Phillies-Padres: 5 things you need to know

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Phillies-Padres: 5 things you need to know

Phillies vs. Padres
1:05 p.m. on CSN

Fresh off a walk-off win over the Padres, the Phillies look to gain a rare three-game sweep over a team they rightfully outplayed in back-to-back games.

The Phils have just one sweep this season, April 11-13 over the Marlins at home.

Here are five things you need to know about Thursday's daytime series finale between the Phils and Padres:

An unlikely hero
Reid Brignac, who was about the 30th man on the Phillies' totem pole coming out of spring training, walked the Phils off with a three-run homer Wednesday night.

It was his first home run as a Phillie and his second walk-off knock in two weeks. Brignac also produced the game-winner in the 14th inning on May 31 against the Mets.

It was nice to see some clutch production out of a Phillies third baseman late in a game. Cody Asche is on the DL, and his three replacements -- Cesar Hernandez, Brignac and Freddy Galvis -- had eight hits in 64 (.125) at-bats from the seventh inning on.

Hamels on fire
Cole Hamels wasn't credited with a win Wednesday night, but he certainly earned one. He pitched eight shutout innings with 11 strikeouts to lower his ERA to 3.07.

Over his last seven outings, Hamels has struck out 56 in 50 2/3 innings while posting a 1.78 ERA. He's finished seven innings in each of those starts -- the third-longest streak of his career and the longest active streak in the majors.

The issue with Hamels has been run support. In his two wins, both against Cincinnati, the Phillies scored 15 runs for him. In his other eight starts, they scored a combined 17 runs.

Steady Kendrick on the hill
With a sweep in sight, this would be a good time for Kyle Kendrick to regain his command and make that two-seamer move.

Kendrick is who he's been this season -- a 4.30-ERA, 1.38-WHIP, No. 4/5-starter. Gives you as many quality starts as clunkers, pitches a lot of innings.

That has value. He's given the Phillies an average of 6 1/3 innings per start over 12 starts. He's on pace for 196 1/3 innings. Nearly 200 innings with that ERA could land Kendrick $7 to 9 million per year in a multi-year, free-agent deal this winter.

Kendrick hasn't seen these Padres much. Left-handed hitting Seth Smith is 8 for 14 with three doubles and a triple, so Kendrick could stay away from him. Chase Headley and Cameron Maybin are 1 for 7 and 1 for 9, each with homers against KK.

Stults replaces Cashner
The exciting Andrew Cashner was reportedly scratched from Thursday's start. The hard-throwing righty with the 2.13 ERA was activated from the DL last Saturday and pitched six shutout innings against the Nationals. An elbow strain originally sent him to the DL on May 14.

The Phillies will face lefty Eric Stults instead. Much different matchup.

Stults has been terrible this season -- 5.67 ERA, .321 opponents' batting average -- and these Phillies have hit .344 off him.

Marlon Byrd is 3 for 8 against Stults with two doubles. Jimmy Rollins is 3 for 8 with a HR, Carlos Ruiz is 3 for 6.

Lefties hit .176 with nine home runs against Stults from 2011-13, but Ryan Howard is 2 for 2 with two homers against him and Chase Utley is 2 for 5 with a double.

Success vs. San Diego
Since 2002, the Phillies are 54-27 against the Padres and have outscored them by 83 runs.

The Phils have won nine of the last 12 meetings with San Diego at Citizens Bank Park, outscoring the Friars 55-36 over that span.

The Padres have been a terrible offensive team this season, and especially in June. San Diego has hit .135 this month and scored 14 runs in nine games.

It's been so bad that the Padres are 10 for 61 in this series but have stll boosted their batting average for the month by eight points.

Phillies' Darin Ruf could be facing quiet goodbye

Phillies' Darin Ruf could be facing quiet goodbye

NEW YORK — The final eight games remaining on the Phillies’ 2016 schedule will undoubtedly serve as a farewell to Ryan Howard.

Lost in the background may be the fact this week could quite possibly be the end for the man who was supposed to platoon alongside him this year, as well: Darin Ruf.

Both men have been supplanted by Tommy Joseph, who's hit 21 home runs in just 100 games this year while positioning himself as the Phillies first baseman of the near future.

Ruf will start Saturday night against Mets’ lefthander Sean Gilmartin. The Phillies are not scheduled to face a lefty starter for the rest of the season, so Saturday could be one of the final chances to see Ruf in a Phillies uniform, especially considering manager Pete Mackanin’s stated intent to give Howard more playing time down the stretch.

“It seemed like we never faced a lefty for the first month of the season. So that didn’t help Ruf at the time,” Mackanin said.  “Joseph entered the picture and made an immediate impression.”

Ruf’s departure from the majors set the stage for Joseph’s immediate emergence. At the time of his May 13 demotion to AAA Lehigh Valley – and Joseph’s promotion -- Ruf was had a .158/.206/.193 slash line.
  
Since his Sept. 1 return to the majors after rosters expanded, Ruf has done what he can to make sure his possible final season in a Phillies uniform ends on a high note. On Friday night, he drilled a home run to left center off Mets reliever Josh Smoker in pinch-hit duty, the first time Ruf had gone yard since Oct. 1, 2015.

“It felt good,” Ruf said about ending his home run drought. “You just try to simply things and last night it worked out for me.”

Where Ruf will be next year is a more complicated matter, as the 30-year-old is out of minor league options. Japanese scouts were spotted at the games he played for AAA Lehigh Valley.

With Lehigh Valley, Ruf received an opportunity he’s never truly been able to get with the Phillies due to the longstanding presence of Howard: a chance to play every day and consistently accumulate plate appearances. He hit .294/.356/.529 in 390 trips to the plate for the IronPigs. 

Ruf has never made more than 300 plate appearances in a major league season and would struggle to crack that number if he remains in Philadelphia as a backup to Joseph, who will still be 25 on opening day next year.

“I learned [this year] that you can’t take anything for granted in this game,” Ruf said. “You’ve just got to keep working to get better every day, got to put up numbers no matter where you’re at in order to get to where you want. 

“Hopefully, wherever I’m at next year, I can do that.”

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Tonight's Lineup: Jorge Alfaro catches, bats 8th vs. Mets

Tonight's Lineup: Jorge Alfaro catches, bats 8th vs. Mets

Jorge Alfaro is behind the plate for the Phillies tonight and bats eighth. Alfaro has appeared in just four games since being called up earlier this month, and has just one hit in 10 at-bats. 

Tommy Joseph is back in the lineup and batting fifth. Pete Mackanin has said that Ryan Howard would get a lot of playing time during the last few games, but it is Joseph who gets the start tonight. Joseph is batting just .154 against the Mets this season. 

Odubel Herrera, who has been hitting well in September, will remain in the three spot. He has two homers and is batting .391 over the past week. Herrera has two hits in six at-bats against Mets' starter Sean Gilmartin. 

Phillies

1. Cesar Hernandez, 2B
2. Roman Quinn, RF
3. Odubel Herrera, CF 
4. Maikel Franco, 3B 
5. Tommy Joseph, 1B
6. Darin Ruf, LF
7. Freddy Galvis, SS
8. Jorge Alfaro, C
9. Alec Asher, P