With Utley out, Phillies' bats come alive in win

slideshow-052113-phillies-cloyd-howard-ap.jpg

With Utley out, Phillies' bats come alive in win

BOX SCORE

MIAMI – Charlie Manuel wasn’t about to kid himself.

In talking about the reasons for the Phillies’ bats waking up in a 7-3 win over the Miami Marlins on Tuesday night (see Instant Replay), Manuel cited the following:

• Better swings, especially from Delmon Young.

• Improved patience at the plate.

• And the Marlins’ decision to remove rookie right-hander Jose Fernandez after five innings.

“Maybe one of the best things was they took him out,” Manuel said with a laugh.

Fernandez, Miami’s 20-year-old phenom, had pitched 13 scoreless innings against the Phillies in two earlier starts this season. Tuesday night he allowed just one run -- a solo homer to Young -- before being lifted for a pinch-hitter in the bottom of the fifth. Marlins manager Mike Redmond’s decision made sense because his team was down 1-0 with a runner on third and the pinch-hitter, Jordan Brown, got the run home. Fernandez’s pitch count was also a factor in the decision. He was at 79 pitches and the Marlins are trying to be cautious with his workload so he’ll have the bullets to torment NL East hitters for years to come.

Regardless of the reasons behind Fernandez’s exit, the Phils were happy to see him go. They collected 10 hits and scored six runs against Miami’s bullpen. After scoring just four runs in the previous three games, that qualified as an explosion for the offensively challenged Phillies.

“It was good to see our guys get some hits,” Manuel said.

Tyler Cloyd was the beneficiary of that offense. In his second start filling in for Roy Halladay, Cloyd held Miami to two runs over seven innings. Cloyd now has as many wins as Cole Hamels, who has been a victim of criminally poor run support. When Cloyd left the mound after the seventh inning Tuesday night, he received handshakes and back pats in the dugout. Hamels was one of the first to congratulate Cloyd. It was not known whether Hamels whispered, “Why can’t I get some of those runs?” to Cloyd.

Cloyd was 1-4 with a 6.57 ERA in seven starts at Triple A this season. He is 1-0 with a 2.70 ERA in two starts with the big club. In 13 1/3 innings with the Phils this season, he has allowed 10 hits, four runs and five walks while striking out nine.

“I’m definitely keeping the ball down a lot better here than I was in Triple A,” Cloyd said. “Hopefully I can stay up here and get some more starts.”

Ryan Howard returned to the lineup after missing two games with a sore left knee. But as Howard came back to provide three hits and three RBIs, Chase Utley went down with a rib cage injury during batting practice. Utley was not available to reporters after the game. He will be evaluated on Wednesday. It would not be surprising to see him miss some time. Teams are usually very cautious with rib cage (oblique) strains because they can linger and become more serious if not treated aggressively at the outset.

“When he took a swing, he felt a little burn, a pain in his rib cage,” Manuel said. “Sometimes if you keep playing that can get more serious and you lose time. It’s hard to breathe, really hard to swing. We’ll see. Hopefully we don’t lose him for very long.”

Halladay, Mike Adams, Carlos Ruiz and John Lannan are already on the DL. Losing Utley would be a significant blow to the Phillies as they try to get to the .500 mark. Tuesday night’s win pushed them to two games under .500 for the eighth time since April 22. They have lost the next game each time.

Howard keyed a four-run seventh inning with a bases-loaded single that scored two runs. Jimmy Rollins, Ben Revere and Michael Young all reached base on infield singles ahead of Howard.

Howard’s three hits were encouraging. So, too, was the way Delmon Young swung the bat. He had entered the game hitting .192, but hit two balls with authority, a homer to left and a double to center. If he can get going ... well, you’ve heard that before. Actually, with the uncertainty surrounding Utley, it’s imperative that Young get going.

“We’re trying to get him to click,” Manuel said. “We think he can hit. He’s 27 years old. He’s got a lot of baseball left in him. It’s just a matter of him getting some more at-bats and getting going. That’s why we want to play him.”

