Phils fail to support Hamels again in loss to D-backs


Phils fail to support Hamels again in loss to D-backs


PHOENIX – One step forward, two steps back. That’s life these days for the Phillies, who suffered their 20th loss of the season Thursday night, a 2-1 defeat at the hands of the Arizona Diamondbacks (see Instant Replay).

If you’d like to add the word infuriating before the final score, feel free. This one fit the description -- for a lot of reasons.

First was the starting pitching. While it’s true that Cole Hamels did not have his best command -- he continues to walk batters at a rate uncharacteristic of him -- he battled and got outs when he needed them. He allowed just two runs in six innings and gave his team a chance to win, but the offense, as it often is when Hamels pitches, was pitiful.

Only one of the Phils’ six hits was for extra bases.

They were just 1 for 8 with runners in scoring position.

They made two baserunning mistakes that turned out to be super costly in a close game.

Hamels failed to turn a double play that might ultimately have helped prevent a run.

The D-backs weren’t a whole lot better. They were 0 for 12 with runners in scoring position, made a bad baserunning play of their own and scored both their runs on groundouts.

“The game was sitting right there for us,” said manager Charlie Manuel, whose team is 16-20. “We didn’t get it done.”

That’s a familiar refrain with Hamels on the mound. He is 1-5 and the Phillies are 1-7 in his eight starts. Hamels hasn’t pitched nearly as bad as that record. He has lost his last two starts by scores of 2-0 and 2-1. In April, he suffered a 2-0 loss and took a no-decision in a 2-1 loss. The Phils have scored just 17 runs while Hamels has been in the game this season.

Hamels has frequently said he’s gotten past the point of letting run-support issues frustrate him. He says he’s learned to focus on executing pitches and he’s not all that happy with that part of his game. He walked five batters (one intentionally) in this game to run his walks total to 22 in 51 1/3 innings.

“I’ve got to stop the walks,” Hamels said afterward.

Hamels did show some noticeable frustration in this game. In the fifth inning, he got mad at himself on the mound when he failed to start a double play on a comebacker to the mound with runners on first and second. The runners moved up when Hamels had to settle for one. The game was scoreless at that point with opposing pitcher Patrick Corbin coming up. The Phillies played the infield in for Corbin’s first swing -- a foul ball -- then moved it back. Corbin responded with a ground ball to shortstop Jimmy Rollins for a run. If Rollins had still been up, the run probably would not have scored.

“I pushed him back,” Manuel said. “I didn’t want them scoring two runs.”

Hamels showed frustration as that run scored.

“The frustration started with the ball hit to me and not catching it and getting a double play,” he said. “I ended up getting the ground ball I needed, but not the result.”

An inning later, Arizona eked out a run against Hamels on a heads-up drag bunt by Gerardo Parra.

Parra had a big game in right field. He gunned down Delmon Young trying to stretch a single into a double in the second inning and in the seventh turned a would-be RBI single by Kevin Frandsen into a fielder’s choice and a big out that stunted a potential Phillies’ rally.

With the Phils down, 2-0, Frandsen appeared to drop a soft liner into right field for an RBI single, but John Mayberry Jr., holding close to first in case the ball was caught by the second baseman, got a late jump to second and was forced out by Parra. One run scored on the fielder’s choice. In the end, it was a missed chance for the Phillies who would have had the bases loaded and one out with a run in if Mayberry hadn’t been nailed at second.

“It was a softly hit ball,” Mayberry said. “I was looking at the second baseman in pursuit of the ball. I thought he might have a play on it. When he lunged for it, I took a jab step back toward first because I didn’t want to get doubled off first. The jab step cost me.”

Manuel said, “In order for him to be safe he has to get a better read on the ball.”

Mayberry was hardly the only offensive culprit. Jimmy Rollins was 0 for 2 with runners in scoring position. He is 5 for 33 in those situations this season. Ryan Howard was 0 for 3 with two strikeouts against the lefty Corbin, who is now 5-0. Howard is 6 for 34 (.176) with 16 Ks against lefties this season.

As a team, the Phils are 3-5 against lefty starters this season.

One step forward, two steps back. Which way will the Phillies go Friday night?

Phillies Hall of Fame pitcher Jim Bunning recovering from stroke

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Phillies Hall of Fame pitcher Jim Bunning recovering from stroke

National Baseball Hall of Fame pitcher and Phillies great Jim Bunning is recovering from a stroke, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer.

Bunning, who suffered the stroke Tuesday night in his Southgate, Kentucky, home, was moved from intensive care to a transitional care unit on Thursday night, per the report.

Bunning "has been provided skilled care that is leading him on the road to recovery," the family said in a statement Friday.

"The Bunning family wants to thank the first responders and medical personnel who have been treating dad," the statement said. "We sincerely appreciate the thoughts and prayers of all who are concerned about our father’s health. However, so we can focus our efforts on dad’s recovery, we ask the press to respect our family’s privacy at this time. We will let everyone know as his health continues to improve."

The 84-year old is one of two Phillies pitchers to toss a perfect game in the organization’s history. He accomplished the feat on Father’s Day in 1964.

