Power arms & bats give Phils second straight win

slideshow-phillies-asche-mayberry-uspresswire.jpg

Power arms & bats give Phils second straight win

BOX SCORE

The power went on at Citizens Bank Park on Monday night.

John Mayberry Jr. belted a three-run home run and Carlos Ruiz added a solo shot in the Phillies’ 5-4 win over the Colorado Rockies (see Instant Replay).

The power didn’t stop in the batter’s box.

Starting pitcher Ethan Martin’s fastball was hitting 95 mph early in the game, and later on reliever Jake Diekman flashed a pair of 99s.

That’s Billy Wagner territory.

Power bats. Power arms. It’s a pretty good combination and it helped the Phillies win consecutive games for the first time in a month.

The Phils are 2-2 under interim manager Ryne Sandberg. He will get the job full-time if the club continues to show the life it did in this game.

The game’s high point came in the eighth inning when Sandberg brought Diekman into a one-run game to face possible future Hall of Famer Todd Helton with one out and men on first and second.

Diekman is a left-handed reliever that brings to mind the old baseball adage about nice guys. You like them to marry your daughter, but you don’t necessarily want them on the field during crunch time when a little nastiness comes in handy. Diekman is as nice a guy as there is in that clubhouse, but he doesn’t have much pit bull in him. He often looks a little nervous on the mound.

But against Helton, Diekman turned into a pit bull. He attacked Helton and struck him out on three pitches -- slider, fastball (96), fastball (98). That’s three major-league pitches if Diekman can command them.

After the game, Diekman was hilarious talking about facing Helton. His first thought about the assignment was:

“Holy crap,” he said.

And after the strikeout?

“It was good,” he said. “It was a big point in the game.”

Diekman thought he’d be out of the game after getting the lefty-hitting Helton, but this is “find out” time for Phillies officials -- they’re trying to find out who might be able to help next season -- so Sandberg stuck with Diekman as right-handed hitting Nolan Arenado came to the plate.

Diekman had a little mishap as he faced Arenado. He balked on the 1-2 pitch, then came back with some anger and fired two 99-mph pitches, the second of which was strike three.

“Diekman really preserved the game,” Sandberg said.

Sandberg said he didn’t know that Diekman had a 99-mph fastball in there.

Bullpen mate Justin De Fratus, who came up in the Phils’ system with Diekman, knew his pal had that type of heat.

“I’ve seen it,” De Fratus said. “It’s in there. He threw the hell out of it. Don’t be surprised if you see triple digits out of him.”

A reporter joked that Diekman should pay off the radar gun man and get that one more tick for 100 mph. The idea sounded appealing to Diekman.

“It’s just one guy behind home plate, right?” he said.

De Fratus also got two outs with two runners on base. Jonathan Papelbon completed the bullpen’s strong night with his first save since July 11.

De Fratus and Diekman are two of many players trying to open eyes for next season. They did in this game.

“You put them in opportunities like tonight and let them learn from it,” Sandberg said. “When they do what they did tonight it’s a huge boost for their confidence.”

Luis Garcia provided the only blemish on the bullpen’s record in the game. He allowed two runs in the eighth, but his troubles set up a meat-grinder situation that proved to be a good experience for Diekman.

Martin did a good job keeping his pitch count in check early and pitched into the seventh inning. It was the first time he went past the fifth in four big-league starts. Martin allowed four hits and two walks. He struck out six. He did not give up a run until Troy Tulowitzki smacked a hanging breaking ball into the left-field seats to lead off the seventh.

“He looked nice and calm out there,” Sandberg said of Martin. “He mixed his pitches, which is important for him. He wasn’t just relying on his fastball.”

Pete Mackanin maintains positive outlook even though Phillies now have worst record in majors

Pete Mackanin maintains positive outlook even though Phillies now have worst record in majors

BOX SCORE

On the surface, it might appear that the Phillies were done in by one bad inning on Wednesday night. After all, they suffered a 7-2 loss at Citizens Bank Park and the visiting Colorado Rockies scored all of their runs in one hellacious burst in the third inning (see Instant Replay).

But there was more to the loss than just one poor inning by starting pitcher Jeremy Hellickson. The Phillies came to the plate in nine innings against the Rockies pitchers and managed hits in only two of them while finishing the game with just three. It was the third time in the last four games — all losses — that the Phillies have mustered just three (expletive deleted) hits. Through the first seven innings in this one, they were out-hit, 11-1.

"Well, once again, three hits," manager Pete Mackanin said afterward. "Not a whole lot of good to talk about."

No, there wasn't. Hasn't been for a while. The Phillies have lost five in a row, 9 of 10 and 20 of their last 24 games. Wednesday night's loss left them with the worst record in the majors at 15-29.

"There's a lot of baseball left, and I know we're better than this," Mackanin said. "We just have to have some kind of spark to get out of it. Win a couple in a row and it could put us on a winning streak."

It's not going to be easy to start the winning streak in Thursday's series finale against Colorado. The Rockies have the best record in the National League at 31-17 and they have outscored the Phillies, 23-5, in the first three games of the series.

That's a serious beating.

"They have some really good hitters in that lineup and it's a deep lineup, too," Hellickson said. "There are no easy outs."