Young said his timing at the plate was much improved.

“I was able to see pitches early and recognize them tonight,” he said. “We haven’t been scoring many runs and I haven’t been contributing like I’m capable of. This was good. Hopefully we can carry it into tomorrow and the rest of the trip because we’re going to need to score runs against the clubs we’re going to be playing.”

Cuban ballplayers mourn loss of Jose Fernandez

Cuban ballplayers mourn loss of Jose Fernandez

CHICAGO — Chicago Cubs outfielder Jorge Soler played with Miami Marlins pitcher Jose Fernandez when the two were growing up in Cuba. They traveled together to Venezuela for a youth tournament.

Soler said Fernandez's ability was obvious, right from the start.

"Since he was a child, since we were kids, I knew he had something," Soler said through a translator. "He had a talent. It was very impressive."

Fernandez's death in a boating accident at the age of 24 cast a dark shadow over the major leagues on Sunday. Miami's home game against Atlanta was canceled, and several ballparks observed moments of silence. Wrigley Field's iconic hand-operated scoreboard displayed Fernandez's No. 16 in its pitching column next to Miami.

But the loss of Fernandez was felt most acutely in baseball's growing Cuban community.

"He was one of those guys that everybody loved," St. Louis Cardinals catcher Brayan Pena said. "He was one of those guys that everybody knew exactly what he meant to our community. For us, it's a big, big loss. It's one of those things where our thoughts and prayers are obviously with his family, the Marlins' organization and the fans. But it gets a little bit closer because he was part of our Cuban family."

There were 23 Cubans on opening-day major league rosters this year, an increase of five over last season and the most since the commissioner's office began releasing data in 1995. Many of the players share similar stories when it comes to their perilous journey from the communist country to the majors, and the difficulty of adjusting to life in the United States.

A native of Santa Clara, Cuba, Fernandez was unsuccessful in his first three attempts to defect, and spent several months in prison. At 15, Fernandez and his mother finally made it to Mexico, and were reunited in Florida with his father, who had escaped from Cuba two years earlier.

He was drafted by the Marlins in 2011, and quickly turned into one of the majors' top pitchers.

"How he was on the mound was a reflection of him," Oakland first baseman Yonder Alonso said. "A guy who had a lot of fun, was himself. A very talkative guy, he would come into the room and you'd know he was in the room. Never big-leagued anyone, very professional. No matter what, he would talk to you about hitting, because he thought he was the best hitter, and he (would) talk to you about pitching, because he thought he was the best pitcher."

Alonso said Fernandez's death was "a big-time shock." Yasiel Puig used torn pieces of white athletic tape to display Fernandez's jersey on the wall in the home dugout at Dodger Stadium. Cardinals rookie Aledmys Diaz, who had known Fernandez since they were little kids, declined an interview request through a team spokeswoman.

"We Cuban players know each other well and all of us have a great relationship," Pena said. "For us, it's devastating news when we woke up. We were sending text messages to each other and we were showing support. It's something that obviously nobody expects."

Fernandez, who became a U.S. citizen last year, also was beloved for his stature in the Cuban community in Miami.

"He was a great humanitarian," Cubs closer Aroldis Chapman said through a translator. "He gave a lot to the community and I think that's why he got a lot of respect from the community in terms of what a great person he was and always giving, in terms of always willing to help out in whatever way he can to try to better and progress within the community someone that perhaps wasn't as fortunate as he was."

The 28-year-old Chapman lives in the Miami-area in the offseason. He said he spent some time with Fernandez while he was home.

"He would come by my house. I would go by his," Chapman said. "We would have long conversations. We would talk a lot. We spent a lot of good amount of time together. It was very special for me."

Phillies' clubhouse reflects on life of Marlins' Jose Fernandez

Phillies' clubhouse reflects on life of Marlins' Jose Fernandez

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.

Find great deals on Philadelphia Phillies tickets with TicketIQ. Buy cheap Phillies tickets with no hidden fees for all games on their 2016 schedule.