Along with the Phillies, Bunning played for the Tigers, Pirates and Dodgers in his 17-year career. The righthander, who was enshrined on the Phillies Wall of Fame in 1984, won 89 games and posted a 2.93 ERA in six seasons in Philadelphia. 

After his baseball days, Bunning started a career in politics. He served stints in Congress and the U.S. Senate before retiring in 2010.

MLB playoffs: Cubs advance to first World Series since 1945

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MLB playoffs: Cubs advance to first World Series since 1945

CHICAGO -- Cursed by a Billy Goat, bedeviled by Bartman and crushed by decades of disappointment, the Chicago Cubs are at long last headed back to the World Series.

Kyle Hendricks outpitched Clayton Kershaw, Anthony Rizzo and Willson Contreras homered early and the Cubs won their first pennant since 1945, beating the Los Angeles Dodgers 5-0 Saturday night in Game 6 of the NL Championship Series.

The drought ended when closer Aroldis Chapman got Yasiel Puig to ground into a double play, setting off a wild celebration inside Wrigley Field, outside the ballpark and all over the city.

Seeking their first crown since 1908, manager Joe Maddon's team opens the World Series at Cleveland on Tuesday night. The Indians haven't won it all since 1948 - Cleveland and Cubs have the two longest title waits in the majors.

"This city deserves it so much," Rizzo said. "We got four more big ones to go, but we're going to enjoy this. We're going to the World Series. I can't even believe that."

All-everything Javier Baez and pitcher Jon Lester shared the NLCS MVP. Baez hit .318, drove in five runs and made several sharp plays at second base. Lester, a former World Series champion in Boston, was 1-0 with a 1.38 ERA in two starts against the Dodgers.

Deemed World Series favorites since opening day, the Cubs topped the majors with 103 wins to win the NL Central, then beat the Giants and Dodgers in the playoffs.

The Cubs overcame a 2-1 deficit against the Dodgers and won their 17th pennant. They had not earned a World Series trip since winning a doubleheader opener 4-3 at Pittsburgh on Sept. 29, 1945, to clinch the pennant on the next-to-last day of the season.

The eternal "wait till next year" is over. No more dwelling on a history of failure - the future is now.

"We're too young. We don't care about it," star slugger Kris Bryant said. "We don't look into it. This is a new team, this is a completely different time of our lives. We're enjoying it and our work's just getting started."

Hendricks pitched two-hit ball for 7 1/3 innings. Chapman took over and closed with hitless relief, then threw both arms in the air as he was mobbed by teammates and coaches.

The crowd joined in, chanting and serenading their team.

"Chicago!" shouted popular backup catcher David Ross.

The Cubs shook off back-to-back shutout losses earlier in this series by pounding the Dodgers for 23 runs to win the final three games.

And they were in no way overwhelmed by the moment on Saturday, putting aside previous frustration.

In 1945, the Billy Goat Curse supposedly began when a tavern owner wasn't allowed to bring his goat to Wrigley. In 2003, the Cubs lost the final three games of the NLCS to Florida, punctuated with a Game 6 defeat when fan Steve Bartman deflected a foul ball.

Even as recently as 2012, the Cubs lost 101 times.

This time, no such ill luck.

Bryant had an RBI single and scored in a two-run first. Dexter Fowler added two hits, drove in a run and scored one.

Contreras led off the fourth with a homer. Rizzo continued his resurgence with a solo drive in the fifth.

That was plenty for Hendricks, the major league ERA leader.

Hendricks left to a standing ovation after Josh Reddick singled with one out in the eighth. The only other hit Hendricks allowed was a single by Andrew Toles on the game's first pitch.

Kershaw, dominant in Game 2 shutout, gave up five runs and seven hits before being lifted for a pinch hitter in the sixth. He fell to 4-7 in the postseason.

The Dodgers haven't been to the World Series since winning in 1988.

Pitching on five days' rest, the three-time NL Cy Young Award winner threw 30 pitches in the first. Fowler led off with a double, and Bryant's single had the crowd shaking the 102-year-old ballpark.

They had more to cheer when left fielder Andrew Toles dropped Rizzo's fly, putting runners on second and third, and Ben Zobrist made it 2-0 a sacrifice fly.

The Cubs added a run in the second when Addison Russell doubled to deep left and scored on a two-out single by Fowler.

Lineup shuffle
Maddon benched slumping right fielder Jason Heyward in favor of Albert Almora Jr.

"Kershaw's pitching, so I wanted to get one more right-handed bat in the lineup, and also with Albert I don't feel like we're losing anything on defense," Maddon said. "I know Jason's a Gold Glover, but I think Albert, given an opportunity to play often enough would be considered a Gold Glove-caliber outfielder, too."

Heyward was 2 for 28 in the playoffs - 1 for 16 in the NLCS.

Kerry Wood, wearing a Ron Santo jersey, threw out the first pitch and actor Jim Belushi delivered the "Play Ball!" call before the game. Pearl Jam front man Eddie Vedder and actor John Cusack were also in attendance. And Bulls great Scottie Pippen led the seventh-inning stretch.