Phillies notch another walk-off win over Rockies

slideshow-phillies-team-celebrate-ap.jpg

Phillies notch another walk-off win over Rockies

BOX SCORE

It was a curious thing when Jimmy Rollins took off from second base with two outs in the ninth inning and the Phillies trailing by a run to the Colorado Rockies in Thursday night’s dramatic 5-4 victory at Citizens Bank Park.

No, it wasn’t odd that Rollins would attempt to steal third base in that situation. Clearly, Rollins saw that it wasn’t a risk.

But why would the Rockies allow the tying run to get 90 feet from the plate after the Phillies had rallied for a walk-off win in the ninth barely 24 hours before?

So didn’t it just figure that the only way Rollins could have scored on Michael Young’s slow roller to the left of the pitcher’s mound was if he was on third base? With the way things have gone for the Phillies since Sunday, yes.

Dom Brown delivered the walk-off hit this time, scoring Young to seal the dramatics (see Instant Replay). How dramatic has it been lately? The Phillies have won four out of their last five games all by one run and three of them on walk-offs. Moreover, in Ryne Sandberg’s first week as manager of the Phillies, the team is 4-3 and feeling good after winning their first four-game series of the season.

Sure, the Phillies are still way behind in the standings. At 57-70, the Phillies are 20 games behind the first-place Braves, but they still feel like they have something to play for.

“It’s what winning will do,” Young said. “As tough as that stretch was -- and there’s no getting around it, it was a very difficult stretch for our team -- I felt like we knew we were better than that. And we look forward to showing that over the next five weeks.”

In the late innings of Thursday’s game, just like on Wednesday night, the Phillies seemed headed for a loss to the Rockies. Thursday’s game was especially dire with the Phillies trailing by three with four outs to go.

But that’s where it started. Darin Ruf belted a two-run homer with two outs to cut the deficit to one run. For Ruf it was his ninth homer of the season and seventh in August, the sixth most in the league for the month.

In the ninth, the Phillies again didn’t get going until there were two outs. After Roger Bernadina and Kevin Frandsen were retired easily by closer Rafael Betancourt, Rollins laced a 1-1 pitch into the corner in right for the double.

Two pitches later, he was standing on third with a stolen base.

Young’s dribbler and a six-pitch walk to Chase Utley (his third walk of the game) set the stage for Brown to deliver the walk-off piece.

Suddenly, the Phillies are having fun.

“We’re having a lot of fun,” Brown said. “Mike’s at-bat was very big, getting Jimmy in from third, and him stealing that base right there was definitely big as well. I just got a good pitch to hit. I knew he was going to try to get ahead of me with the first pitch. I was just looking for something up to drive.”

It was Brown’s second walk-off of his career, with the other coming on June 17 against Washington. Meanwhile, the Phillies have scored 17 runs in their last four wins and nine of those runs have come in the last two innings.

Actually, nine of the 17 runs have come with four outs or fewer to go in the game.

Needless to say, Sandberg believes games like Thursday -- as well as Wednesday and Sunday -- can spiral. Good vibes are infectious, Sandberg said, and the Phillies are feeling pretty good, lately.

“There’s a sense in these games that good things can happen with a positive energy and the guys pulling for each other,” Sandberg said. “The guys are having quality at-bats and rising to the occasion and then getting the big hit.”

Getting the big hit with a flair for the dramatic, too. Better late than never, right?

“I’d like to do something before those final at-bats, to be honest with you,” Young said. “The key is making sure we’re getting wins. I think the biggest thing is that we’re bearing down as a team and I think that’s something we weren’t doing earlier in the year. We talked about it as a team, we weren’t coming back at all. If we were down, we were losing. It feels good to show some life, show some heart at the end of these games.”

The Phillies continue their 10-game homestand on Friday night when the Arizona Diamondbacks arrive for three games. The pitching matchups for the series are:

Friday: Cole Hamels (5-13, 3.61) vs. LHP Wade Miley (9-8, 3.56)
Saturday: Ethan Martin (2-2, 5.23) vs. RHP Randall Delgado (4-4, 3.82)
Sunday: TBA vs. LHP Patrick Corbin (13-3, 2.45).

Tonight's lineup: Cesar Hernandez, Tommy Joseph, Cameron Rupp back in after day off

Tonight's lineup: Cesar Hernandez, Tommy Joseph, Cameron Rupp back in after day off

The Phillies, winners of six straight, are using a more traditional lineup for tonight's series open in Los Angeles against the Dodgers.

Cesar Hernandez, Tommy Joseph, and Cameron Rupp are all back in the lineup after getting Thursday afternoon off against the Marlins. Hernandez is back in his usual leadoff spot, while Joseph is hitting seventh and Rupp eighth. Freddy Galvis is back in the two-hole.

Maikel Franco will look to continue his hot streak tonight against Dodgers starter Kenta Maeda. Franco is 9 for 23 with a double, two homers, 10 RBIs, three walks and just one strikeout during the Phillies' current winning streak.

Franco is 2 for 5 with a strikeout and two singles in his career against Maeda.

Here is the Phillies' full lineup.

1. Cesar Hernandez, 2B
2. Freddy Galvis, SS
3. Odubel Herrera, CF
4. Maikel Franco, 3B
5. Michael Saunders, RF
6. Aaron Altherr, LF
7. Tommy Joseph, 1B
8. Cameron Rupp, C
9. Jerad Eickhoff, P

And the Dodgers' lineup:

1. Andrew Toles, CF
2. Corey Seager, SS
3. Justin Turner, 3B
4. Adrian Gonzalez, 1B
5. Yasmani Grandal, C
6. Chase Utley, 2B
7. Cody Bellinger, LF
8. Enrique Hernandez, RF
9. Kenta Maeda, P

For more on tonight's game, check out Corey Seidman's game notes.

Phillies-Dodgers 5 things: Next 15 games will show us who the Phils are

Phillies-Dodgers 5 things: Next 15 games will show us who the Phils are

Phillies (11-9) at Dodgers (11-12)
10:10 p.m. on The Comcast Network; streaming live on CSNPhilly.com and the NBC Sports App

Draft, schmaft. The streaking Phillies are the best story in town.

OK, maybe not until Monday. But there's a buzz around this Phillies team, which has won six games in a row but begins a tough road trip Friday night in L.A.

Let's take a look:

1. Daunting stretch commences
The Phillies played well for the first seven weeks last season and carried a 25-19 record into a difficult road trip through Detroit and Chicago.

They won one game on that trip, beginning a stretch of 19 losses in 24 games. With that, their season was effectively over.

"We've just got to continue that for a little bit longer than we did last year," Pete Mackanin said after Thursday's win.

It won't be easy. The Phillies have three at Dodger Stadium, then four at Wrigley Field against the defending champion-Cubs, then they play six of their next eight against the Nationals, who've been the best team in baseball this month. (They also have a two-game series with the Mariners in there.)

Even if the Phils go something like 6-9 during this upcoming stretch, they'd emerge out of it 17-18, which would be a more-than-respectable start given the difficulty of their early-season schedule.

The good news is that after facing the Nationals six more times the next two weeks, the Phillies don't play them again until September.

2. Be like Maik
Maikel Franco's hot bat has carried the Phillies over the last week. 

During the six-game winning streak, he's gone 9 for 23 (.391) with a double, two homers, 10 RBIs, three walks and just one strikeout. The grand slam was great but the best sign has been the way he's used the whole field and not gotten himself out.

Franco is hitting mistake-pitches right now. It's something we haven't seen him do consistently the last two seasons because of his over-aggressiveness.

This hot streak won't last forever — in fact, it might not even make the trip out West. But Franco has indeed shown that when he's seeing the ball well, he can carry an offense. We used to say that often about the Phillies' previous cleanup hitter, didn't we?

