Take heart, Tyler, Phillies don't score for Hamels, either

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Take heart, Tyler, Phillies don't score for Hamels, either

BOX SCORE

PHOENIX – Tyler Cloyd received the quintessential welcome to the Phillies’ pitching staff on Friday night. He received little run support.

Another lousy performance by the offense in a 3-2 loss to the Arizona Diamondbacks also turned out to be Cloyd’s going-away present (see Instant Replay). He was sent back to Triple A after the game as the Phils recalled reliever Justin De Fratus. Because of off days, the Phillies can go with a four-man starting staff until May 21.

“They don’t need a fifth starter for a while, so I might as well go down and try to keep pitching well, and hopefully another opportunity will come,” Cloyd said.

The right-hander, filling in for injured Roy Halladay, allowed just two runs in 6 1/3 innings.

“He gave us a chance,” manager Charlie Manuel said. “He pitched well. He gave us a chance.”

Of course, the Phillies did not cash in on that chance and a trip that started with so much promise with two wins in the City by the Bay has turned into a disaster in the desert. The Phils have lost three in a row to fall to 16-21. They have scored just three runs the last two nights.

Lack of offense puts tremendous pressure on a pitching staff. One or two swings of the bat late in the game can be huge difference-makers. They were in this one.

The Phillies scored two quick runs on Ian Kennedy in the first inning, but got nothing the rest of the night. Cloyd took a 2-1 lead to the mound in the bottom of the seventh. He gave up a one-out hit to Cody Ross and was lifted for lefty Antonio Bastardo.

The first batter that Bastardo faced was Jason Kubel. He flied out deep to center, so deep that Ross was able to move to second on Ben Revere’s weak arm. That was a big play because it put the tying run in scoring position for Martin Prado.

Prado had been hitless in his previous 29 at-bats with a runner in scoring position, but on the eighth pitch of the at-bat delivered a game-tying RBI single to right-center.

With first base open, Manuel could have had Bastardo walk the right-handed hitting Prado and gone after left-handed hitting Miguel Montero, who entered the game hitting .198.

“I thought about that,” Manuel said. “But we thought Bastardo could get Prado swinging at something down. And if we walked him we’d be putting the go-ahead run on and he could score from first in this park.”

In a 2-2 game, Prado was caught stealing to end the seventh inning. That meant Montero would lead off the bottom of the eighth. Instead of sticking with Bastardo on the lefty, Manuel went to Mike Adams. Montero hit the first pitch off the right-field foul pole to give Arizona a 3-2 lead.

Manuel went to Adams “because he’s our eighth-inning guy.”

Montero hit a changeup.

“I left it up,” Adams said. “He took advantage of a mistake. You make mistakes like that and it costs you. Tyler did the job and gave us a chance to win.”

Adams is right: Mistakes cost you. They especially cost a pitching staff when it has no margin for error because the offense stinks.

Four of the Phillies’ seven hits came in the first inning. They may have scored more than two runs in the inning if Chase Utley didn’t hesitate rounding second as he tried to stretch a double into a triple. He was cut down. The Phils got just three hits after the first inning. One of them came as they tried to rally in the ninth. They got runners to second and third with one out, but David Hernandez retired Laynce Nix and Jimmy Rollins to end the game. The Phils finished 1 for 7 with runners in scoring position. They are 2 for 15 in those situations the last two nights.

Ooh, that smell.

Twins 4, Phillies 2: Aaron Nola encouraged by good health, still looking for command

Twins 4, Phillies 2: Aaron Nola encouraged by good health, still looking for command

BOX SCORE

CLEARWATER, Fla. -- Aaron Nola has not had a great spring.

But in the big picture, well, maybe he has.

Nola was one of the Phillies' biggest and most important question marks coming into camp. He had missed the final two months of the 2016 season because of an elbow injury. All he needed to do this spring to be in the starting rotation was show that he was healthy.

He's done that.

He pitched 5 2/3 innings against the Minnesota Twins and threw 82 pitches in his fifth start of the spring on Thursday. He gave up six hits, including a two-run homer, walked one and struck out six.

He's up to 17 2/3 innings for the spring -- without an elbow issue.

"I'm over that," Nola said after the game. "My elbow feels really good. I haven't had any pain or problems with it. I don't even think about it throwing or in games.

"Everything has been very positive. My body is healthy."

Nola, who lines up to fill the fifth spot in the Phillies' rotation, hasn't had good results this spring. He has given up 19 hits and 13 earned runs. But, again, the Phillies were only looking for good health.

"He's been working on his changeup," manager Pete Mackanin said. "Today, he threw more changeups than I've ever seen him throw. The changeup he threw for the home run, he admitted, 'I would never throw that pitch in a game.' But he's working on it, trying to get it going for him, and I think it's going to be a good pitch for him. 

"He really pitched better than the result he got. He had a lot of work with his changeup, which is important. He was as sharp as we've seen him."

Coming into camp, Mackanin was concerned about Nola's health.

