Phillies suffer another embarrassing loss to Indians

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Phillies suffer another embarrassing loss to Indians

BOX SCORE

CLEVELAND -- They were both over quick. Real quick. Big early lead for the Indians. No fight from the Phillies. Embarrassing loss.

The Indians hammered the Phillies again Wednesday night, adding a 6-0 win to their 14-2 victory on Tuesday (see Instant Replay).

In the two-game series at Progressive Field, the Phillies were outscored 20-2, out-hit 31-8 and went 3 for 25 with runners on base and 1 for 16 with runners in scoring position.

Their two Cy Young Award winners, Roy Halladay and Cliff Lee, allowed a combined 12 earned runs and 18 hits in 9 2/3 innings to a team that came in three games under .500. And the Phillies’ bats were stifled by two starters with a combined eight career wins between them.

“They pretty much pounded us both games, there’s no way around it,” Lee said after giving up five runs, four earned and nine hits in six innings. “They crushed us both games. It was never really close, either one of them. We gotta have a little more pride than that and figure out a way to at least get back into games and make it somewhat competitive.”

After an encouraging three-game sweep of the Mets, the Phillies have regressed to 12-16, and the reality is that they’re 5-1 this year vs. the Mets and 7-15 against everybody else.

And Halladay and Lee have won just four of 12 starts.

“I felt OK,” Lee said. “I felt like they hit some decent pitches and got some breaks, and that’s what happens when you’re swinging the bat well as a team, putting the ball in play. It seems things go your way whenever as a group you’re squaring the ball up, and that’s what they’re doing. It seems like everything is going their way.”

Once again, the Phillies had tons of base runners. They had at least two men on base in five of the first seven innings. Their leadoff batter reached five of the first seven innings. Twice -- in the fourth and the seventh -- they had first and second with nobody out.

“We had chances,” manager Charlie Manuel said. “We had men in scoring position. We just couldn’t knock them in.”

The top five in the lineup went 0 for 16, and the Phillies finished with just three hits against five Indians pitchers.

“Would’ve been nice to cash a couple in for sure,” said Michael Young, who went 0 for 4 with two strikeouts and grounded into his seventh double-play of the year. “Like I said, we would’ve liked to cash in on a couple. If we could get some of those opportunities back, it’d be nice.

“They were swinging the bats well against two really good pitchers, so you have to give them some credit for that. But at the same time, we felt like we had a lot more to take offensively than what we showed these last couple games.”

This is the first time the Phillies have allowed 14 or more hits in consecutive games since a series against the Nationals last May.

The Indians have now scored 39 runs in their last four games, winning them by a combined 39-5.

“Hot,” Manuel said. “They're playing good. They have a lot of energy. Things are going good for them right now. They were aggressive. They hunted fastballs. And we gave them quite a few.”

The Phillies have now been shut out four times in their last 15 games. This is the first time they’ve been blanked four times in the first 28 games of the season since 1997.

Lee, making his first start in Cleveland since he was with the Indians in 2009, was better than Halladay a night earlier but did allow four earned runs and nine hits in six innings to fall to 2-2.

“The things I regret are obviously I walked a couple of guys and both scored,” he said. “I have to do a better job of at least making them work their way on base. But they got breaks when they needed them and they swung the bat well, you have to give them credit.
Lee was out-pitched by a 22-year-old right-hander making his sixth career start.

Trevor Bauer, promoted from Triple A Columbus earlier in the day, picked up his second career win despite walking six batters in five innings.

Bauer allowed only one hit -- a fourth-inning single by Domonic Brown -- and struck out five.

“We had some walks, but it was kind of tough to really get locked in on one certain pitch,” Young said. “He had good velocity, good breaking ball, threw his off-speed stuff over. Any count, really. There were no patterns.”

The Phillies fell to 12-16, still 5½ games behind the Braves in the NL East and trailing seven teams in the wild-card standings.

“We had a good series against the Mets and the Indians beat up on us the two games in here,” Manuel said. “We won three and all of a sudden come back and lose two. They took it to us pretty good.”

Tonight's lineup: Ryan Howard batting cleanup, Cameron Rupp catching

Tonight's lineup: Ryan Howard batting cleanup, Cameron Rupp catching

Following a day off, the Phillies continue their roadtrip with the start of a three-game set with the New York Mets.

Ryan Howard will bat in the heart of the Phillies order with Cameron Rupp at catcher following the trade of Carlos Ruiz to the Dodgers. Meanwhile, the rest of the lineup remains mostly the same as it was prior to a brief two-game series with American League rules.

With Ruiz's trade, Howard is the last remaining member of the Phillies' 2008 World Series team. He'll try to throw back to that time against the ageless Bartolo Colon. 

Howard has good power numbers against Colon. He has just six hits in 28 at-bats, but has drawn three walks and has three home runs against the 43-year-old starter. There are only 18 pitchers he has faced more often than Colon.

At catcher, Rupp had already inherited the starting job from Ruiz, but he is now the backstop with more experience in Philadelphia. The Phillies called up prospect Jorge Alfaro for now, but he will likely remain on the bench and be sent down when A.J. Ellis reports this weekend. 

Rupp has five hits in 14 at-bats against Colon. He has faced only the Braves' Julio Teheran more times than Colon in his four-year career. The five hits are tied for his most against any one pitcher (Teheran).

Here's the full lineup that will oppose Colon and the Mets. 

1. Cesar Hernandez, 2B
2. Aaron Altherr, LF
3. Maikel Franco, 3B
4. Ryan Howard, 1B
5. Cameron Rupp, C
6. Odubel Herrera, CF
7. Freddy Galvis, SS
8. Peter Bourjos, RF
9. Adam Morgan, P

Phillies-Mets 5 things: Another chance to solve the ageless Bartolo Colon

Phillies-Mets 5 things: Another chance to solve the ageless Bartolo Colon

Phillies (59-68) at Mets (64-63)
7:10 p.m. on CSN

On Day 1 of the post-Carlos Ruiz Era, the Phillies are at Citi Field to begin a three-game series with the Mets. 

