now, every reliever I brought in has given up a (bleeping) run. That's unheard of.”
 
The bullpen’s unraveling threw cold (rain) water on Eickhoff’s solid start and Ryan Howard’s big night. Howard belted his 24th homer, a grand slam in the first inning, to highlight a 14-hit attack and help the Phils jump to a 6-0 lead.
 
“Eickhoff looked like he was having one of his best games and then the rain came. So that was our first disappointment,” Mackanin said. "Other than that, Howie swung the bat great. Hit that grand slam. We got 14 hits, but we stranded 12 runners. We have to keep adding on.”
 
Quinn had three of the Phillies’ 14 hits then added to his collection of injuries with the oblique strain that bounced him from the game in the sixth. He hurt himself taking a swing.
 
Oblique injuries generally keep a player sidelined for at least three weeks, so Quinn’s season is likely over. He missed six weeks with a similar injury at Double A Reading this summer. The 23-year-old outfielder came up from the minors on Sept. 11 and has been auditioning for a spot on next season’s opening day roster.
 
“It looks like it,” Mackanin said when asked if Quinn was done for what remains of the season.
 
Injuries have been a consistent hurdle for Quinn ever since he was selected in the second round of the 2011 draft. He has missed significant time with a ruptured Achilles tendon, a wrist injury that required surgery, a torn quad muscle and an oblique strain. Now he has another one.
 
“It’s the same one I hurt before,” Quinn said. “It’s frustrating.”
 
Right now, just about everything is frustrating with this team. Good thing there are only five games left.

Find great deals on Philadelphia Phillies tickets with TicketIQ. Buy cheap Phillies tickets with no hidden fees for all games on their 2016 schedule. 

Best of MLB: Blue Jays beat Orioles in opener of AL wild-card showdown

Best of MLB: Blue Jays beat Orioles in opener of AL wild-card showdown

TORONTO -- Josh Donaldson hit a two-run homer, Aaron Sanchez struck out 10 and the Toronto Blue Jays beat the Baltimore Orioles 5-1 on Tuesday night in the opener of their AL wild-card showdown.

Ezequiel Carrera also homered as the Blue Jays won for the sixth time in eight games. They lead the wild-card standings by two games over the Orioles with five to play.

Baltimore began the day two games ahead of Detroit and Seattle for the league's final playoff spot.

Orioles slugger Chris Davis was ejected for arguing with plate umpire Will Little after striking out against Joe Biagini in the seventh, the third time in three at-bats Davis was caught looking. Baltimore manager Buck Showalter also was tossed after he came out to argue (see full recap).

Syndergaard, Mets pound grieving Marlins
MIAMI -- With time running out in the playoff race, the New York Mets set sympathy aside.

Noah Syndergaard struck out eight and allowed one run in six innings Tuesday night, and the Mets totaled 19 hits to beat the grieving Miami Marlins 12-1.

Jay Bruce and Yoenis Cespedes each hit his 31st homer for the Mets, who began the game with a half-game lead over the Giants in the battle for the first NL wild-card berth, with the Cardinals 1 1/2 games behind.

The game was the Marlins' second since the death of ace Jose Fernandez in a boating accident. One night after a heart-tugging victory over New York filled with tributes to their teammate, emotions were more subdued, and Miami's bats were too.

Syndergaard (14-9) had a lot to do with that. After missing a scheduled start Saturday with strep throat, he threw 93 pitches and lowered his ERA to 2.60, third-best in the majors. He'll return to pitch the regular-season finale Sunday at Philadelphia if needed (see full recap).

Cards beat Reds to tighten wild-card race
ST. LOUIS -- Playing with a heavy heart, Aledmys Diaz hit his first career grand slam and the St. Louis Cardinals finished with five home runs Tuesday night in a 12-5 victory over the Cincinnati Reds.

Chasing the Giants and Mets in a tight race for the two NL wild cards, St. Louis moved within a half-game of San Francisco for the league's final playoff spot -- pending the Giants' late game against Colorado.

New York, which beat Miami 12-1, leads the wild-card standings and remained 1 1/2 games ahead of the Cardinals.

Jhonny Peralta had a three-run homer and drove in four runs for the Cardinals, who had lost four of five. Matt Carpenter, Randal Grichuk and Matt Adams also homered (see full recap).