Phillies-Giants: What you need to know

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Phillies-Giants: What you need to know

Phillies (5-5) at San Francisco Giants (4-6)10:15 p.m. on TCN

The Phillies won the first leg of a 10-game road trip by beating the Giants, 5-2, on Monday night as Roy Halladay outdueled Tim Lincecum. Get ready for the middle game of a three-game set in San Francisco with our scouting report.

Starting Pitchers
Joe Blanton (1-1, 2.35 ERA) makes his second start of the season after previously losing an outing in relief. Blanton cruised last Thursday, allowing one run on three hits to the Marlins over seven innings. Blantons fastball was sharp against Miami, averaging 90.4 miles per hour, a full mile per hour more than his career average.

For the Giants, Madison Bumgarner makes his third start coming off of a terrific outing at Coors Field. The 25-year-old lefty, who signed a six-year extension Monday, struggled in his first start in Arizona, allowing nine baserunners, two homers and four runs over just four innings. Bumgarner bounced back to limit the Rockies to one run over 7 13 last Thursday.

Previous games
The Phillies scored four runs in the first inning Monday to defeat Lincecum and win their fourth game in the last five meetings at AT&T Park. Prior to that, the Phils had gone 3-7 in their last 10 in San Fran.

Halladay didnt have his best stuff he walked three batters for only the fifth time in 68 starts with the Phillies but still lasted eight innings to pick up his third win. Jonathan Papelbon faced four batters in the ninth to pick up his third save in as many chances.
Head-to-head
The Phillies are 11-10 in 21 regular-season meetings with the Giants since the start of 2009. Last year, the Phils won the season series for the first time since 2006.

Blanton has faced the Giants twice as a member of the Phillies, once in 2009 and once in 2010. He allowed two runs over seven innings in the first start, and two runs over 6 13 in the second. Blanton walked none and struck out 12 over those 13 13 innings.

The pitcher Giants fans refer to as MadBum has made just one regular-season start against the Phils. Bumgarner struck out nine Phillies over eight innings last August, but the two second-inning runs he allowed were the difference as the Giants ran into the Cliff Lee August buzzsaw. Lee shut San Fran out and went 5-0 with a 0.45 ERA in the month. (...And it wasn't even his best month of the season.)

Angel Pagan, who figures to lead off Tuesday night, is 6 for 12 off Blanton with two home runs.

Minus Ryan Howard, the Phillies are 7 for 24 (.292) off Bumgarner. Hunter Pence and John Mayberry hit back-to-back solo home runs off Bumgarner last season at spacious, windy AT&T Park.

Whos hot
Shane Victorino went 2 for 4 on Monday to extend his hitting streak to nine games. Victorino, one of four Phillies batting .300 or higher, has a .316 clip on the season.

Laynce Nix almost certainly wont start Tuesday, as his struggles against lefties are Greg Dobbsian, but he is 2 for his last 5 with a pair of doubles to drive in three runs.

Whos not
The answer is still Placido Polanco, who went 1 for 4 on Monday with a first-inning double that should have been a routine flyout. Polanco continues to make weak contact only five of his 30 balls put into play have been line drives.

Storylines
A win would put the Phillies above .500 for the first time since the season-opener. It would also clinch their second straight series win in San Francisco.

A righty-heavy lineup expect to see John Mayberry in left field and Ty Wigginton at first base could find success against Bumgarner. Right-handers have hit .271 with a .716 OPS off Bumgarner in his career. Lefties are at .236 with a .614 OPS.

Pay close attention to Blantons fastball. It was by far his best pitch against the Marlins, saving 1.7 runs in the game according to Fangraphs. A key in that start was not overusing the fastball early in the count. Blanton threw it on the first pitch of an at-bat just 52 percent of the time.

Sound off
Which Phillie would you most like to see have a productive game at the plate Tuesday night?

E-mail Corey Seidman at cseidman@comcastsportsnet.com

Maikel Franco's benching continues as Howie Kendrick readies to play 3rd base in minors

Maikel Franco's benching continues as Howie Kendrick readies to play 3rd base in minors

The benching of Maikel Franco lasted for a second day Wednesday.

When will it end?

"It's a day-to-day thing," Pete Mackanin said. "No specific plan."

Franco is hitting just .221 with a .281 on-base percentage and a .377 slugging percentage.

Mackanin first benched his third baseman/cleanup hitter on Tuesday. At the time, the manager said he was trying to take some heat off the slumping Franco and let him clear his mind, but the overriding reason for the benching is simple: Mackanin is looking for Franco to make the fundamental adjustments in his swing that will lead to more production.

"At this level you've got to produce," Mackanin said Tuesday. "You want to play, you've got to hit and they have to understand that. Nobody is here on scholarship.

"As much as he works in the cage and on the field in batting practice and does it right, when he gets in the game his head is still flying and his bat is coming out of the zone.

"I can't teach you to keep your head in there. I can tell you to do it, but you have to do it on your own and he's got to figure it out. … If you make outs the same way over and over, it's not going to change."

Franco on Wednesday said he understands the benching. He is disappointed in his production.

"Yes, I'm disappointed," he said. "I know I can produce better and help the team more. Nobody wants to be in this situation, hitting .220. The only thing to do is try to get better.

"I think any good hitter hitting .220 is going to be disappointed. I will not stop working and doing what I have to to get better."

Typically, a manager, especially one such as Mackanin, whose strength is communication, would speak to a player and lay out the reasons for an extended benching.

But Mackanin has chosen to let the lineup card do the talking on this one. He'd like to speak with Franco about the situation, but wants the player to come to him.

It doesn't sound like that's going to happen.