3. Also, be like Eick
The Phillies have played so well the last week that even the national folks at MLB Network took notice Thursday night.

Greg Amsinger, Dan Plesac and Eric Byrnes did two whole segments on the Phillies, and at the end of one of them Plesac said that, "When this team is ready to contend again, Jerad Eickhoff will be front and center."

Eickhoff is finally getting some recognition.

Every athlete in every sport will tell you consistency is what they seek the most. It's as cliche as it gets, and it's usually meaningless because nothing in sports is totally consistent. You're hot for a few weeks, teams adjust, a cold spell begins, etc.

Well, Eickhoff is totally consistent. He's pitched six or more innings in 26 of 37 starts the last two seasons and he's allowed three earned runs or less in 31 of them.

Every fifth day, the Phillies know what they're going to get: at least six quality innings that keep them in the game and provide them a chance for a late win.

The Phils never seem to hit for Eickhoff, who is 0-1 this season despite stellar numbers: a 2.55 ERA, 1.05 WHIP, more than a strikeout per inning and a .200 opponents' batting average.

Eickhoff has been considerably better at home than on the road during his brief career, posting a 2.95 ERA at Citizens Bank Park and a 3.80 ERA everywhere else.

He's never pitched at Dodger Stadium, a ballpark that definitely favors pitchers.

Eickhoff's lone meeting with the Dodgers came last August. It was one of the few games he allowed more than four runs, but the Phillies actually provided some offense to get him off the hook. He struck out eight but was taken deep by Justin Turner and Yasmani Grandal.

4. A look at the Dodgers
Over are the days when the Dodgers had too many productive outfielders to play at one time. Matt Kemp has been traded twice, Andre Ethier can't get on the field, Joc Pederson is on the DL and Yasiel Puig has become a mediocre player.

The Dodgers' lineup looks a lot different these days, especially with first baseman Adrian Gonzalez shelved temporarily with a forearm injury that's bothered him for months.

Turner and Corey Seager are the two standouts in L.A.'s lineup. 

It's often mentioned that the Mets shouldn't have let Daniel Murphy walk, but losing Turner hurt nearly as much. Since signing with the Dodgers in 2014, Turner has hit .300/.368/.491 with 90 doubles, 50 home runs and 201 RBIs in 407 games. He's coming off an insane second half last season and leads the NL with nine doubles.

Seager has so far lived up to every bit of hype. In 898 plate appearances, he's hit .312 with a .900 OPS. He walks, he has massive power, he hits doubles (40 last season) and plays really good defense.

The key to holding the Dodgers in check is getting past that 2-3 of Seager and Turner. The rest of the lineup is lacking right now with Gonzalez, Pederson and Logan Forsythe banged up.

The Dodgers earlier this week called up one of their top prospects in first baseman Cody Bellinger. He's 1 for 10 with five strikeouts through three games. He entered the season as Baseball America's No. 7 prospect in the majors. The guy has hit bombs at every minor-league level.

5. Phils face Maeda
• The Phillies will face second-year Japanese right-hander Kenta Maeda, who went 16-11 with a 3.48 ERA last season but hasn't pitched well yet in 2017. In four starts, he's 1-2 with a 8.05 ERA and has allowed seven home runs in 19 innings.

Maeda doesn't go too deep into games. He's lasted less than six innings in 21 of his 36 starts with the Dodgers.

Maeda got the win both times he faced the Phillies last season but didn't pitch particularly well either time. He gave up five runs in 11 innings on four homers. The home runs were hit by Aaron Altherr, Freddy Galvis, Cesar Hernandez and Cameron Rupp.

Galvis and Hernandez each reached base against him three times.

Maeda has five pitches: a four-seam fastball, slider, changeup, sinker and curveball. He primarily uses the fastball and slider against righties but will throw any of those pitches to a lefty. The changeup has been by far his best pitch in the majors (.204 opponents' batting average, no home runs allowed) and the curveball has been by far his worst (.383).