"I'm less concerned right now," the manager said. "It's always going to be in the back of my mind. But it's good to see 92, 93, 94 (mph) coming out of his hand, which is important. Once he regains that command, and he showed real good command of his fastball down in the zone today, he's going to be back to where he was -- with even maybe a little more velocity. We'll see. But the changeup is going to help him. I'm very encouraged."

The game
The Phillies lost, 4-2, to the Twins.

The Phils had 10 hits, two by Odubel Herrera, who homered.

Andrew Knapp, pushing to make the club, started behind the plate and had a double.

The Phillies were just 1 for 8 with runners in scoring position and left nine men on base.

The Phils' bullpen -- Sean Burnett, Edubray Ramos and Hector Neris -- accounted for 3 1/3 innings of scoreless ball.

Up next
The Phils play the Yankees in Tampa on Friday. Jeremy Hellickson will start against CC Sabathia.

Larry Bowa, Charlie Manuel reflect on special bond with Dallas Green

Larry Bowa, Charlie Manuel reflect on special bond with Dallas Green

CLEARWATER, Fla. -- An impromptu homage to Dallas Green broke out on the field at the Phillies' spring training home Thursday morning.

Larry Bowa, who played for Green on the 1980 World Series championship team, was there.

So was Charlie Manuel, the only other manager other than Green to lead a Phillies team to a World Series title.

They told tales of Green's tough exterior and warm heart.

Bowa even shed a tear.

A couple of hours later, there were a few more tears in the stands as the team honored Green with a moment of silence the day after he died at 82.

Green's old jersey, No. 46, hung in the dugout for the Phillies-Twins game.

"It was tough last night," Bowa said. "I just couldn't believe it. This guy meant the world to us. We don't win a World Series without Dallas. It doesn't matter if we've got 10 Pete Roses, we don't win a World Series without Dallas. 

"He taught me a lot about being mentally tough and giving everything you have, every pitch, nine innings. Never quit. He was a guy that told our team, 'Look in the mirror. You're not as good as you think you are.' He said, 'Anybody can win divisions, go win a World Series. Put a ring on somebody's finger.'"

The Phillies had great talent in the late 1970s but always came one step short of the World Series. Green came in late in the 1979 season and was a stun gun to a complacent team. A year later, they were World Series champions.

"He said, 'I don't care what you did yesterday. What can you do today to help the Phillies win?' He got everybody's attention," Bowa said. "Yeah, we had a lot of give and take, screaming. I think everybody respected him. That's the bottom line. Eventually, when you get done playing, you realize how important he was to the Phillies in 1980."

Bowa was a critic of Green's in the lead up to the World Series. He recalled the give and take with the manager, which wasn't always sugar and spice and everything nice.

After one particularly poor game, Green left his office door open as he spoke with reporters. During the interview session, Green loudly questioned the team's desire and said the group was not as good as it thought it was. The players in the clubhouse heard it all because Green wanted them to -- and, of course, because his voice naturally boomed.

After Green's session with the media that night, a reporter approached Bowa and asked if he'd heard Green's loud commentary.

Of course, Bowa had heard it.

And he was fired up.

"Go ask Dallas how many games he won in the big leagues," Bowa told the writer, poking at Green's modest 20-22 record as a big-league pitcher.

When the writer informed Green of Bowa's barb, Green responded with a loud, "Touche, Bo. Touche."

"He wanted you to hear things," Bowa said.

That was one of his ways of challenging people. And he really liked to challenge players. It was his way of inspiring and separating the weak from the strong.

Manuel compared that to one of his former managers, Billy Martin.

"He was like a Billy Martin kind of guy," Manuel said. "He'll tell you what he expects out of you, but at the same time, he'll tell you that you can't do something. That's a big challenge to you. When you show him that you can do it, that's when he's on your side and he thinks the world of you. That's the time you become his guy."

Manuel became Green's guy after the two had a public spat in 2006. In a radio interview, Green, then a member of the team's front office, had criticized the way Manuel's Phillies were playing. In particular, he said the team lacked fundamentals. Manuel was furious that a member of the front office would criticize him publicly. A month or so later, as the Phillies rallied themselves into wild-card contention, Manuel and Green came face to face on the field before a game at Citizens Bank Park.

Manuel unloaded on Green.

And Green took his medicine.

From that confrontation, respect and understanding grew. Manuel and Green became great friends and frequent dinner partners. A few years later, Green admitted to a reporter that he was wrong for scuffing Manuel and he thanked Manuel for showing him that there are other ways to run a team than just the way he did it.

"I showed him," Manuel said. "When I look back, maybe he was testing me. But I understood him and I think at the end he felt he understood me."

On the night the Phillies won the World Series in 2008, Manuel and Green, members of an elite, two-man club, sat in Manuel's office and reflected.

"He was very happy," Manuel said. "Him and I had a few drinks of VO. I think I outdrank him, really. But, of course, when he won back in 1980 he would have outdrank me.

"Everything about it was good. He was just as happy as I was and I can't tell you how happy I was.

"He was always around and he definitely pulled for the Phillies day in and day out.

"Baseball's going to miss Dallas Green.

"I'm going to miss him."