With Utley out, Phillies' bats come alive in win

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With Utley out, Phillies' bats come alive in win

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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.”

Instant Replay: Nationals 3, Phillies 2

Instant Replay: Nationals 3, Phillies 2

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The Phillies fell victim to a dominating pitching performance by Washington’s Max Scherzer in a 3-2 loss on Tuesday night.
 
Scherzer held the Phillies to two runs over eight innings. He walked one and struck out 11.
 
Scherzer has started against the Phillies eight times since signing with the Nats before the 2015 season. He is 6-0 with a 1.98 ERA in those games.
 
The Phillies had just three hits. They had just four in losing to the Nats on Monday night.
 
Starting pitching report
Jerad Eickhoff gave up three runs on five hits and three walks over six innings. He gave up back-to-back two-out doubles in the first inning and extended the inning with a walk before giving up another RBI hit.
 
He took the loss to fall to 9-13 in 27 starts. His ERA is 3.90.
 
Scherzer (15-7) opened the game with five no-hit innings. The right-hander has carried a no-hitter into the sixth inning in nine of his 61 starts with the Washington. He has reached double digits in strikeouts 12 times this season.
 
Bullpen report
Hector Neris and Edubray Ramos kept the game close.
 
Mark Melancon earned the save for Washington.

At the plate
Freddy Galvis broke up Scherzer’s no-hit bid with a leadoff double in the sixth. He was promptly picked off second on a bad boneheaded base running play.
 
Ryan Howard lined a two-run homer to left to get the Phils on the board and make it a one-run game in the seventh. