Phils-White Sox postponed; DH set for Saturday

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Phils-White Sox postponed; DH set for Saturday

The surging Phillies will try to keep their successful homestand going on Saturday. Friday night’s series opener with the Chicago White Sox was postponed because of heavy rain.

Some housekeeping:

The Phils will play a separate-admission doubleheader on Saturday. Game times are 3:05 p.m. and 8:15 p.m.

Tickets for Saturday’s regularly scheduled game will be honored at the 3:05 p.m. game. The game had originally been scheduled for 4:05 p.m. Tickets from Friday night’s postponed game will be honored at the 8:15 p.m. game. The scheduled fireworks show will follow the night game.

Rookie right-hander Jonathan Pettibone, who was scheduled to start Friday night’s game, will start the Saturday afternoon game against White Sox lefty John Danks. Lefty John Lannan will start the nightcap against lefty Hector Santiago.

The big question heading into Saturday afternoon’s game is whether Chase Utley will start. Manager Charlie Manuel had planned to give his second baseman a rest Friday night. Utley had started 20 straight games since coming off the disabled list June 21. Manuel had Kevin Frandsen in the lineup at second base Friday night.

“You know, he’s been playing and he’s been running a lot, running, sliding, running the bases a lot,” Manuel said. “I thought it was a good time to give him a blow. And Frandsen can hit lefties. It’s definitely a good time to give him a break.”

Utley is hitting .280 (23 for 82) with seven doubles, a triple and four home runs since coming off the DL, but he’s just 6 for 27 (.222) in seven games on this homestand.

Friday night’s rainout could satisfy Manuel’s desire to get Utley a day off. Then again, it would not be surprising to see Manuel follow through with his original plan and get Frandsen some at-bats in the first game. Frandsen is 10 for 30 with a double, two homers and eight RBIs against lefties this season.

It’s easy to forget because Utley has moved so well this season, but he does have a degenerative knee condition, so an occasional day off can bebeneficial.

The Phillies have won three straight series, two against clubs (Pittsburgh and Atlanta) that were in first place when the Phils played them, and one against Washington. The Phils are 5-2 on this homestand and have pulled to within a game of .500 as management mulls whether to hold on for a second-half run or trade away some veteran talent. These next 12 games -- taking the Phils through July 28 -- will decide which way management goes.

In the meantime, a series win over the White Sox will send the Phillies into the all-star break with a .500 record and a sweep would put them over .500. They have spent one day above .500 this season.

“It would be real good if we could win a series before we go into the break,” Manuel said. “It’s what we need to do, start winning series. If you do that every day, you’re right there, you’re sitting in good position.

“We’ve got to play hard. We’ve got to outplay them. We’ve got to do the same thing against the Chicago White Sox as we did against Washington and the Braves. We’ve got to play as hard or harder. You don’t let up. You stay right at it.”

Pete Mackanin: Marlins pitcher Jose Fernandez was 'a helluva pitcher'

Pete Mackanin: Marlins pitcher Jose Fernandez was 'a helluva pitcher'

NEW YORK — The clubhouse mood following the Phillies17-0 loss to the Mets Sunday was somber, in part because of the disastrous game that had just wrapped up, but also because of the tragic news of Marlins star pitcher Jose Fernandez’s death in a boating accident early Sunday morning.

“It was rough. People are devastated. I didn’t even know him and I was crushed,” Phillies starter Jake Thompson said. “I can only imagine how that clubhouse feels. That’s something that I wouldn’t wish upon my worst enemy, to deal with something of that magnitude.”

Both teams paused for a moment of silence before Sunday’s game and the Mets taped a jersey bearing Fernandez’s name and number onto their dugout wall.

“This morning, that was quite a surprise,” manager Pete Mackanin said of the atmosphere of the day. “I don’t think it affected the players once the game started. It was such bad news this morning that everybody was kind of melancholy.”

Fernandez had built a strong track record against the Phillies in his young career, amassing a 2.88 ERA in six starts.

“It’s kind of cliché to say but you look at the start of his career and he could have been a Hall of Famer,” Thompson said.

Asked how he would remember facing Fernandez, Mackanin was succinct.

“He was a helluva pitcher,” he said.

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Phillies suffer worst shutout loss in modern era to Mets

Phillies suffer worst shutout loss in modern era to Mets

BOX SCORE

NEW YORK -- Jake Thompson faced the issues that a 22-year old starter in his 10th career appearance usually does Sunday against the Mets.
 
Thompson struggled with his command at times, walking the bases loaded in the fourth inning before escaping his self-induced jam with a flyout. He hit a batter and surrendered a home run to Curtis Granderson on a pitch that caught too much of the plate.
 
The righty departed after four innings in what manager Pete Mackanin declared postgame to be Thompson’s last start of the season.
 
But perhaps neither he nor the rest of the Phillies expected the extent to which his struggles would ripple through the bullpen. The Phillies’ relievers surrendered 14 runs, hit three batters and gave up a grand slam in a 17-0 loss, the franchise's worst shutout defeat in the modern era (see Instant Replay).
 
“Obviously the bullpen has scuffled for a while now,” Mackanin said. “That shows you how much the game is about pitching. It keeps you in games, gives you an opportunity to win like it did the first couple of months of the season for us. Now, the last month, it’s not keeping us in games or it’s losing games.”
 
The Phillies’ relievers were charged with 28 runs over the course of their four-game swing in New York. Their collective 4.69 ERA is the fourth-worst in the National League.
 
Sunday, Phil Klein — who hadn’t pitched since he was recalled from Lehigh Valley on Sept. 10 — and little-used Colton Murray and Patrick Schuster — who had combined for three appearances in the past two weeks — took the brunt of the damage.
 
Klein walked two batters, surrendered two singles and hit Mets catcher Rene Rivera in the left hand to force in a run. He left the bases loaded for Murray, who allowed an inherited runner to score on a wild pitch. Murray was pulled in the seventh having gotten into a bases-loaded jam of his own. His replacement, Frank Herrmann, allowed all three runs to score on a walk and a grand slam by Asdrubal Cabrera.
 
Schuster was assigned five runs in the eighth after he was tagged for three hits, walked a batter and hit Gavin Cecchini.
 
Which pitchers — if any — out of the Phillies’ cadre of middle relivers will return next year is an open question and Mackanin made it clear that he will use the remaining six games in the season to evaluate his team’s arms.
 
“It’s another audition.” Mackanin said. “We want to see who might fit in.”
 
Thompson can clearly stake a claim to his role in the Phillies’ rebuilding effort. Despite the hiccup in his final outing, he has come a long way in just two months from being the pitcher that surrendered six runs to the light-hitting Padres in his Aug. 6 debut.

His changeup — a pitch that hitters had connected on for six home runs this year, according to data from Fangraphs — was particularly lively Sunday. Cabrera chased it out of the zone in the first inning for Thompson’s only strikeout.
 
“I think the changeup’s probably been my best pitch up here,” Thompson said. “I’ve given up a lot of homers on it, too. That just shows whenever you don’t execute it, it’s a tough pitch to throw in the zone. As far as the swing-and-misses that I was getting with it, it’s kind of night and day.
 
“At this point last year I pretty much had no changeup, so that’s a big thing for me.”
 
Only 23 on Opening Day next year, Thompson has plenty of room to improve.
 
The Phillies’ bullpen does, too.

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