Unfazed by trade talk, Young powers Phils to win

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Unfazed by trade talk, Young powers Phils to win

BOX SCORE

To some, the trade deadline can be a distraction.
 
Not to Michael Young.
 
“I’ve been doing this since I was four,” he said. “Don’t get me wrong, I’ll be glad when it’s over. But I get peace of mind when I’m playing.”
 
Young, playing amidst a torrent of trade speculation, kept his eye on the ball, literally and figuratively, Tuesday night. His two-run home run in the sixth inning helped key a 7-3 win over the San Francisco Giants at Citizens Bank Park (see Instant Replay).
 
The win, of course, snapped an eight-game losing streak that caused clubhouse dissension and turned the Phillies into deadline sellers. All eight losses came on a road trip that concluded Sunday.
 
“It’s nice to get back in front of the home crowd,” Young said. “I don’t think they held that road trip against us too much. There’s no way around it. We needed a win and it’s nice we got one.”
 
Carlos Ruiz also smacked a two-run homer, his first of the season. Like Young, he is a candidate to be moved before Wednesday’s 4 p.m. deadline.
 
Cliff Lee and Jonathan Papelbon are also trade possibilities. Lee is a long shot to go because the Phils are asking for multiples of top prospects and a vital organ. Papelbon is a long shot to go because of poor recent performance and a high salary.
 
“I wouldn’t call the trade deadline a distraction,” Young said. “The bad part is we lost games to put us in this position. I’ve been on both sides of it. It’s nicer when you’re going to add.”
 
Though there are hurdles, Young is the most likely Phillie to be traded (see story).
 
“I don’t know what’s going to happen,” he said. “But I do know if something happens the Phillies will give me a call.”
 
The call would be a necessary precursor to a deal because Young has a full no-trade clause.
 
Manager Charlie Manuel has seen his team melt in the days before the trade deadline. He’ll be glad when it’s over.
 
“It has been a distraction,” Manuel said. “Very much a distraction. There’s been a lot of talk about it and that plays a part with how guys think and everything. I’ll be glad when it’s over.”
 
A crowd of 36,492 showed up.
 
“Being home helped,” Manuel said. “The atmosphere helped. Losing eight in a row … that’s a pretty good losing streak.”
 
The Phils’ previous six games (all losses) had been against first-place clubs. The Giants, who won the World Series last year, were easier opponents than St. Louis or Detroit. The Giants entered the game having lost 22 of their previous 30 games to fall into last place in the NL West.
 
Giants starter Barry Zito allowed four hits and five runs in 3 1/3 innings. He is 0-7 with a 9.97 ERA in nine road starts this season.
 
Meanwhile, Phillies starter John Lannan had what Manuel called “a John Lannan game.” The left-hander went seven innings and allowed three runs.
 
“He took us to a good place in the game,” Manuel said.
 
Antonio Bastardo and Justin De Fratus took the Phils the rest of the way.
 
Cody Asche made his big-league debut as a pinch-hitter and popped out.
 
Domonic Brown remains on the disabled list with concussion symptoms and could be out another week, Manuel said.
 
Despite being six games under .500 and 11½ games out in the NL East, Manuel presses on.
 
“We’ll come out and try to win tomorrow and see if we can’t get something going,” he said.

Tonight's lineup: Cody Asche starts in place of injured Roman Quinn

Tonight's lineup: Cody Asche starts in place of injured Roman Quinn

With Roman Quinn's season over with an oblique strain, Freddy Galvis moves up to second in the Phillies' lineup Wednesday night against the Braves.

Quinn's showing in the majors this month was a microcosm of his pro career to this point — he showed his speed with four steals and several infield hits, posted a .373 OBP in 69 plate appearances, but suffered another injury. Health has always been his roadblock.

With Quinn out, Cody Asche gets a start in left field against Braves right-hander Mike Foltynewicz, who he's homered off of. The presence of Quinn and Aaron Altherr has limited Asche's playing time — he's started only three games since coming back from Triple A on Sept. 10.

Asche bats seventh, a spot ahead of Aaron Altherr, who is 7 for 52 (.135) in his last 18 games and has four extra-base hits in his last 133 plate appearances.

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

Matt Kemp, who sat last night, returns to the Braves' lineup.

1. Ender Inciarte, CF
2. Adonis Garcia, 3B
3. Freddie Freeman, 1B
4. Matt Kemp, LF
5. Tyler Flowers, C
6. Dansby Swanson, SS
7. Mallex Smith, RF
8. Daniel Castro, 2B
9. Mike Foltynewicz, P

Phillies-Braves 5 things: Ryan Howard's earned a job somewhere

Phillies-Braves 5 things: Ryan Howard's earned a job somewhere

Phillies (70-87) at Braves (64-92)
7:10 p.m. on CSN

The last two games for the Phillies have been about as ugly as it gets. After losing 17-0 on Sunday, they blew a six-run lead Tuesday as the bullpen continued to stumble toward the finish line.

1. No relief in sight
Pete Mackanin was peeved after last night's game and rightfully so. His relievers have an 8.03 ERA this month. Who can he even trust at this point?