Conversely, there have been many easy outs in the Phillies' lineup in this series. The Phils did not get their first hit Wednesday night until Andrew Knapp singled with two outs in the fifth inning. The Rockies' starting pitchers in this series have held the Phils to two runs in 20 innings. And two of those pitchers were rookies, Jeff Hoffman and German Marquez. Tyler Chatwood pitched seven shutout innings Wednesday night.

The Phillies' starting pitching in the month of May has been brutal. Phillies starters have a 6.39 ERA in the month, second worst in baseball over that span.

The team is 4-17 in the month.

"It's been kind of surprising," Mackanin said of the rotation's problems this month. "I know they're better than that. We're going to put something together. I believe that."

Hellickson went 4-0 with a 1.80 ERA in five starts in April. He's been a different pitcher in May. His ERA in the month is a hefty 7.30 in five starts. The difference in the months: Hellickson located his finesse repertoire down in the strike zone in April. He's been up in the zone in May. On Wednesday night, Rockies hitters fought off his middling fastball and didn't miss his soft stuff because it was up. Carlos Gonzalez had the big hit against Hellickson in the Rockies' seven-run third. He jumped out of his shoes to hack at a 2-1 changeup and hit it for a three-run home run.

"He had poor command of his changeup," Mackanin said. "He was yanking his changeup, not locating it. That's his out pitch. He didn't have it tonight.

"He's had a lot of good starts for us. When he doesn't locate, he gives up a run here or there, but he kind of gets it back. For that one inning, it fell apart on him."

Hellickson allowed eight baserunners on six hits and two walks in the Rockies' seven-run third inning. He gave up a double, a triple, a homer and three singles in the frame.

"I beat myself that inning by falling behind and walking too many," the pitcher said. "When I did make a good pitch, they found a way to get hits off those, too."

This is the third straight season that the Phillies have endured a 4-20 stretch.

"It's not easy," Hellickson said. "It's not fun. It's just something you deal with. It's not fun."

During this stretch, Mackanin has benched his cleanup hitter, Maikel Franco (see story). Otherwise, he has kept his sanity.

"I remember when I took over in '15, the team was scuffling, really not playing well," Mackanin said. "Then something clicked and we started beating teams. Last year, we had a good first part of the season and then kind of scuffled at the end. Sometimes one little thing clicks and you get better.

"In a long season, these things sometimes happen. I remember Atlanta, the first half last year, was terrible. They had a real good second half. I believe we just need to get something going. We're going to put something together. I believe that."

Best of MLB: Chris Sale misses strikeout record, but Red Sox rally for win

Best of MLB: Chris Sale misses strikeout record, but Red Sox rally for win

BOSTON -- Dustin Pedroia waved home the tiebreaking run on a wild pitch, then singled in two more during Boston's seven-run seventh inning on Wednesday night and the Red Sox beat the Texas Rangers 9-4 for their third straight victory.

Chris Sale (5-2) struck out six, falling short in his attempt to become the first pitcher in baseball's modern era to strike out at least 10 batters in nine straight games in one season. He allowed three earned runs, six hits and a walk in 7 1/3 innings and received more runs of support in the seventh inning alone than in any previous game this season.

Sam Dyson (1-5) faced seven batters in relief of Martin Perez and gave up four hits, three walks -- two intentional -- and a wild pitch without retiring a batter. Mike Napoli homered for Texas, which has lost three of four to follow a 10-game winning streak (see full recap).

Ellsbury hurt as Yankees blank Royals
NEW YORK -- Helped by a great first-inning catch that forced center fielder Jacoby Ellsbury from the game with a concussion and sprained neck, Luis Severino won for the first time in a month and led the New York Yankees over the Kansas City Royals 3-0 on Wednesday night.

On the first pitch of the game, Ellsbury sprinted 107 feet and raised his glove above his head to catch Alcides Escobar's fly. Ellsbury's head jarred into the wall as the ball landed in his glove, and he crumpled to the field.

Ellsbury was checked by manager Joe Girardi and head athletic trainer Steve Donohue and remained in the game, then was replaced by Aaron Hicks starting the second.

Didi Gregorius homered against Jason Hammel (1-6) leading off the third inning, Gregorius' seventh hit in a span of 12 at-bats.

His fastball reaching 99 mph, Severino (3-2) allowed four hits over eight innings, struck out seven, walked one and threw a career-high 114 pitches.

Dellin Betances struck out the side in a perfect ninth for his fourth save (see full recap).

Rendon, Roark help Nationals beat Mariners
WASHINGTON -- Anthony Rendon hit a three-run homer for his eighth of the season, Tanner Roark allowed a run over seven innings and the Washington Nationals defeated the Seattle Mariners 5-1 on Wednesday night.

Rendon has three homers and eight RBIs in the Nationals' two victories to open this three-game series.

Roark (4-2) completed seven innings for the first time in seven starts and held the Mariners to 1 for 7 with runners in scoring position.

Mariners rookie Sam Gaviglio (0-1) allowed all five runs -- one earned -- over six innings as the Mariners lost their fifth straight.

Seattle's Robinson Cano went 3 for 4, including an RBI single and a double that center fielder Michael Taylor's glove prevented from being a home run.

Rendon had gone 12 games without an RBI before the series. But after driving in five runs Tuesday, he drove in three more to help Washington grab a 4-1 lead in the bottom of the first (see full recap).