Phillies hope rain stops, slumbering bats awaken

slideshow-041613-phillies-team-ap.jpg

Phillies hope rain stops, slumbering bats awaken

CINCINNATI -- The start of Tuesday night’s game between the Phillies and Reds was delayed by rain.

So Charlie Manuel will have to wait a little longer to see when his team will start hitting on this trip.

“Anytime we want we can start hitting the ball and scoring runs,” Manuel lamented before batting practice. “I’m not panicking, but I’d like to see us put our game together and have our pitching, hitting and defense all come together at once. It’s got to flow together. That’s what we’re not getting.”

In the first four games of the trip, the Phils scored just eight runs. Three of them came on late-game, pinch-hit home runs. Missing is sustained offense throughout the game. The Phils are just 7 for 34 (.206) with runners in scoring position in the four games.

Against left-handed pitching? It’s ugly. For the season, the Phils are hitting just .136 (11 for 81) as a team against lefty pitching and their on-base percentage against lefties is .186. Ryan Howard, Jimmy Rollins and Chase Utley are a combined 4 for 39 (.103) with 18 strikeouts against lefties.

“That’s been a concern for the last few years,” Manuel said. “Our right-handed hitters haven’t knocked them out either.”

Leadoff man Ben Revere is hitless in his last six at-bats, falling to .222 with a .276 on-base percentage. Revere might end up in the No. 8 hole when Carlos Ruiz and Delmon Young are ready to play. The addition ofthose two right-handed bats will give Manuel the flexibility to use Michael Young in the No. 2 hole and lengthen the lineup with Revere at No. 8.

Catcher Erik Kratz has is 1 for 12 on the trip and is hitting .171 (7 for 41) on the season. He was not in the starting lineup Tuesday night as Manuel went with Humberto Quintero for the second time in three games.

“I just decided to go that way,” Manuel said. “We’ve said Quintero was going to catch a couple times a week. Most likely Kratz will be in there (Wednesday).”

Quintero could also be in there on Friday when Roy Halladay makes his next start. He has caught Halladay’s last two starts, including the veteran right-hander’s 200th career win on Sunday.

Ruiz will be eligible to return on April 28 in New York. At that time, the Phillies will have to decide who stays as the backup catcher -- Kratz or Quintero. Kratz has minor-league options; Quintero would have to clear waivers to be sent down.

Manuel indicated that he’s evaluating the situation.

“Sooner or later when people come back we’ll have to make some changes on our roster,” he said.

The Phils will also have to drop an outfielder when Young returns around May 1. Reserve Ezequiel Carrera seems like the obvious choice.

Howie Kendrick hit by pitch twice, removed from rehab start at Triple A

Howie Kendrick hit by pitch twice, removed from rehab start at Triple A

Howie Kendrick experienced a painful rehab start on Thursday night.

Rehabbing with Triple A Lehigh Valley, Kendrick was hit by a pitch twice before being removed after the sixth inning of the IronPigs' 8-4 loss to Indianapolis at Coca-Cola Park.

Both times Kendrick was plunked in the upper left arm, according to Tom Housenick of the Morning Call.

There was no update on if Kendrick was injured or taken out for precautionary reasons. Thursday marked Kendrick's second rehab start as he recovers from an oblique strain that has sidelined him since April 15.

The Phillies' leftfielder started at third base Thursday. At the beginning of his rehab assignment, Kendrick was expected to play four games and see time at third and first base, as well as in left field.

Kendrick made a throwing error at third on Thursday and finished 0 for 1 with a run scored. In his two games, he's 0 for 3 with two strikeouts.

Kendrick hit .333 with four doubles, a triple and five RBIs in 10 games with the Phillies prior to landing on the DL.

When he returns, he could see time at third base instead of left field if Maikel Franco continues to struggle (see story).

Best of MLB: Solo homers power Cubs to win over Giants

Best of MLB: Solo homers power Cubs to win over Giants

CHICAGO -- Kris Bryant, Jason Heyward and Ben Zobrist hit solo homers, spot starter Eddie Butler pitched five effective innings and the Chicago Cubs beat the San Francisco Giants 5-1 on Thursday for their third straight win.

Mike Montgomery followed with four scoreless innings and allowed one hit in his first save.

Heyward went deep for the second time in three games and Zobrist added two singles as the Cubs took three of four games in a set with the Giants and finished a homestand at 7-2 (see full recap).

Cruz blast helps Mariners top Nationals
WASHINGTON -- Nelson Cruz greeted reliever Jacob Turner with a go-ahead, three-run homer in the sixth inning, and the Seattle Mariners beat the Washington Nationals 4-2 Thursday to stop a five-game losing streak.

Gio Gonzalez took a 2-0 lead into the sixth, when Jean Segura singled leading off and Guillermo Heredia took a called third strike. That prompted Seattle manager Scott Servais to complain from the dugout, which led to his ejection by plate umpire Adam Hamari.

Robinson Cano singled, and Washington manager Dusty Baker brought in Turner (2-3), despite Cruz having just one hit in 15 at-bats against Gonzalez. Cruz drove a belt-high slider over the fence in left-center for his 12th homer this season and a 3-2 lead. Cruz leads the AL with 40 RBIs.

Cano added an RBI single off Turner in the seventh. Seattle scored multiple runs for the first time since May 18 (see full recap).

Andriese, Rasmus help Rays blank Angels
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- Matt Andriese allowed six hits over eight innings, Colby Rasmus drove in four runs and the Tampa Bay Rays salvaged a split of a four-game series with Los Angeles by beating the Angels 4-0 on Thursday.

Andriese (5-1) improved to 4-0 over his last five starts, holding the Angels to 1 for 11 with runners in scoring position. Los Angeles threatened in five innings against the right-hander.

Rasmus had a pair of key two-out hits with the bases loaded: a two-run single in the first and a fifth-inning double that made it 4-0.

Tommy Hunter got three outs to complete a six-hitter (see full recap).