Let's take a look:

1. Quick audition for Alfaro
Jorge Alfaro will reportedly be called up by the Phillies in time for Friday's game against the Mets. He might not be up long, though, as catcher A.J. Ellis is expected to join the Phils this weekend.

Phillies GM Matt Klentak spoke Thursday night about the importance of receiving Ellis from the Dodgers in the Ruiz trade. Like Chooch, Ellis is known for his game-calling ability. With Cameron Rupp being more of an offensive-minded catcher, the need still exists for a vet like Ellis.

Alfaro is regarded as the top catching prospect in baseball by MLB.com, and he will likely be called up again in mid-September, but for now the promotion seems more need-based than anything else. The Phillies need a backup catcher until Ellis arrives and Alfaro was the only catcher other than Rupp on the 40-man roster. The move made sense.

2. Yet another meeting with Colon
The Phillies face 43-year-old right-hander Bartolo Colon for the fourth time this season and 13th time since he joined the Mets in 2014. 

Colon (11-7, 3.36) has lost fastball velocity each season since 2011. His heater averaged 91.7 mph that season and is all the way down to 87.7 this year. But he remains effective because he commands that fastball as well as any pitcher in baseball. Colon throws one of his two fastballs a whopping 89 percent of time. His pitch distribution this season has been 65 percent two-seamers, 24 percent four-seamers, seven percent sliders and four percent changeups.

The Phillies just haven't been able to solve Colon the last several years. In his starts against them as a Met, Colon is 8-3 with a 2.78 ERA and 1.12 WHIP. Nine of the 12 were quality starts.

Colon has a 2.25 ERA in four August starts, but he's been hittable. His opponents have hit .320 this month, but Colon has beared down with men on base.

Current Phillies have hit .229 against him with four home runs, three of which belong to Ryan Howard.

3. Morgan looks to build momentum
Adam Morgan has had a rough time in the majors in 2016, going 1-7 with a 6.21 ERA, but he's coming off his best start since early May. He allowed one run in six innings vs. the Cardinals last Friday. It was his first time pitching six innings in his last seven starts.

Morgan has faced the Mets just once, last season. He allowed five runs and 11 baserunners in 3⅔ innings.

Morgan has shown he's better than his opponents at Triple A, but in the majors he's had a lot of trouble retiring righties. They've hit .300 with 67 extra-base hits and an .887 OPS in 533 plate appearances. He's essentially made all right-handed hitters look like last year's version of Nolan Arenado.

4. Power at first
The Phillies' first base production has increased since the All-Star break as Howard has gotten hot. But Tommy Joseph continues to hit for power when given the opportunity to play, hitting his 17th homer Wednesday night in Chicago.

Since 2000, only seven players have more homers than Joseph in their first 75 games: Jose Abreu, Ryan Braun, Adam Dunn, George Springer, Albert Pujols, Trevor Story and Wilin Rosario. 

The Phillies lead the majors with 33 home runs from their first basemen. (Howard and Joseph have a combined 36, but three of them came when one was either pinch-hitting or DH'ing.)

Howard, by the way, is up to .199. A 1-for-3 game would get him above the Mendoza line for the first time since April 30.

5. This and that
• Setup man Hector Neris leads the majors with 64 appearances, but he's only getting better as the season progresses. In his last 18⅓ innings, he's allowed one run (0.49 ERA) and 11 baserunners (0.60 WHIP). He's struck out 26 and walked two.

• The Mets are third in the National League with 165 home runs but 13th in runs. It's a boom-bust offense that has gone bust far too often this season. The Mets rank 29th in team batting average (.241) and 27th in on-base percentage (.309).

• Yoenis Cespedes returned last Friday from a quad injury and has hit since, going 8 for 25 with three homers and two doubles.

• Travis d'Arnaud has always been a highly regarded catcher, and he's healthy now, but he's missed so much time over the last few years that the Mets can't be certain he's their catcher of the future. The 27-year-old was traded by the Phillies to the Blue Jays in December 2009 in the Roy Halladay deal and then shipped to the Mets three years later with Noah Syndergaard for R.A. Dickey. D'Arnaud showed flashes last season, when he hit .268/.340/.485, but he averaged 88 games in 2014-15 and has played in just 54 this season.

Phillies call up catching prospect Jorge Alfaro; likely for short stay

Phillies call up catching prospect Jorge Alfaro; likely for short stay

Prized catching prospect Jorge Alfaro is coming to the Phillies. But likely not for long.

Alfaro on Friday was promoted from Double A Reading to the majors, joining the Phillies in New York for their series against the Mets at Citi Field.

Alfaro, already on the Phillies' 40-man roster, is not expected to stick. He gets the call-up with the Phillies' trade of Carlos Ruiz on Thursday night. Veteran catcher A.J. Ellis, a part of the Ruiz deal, is not yet with the Phillies but is expected to join them this weekend.

Alfaro is a strong candidate to be called up again in mid-September once Reading is finished with the Eastern League playoffs, as explained in this week's Future Phillies Report.

The 23-year-old Alfaro was acquired by the Phillies from the Rangers in last summer's Cole Hamels trade. He's ranked as baseball's top catching prospect by MLBPipeline.com with Gary Sanchez having graduated to the Yankees.

Known for his power potential and big throwing arm, Alfaro has hit .279/.321/.442 with 13 home runs and 61 RBIs. He's thrown out 31 of 70 would-be base stealers, 44 percent.

CSNPhilly.com's Corey Seidman contributed to this post.