The Phils have used 12 different relievers this month and only three — David Hernandez, Michael Mariot and Joely Rodriguez — have an ERA below 4.76. And even Hernandez, who has a 1.08 ERA in September, has allowed 16 baserunners in 8⅓ innings. 

Hector Neris, who Mackanin was saving last night for a save situation, is the most trustworthy option in the current bullpen. He's gotten outs most of the year, posting a 2.53 ERA and 1.07 WHIP with 100 strikeouts in 78⅓ innings. But even he has struggled lately, allowing runs in five of his last 10 appearances and walking 10 batters in his last 10 innings.

The Phillies will have money to spend this offseason and even if they don't spend it on A-list names, they could allocate some of it toward relievers who have better stuff than this bunch. Excluding closers like Aroldis Chapman and Mark Melancon, the free-agent reliever class includes decent veteran options like Brad Ziegler, Sergio Romo, Jim Johnson, Neftali Feliz, Fernando Rodney, Joe Smith and Brett Cecil, among others.

Giving one of those guys $6-8 million wouldn't stunt anyone else's development.

2. Stay a while
With the way these relievers have been batted around the last two games — 20 earned runs allowed in eight innings — the Phillies badly need some length out of Adam Morgan tonight. He hasn't given it to them in his last two starts, going just 9⅓ innings combined because of high pitch counts.

Morgan has been pretty good lately, though. Since returning to the majors on Aug. 14, he's allowed more than three runs only once in eight starts. He has a 3.86 ERA over that span, and if you exclude his poor outing against the Mets on Aug. 26, it's 2.92.

Morgan has missed more bats lately than we're accustomed to seeing. He matched a career-high with eight strikeouts in his last start, five starts after K'ing eight Mets. He's induced 25 swinging strikes in his last two starts. Over his last six outings, Morgan has a swinging strike rate of 12 percent; the MLB average for starting pitchers is 9.5 percent.

Morgan has faced the Braves twice this season. Both games were in May and he pitched well in each of them, allowing one run over seven innings and two over six. 

Morgan's season numbers are still ugly (2-10, 5.57 ERA), but it's pretty clear he's been a different pitcher since learning a two-seam fastball and coming back to the majors. Whether that holds up long-term remains to be seen, but Morgan is the rare Phillies pitcher finishing 2016 better than he started it.

3. Piece of the action
Ryan Howard continues to produce in his final days with the Phillies. He hit a grand slam last night for his 24th homer of the season and third in his last five games. 

Howard has homered 12 times since the All-Star break, equaling his output from the first half. And look at his numbers since July 7, a span of 44 games and 136 plate appearances: .266/.331/.621, 13 homers, 31 RBIs. He's locked in.

Howard can still do damage against right-handed pitching. He has 23 homers off of them in 313 plate appearances. Over the last 11 seasons, the only other player in baseball with that many homers off righties in so few plate appearances was Mark Teixeira in 2015. 

You mean to tell me an American League team can't use him next season in a role that only accentuates his strengths and mitigates his weaknesses?

Howard will play again tonight and likely in all of five of the Phils' remaining games. He's 3 for 4 with a homer off tonight's opponent, Braves right-hander Mike Foltynewicz.

4. Scouting Folty
Foltynewicz, a power-armed 24-year-old, was the Braves' return in the Evan Gattis-to-Houston trade prior to 2015. He's a classic case of a big, straight fastball not translating to success.

In 223⅔ innings in the majors, Foltynewicz has a 4.99 ERA and 1.46 WHIP. He's allowed 1.5 homers per nine innings (bad) and his opponents have hit .289.

Foltynewicz has a 7.62 ERA in three career meetings with the Phillies. They jumped him the last time they saw him, July 5, homering four times in his 5⅔ innings. 

Current Phillies are 15 for 43 (.396) off Foltynewicz. Howard, Tommy Joseph, Maikel Franco, Cody Asche and Peter Bourjos have all taken him deep.

Foltynewicz (8-5, 4.41) hasn't pitched since Sept. 12, when he allowed five runs on 11 hits to the Marlins in just 3⅔ innings.

5. This and that
• Roman Quinn's season is almost certainly over after he suffered an oblique strain last night. If that's the case, he'll finish his first taste of the majors with a .263/.373/.333 batting line, five steals and four doubles in 69 plate appearances. Quinn looks like a significant part of their future, but the Phillies really can't move other pieces around for him because of his lengthy injury history.

• Freddie Freeman in 17 games against the Phillies this season: .381 BA, five doubles, six homers, 11 RBIs, 17 runs, 10 walks. He's had a tremendous season in all aspects, but the most impressive stat might be that he's hitting .307 against righties and .307 against lefties. Prior to this season he was a .300 hitter vs. righties and a .260 hitter vs. lefties.

• Last night's two-hour rain delay probably cost Jerad Eickhoff a chance at reaching 200 innings. He's scheduled to start the final game of the season but would need to pitch 8⅔ innings to reach that plateau.

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