"They understand and I understand, you know?" Franco said. "I'm not the guy to go into the manager's office and say, 'Why am I not in the lineup?' I want to play. He knows what he's doing and I know what I'm capable of doing. Every single day when I come in, I'm 100 percent mentally ready to be in the lineup and I'm ready to play. If I'm not in the lineup, I have to get relaxed and just try to do everything I can to make an adjustment so when I'm in the lineup, I'll do my job."

Andres Blanco played third base in place of Franco on Tuesday and Wednesday. If Franco doesn't improve when he gets back in the lineup — whenever that may be — there could soon be another player in the mix at third base.

Howie Kendrick began a minor-league rehab assignment at Lehigh Valley on Wednesday night. He played left field in that game. Mackanin said the rehab stint would last four games and that Kendrick would also play first and third base.

Do the math on that one.

Franco can be optioned to the minors so that could also be a possibility if his problems persist.

Phillies-Rockies 5 things: Hellickson good to go; Franco sits again

Phillies-Rockies 5 things: Hellickson good to go; Franco sits again

Phillies (15-28) vs. Rockies (30-17)
7:05 p.m. on CSN; streaming live on CSNPhilly.com and the NBC Sports App

The Phillies' nightmarish skid continued Tuesday as they dropped a second straight game to a Rockies rookie starting pitcher.

They've been outscored 16-3 in the first two games of this four-game series against a Colorado club that has the best record in the NL and more road wins (17) than the Phillies have total wins.

Let's take a look at Game 3:

1. Hellickson good to go
The Phillies got a scare last Friday night when Jeremy Hellickson hurt his lower back during his seventh-inning at-bat, but they avoided disaster when it was diagnosed as mere stiffness as opposed to something more serious like a strained oblique.

Hellickson said that night and again the next morning that he felt fine and wouldn't miss a start. The Phillies are thankful for that given the inefficiencies of their rotation, which has just 16 quality starts in 43 games, third-fewest in the majors.

Hellickson (5-1, 3.44) was locked in last weekend against a weak Pirates lineup but this is much more of a challenge. Don't expect him to set down 16 of 17 batters the way he did in Pittsburgh.

The Phillies are 8-1 when Hellickson pitches this season and 7-27 when anyone else does. The only loss in a Hellickson start came against the Cubs on May 2, the first of a three-start skid in which Hellickson allowed 12 runs in 13⅔ innings. Of those 12 runs, 11 scored via home runs. He allowed seven homers in those three starts after giving up just two in his first five.

The Rockies present a lot of challenges and one of them is that they've been the second-best team in the majors this season against the changeup, which is Hellickson's go-to pitch. Only the Marlins (.312) have a higher batting average vs. changeups than the Rockies (.286).

(For reference, the Phillies are 28th in baseball against changeups with a .201 batting average.)

Then again, not all changeups are the same, and Hellickson did limit the Marlins to one run on seven hits over six innings when he faced them April 27.

Current Rockies are just 10 for 56 (.179) off Hellickson. Ian Desmond has the only homer (2 for 5, HR, double).

2. Blackmon the Destroyer
Charlie Blackmon, good lord.

The guy has seven home runs in his last five games at Citizens Bank Park. Over that span — Aug. 12, 2016 through last night — Blackmon has more homers at CBP than any Phillie.

Think about how ridiculous that is. Aaron Altherr and Ryan Howard are next with six homers in 15 and 17 games, respectively. Then comes Freddy Galvis with five in 26 games.

3. Fading fast
At 15-28, the Phillies are on pace to finish 57-105. They've dropped 19 of 23 and now have the second-worst record in the majors, ahead of only the 16-31 Padres.

The offense has been completely devoid of life lately. It's not like these guys are going out and playing with zero energy, but when you don't hit, it's always going to seem like that.

Since May 12, the Phillies are 2-9. They've hit .225/.273/.345 as a team for the second-worst OBP and OPS, ahead of only the Mariners.

They've been middle of the pack with runners in scoring position over that span, but they have just 89 plate appearances with RISP, which is seventh-fewest in baseball.

A lot of this can be attributed to the top of the order. Cesar Hernandez is 9 for 54 (.167) with no extra-base hits over his last 14 games. And that vaunted 1-2 in the Phillies' order — a duo which hit close to .350 in April — is down to .282.

4. Scouting Chatwood
The Phillies face 27-year-old right-hander Tyler Chatwood (3-6, 5.09).

He was the Rockies' best starting pitcher last season when he went 12-9 with a 3.87 ERA in 158 innings. He walked 70 and those control issues have continued this season — 27 walks in 53 innings.

He's been especially wild lately, walking 19 in 21⅔ innings this month. 

Chatwood averages 95 mph with his fastball and sinker and 88-90 with his slider and changeup. He also throws a high-70s curveball.

He faced the Phillies twice last year and went 0-2, allowing 10 runs (eight earned) in nine innings. Interestingly, though, no active Phillie has an extra-base hit against him.

Hopefully, the Phils will be able to make Chatwood work tonight and take advantage of their opportunities with men on base. They stranded the bases loaded three times last night.

5. Franco sits again
Maikel Franco and Cameron Rupp are sitting again. Pete Mackanin wants the extremely inconsistent, wild-swinging Franco to sit back and watch for a few days to regroup. He also wants to see some more of Andrew Knapp after a rough defensive week from Cameron Rupp.

1. Cesar Hernandez, 2B
2. Freddy Galvis, SS
3. Aaron Altherr, LF
4. Tommy Joseph, 1B
5. Andres Blanco, 3B
6. Odubel Herrera, CF
7. Andrew Knapp, C
8. Michael Saunders, RF
9. Jeremy Hellickson, P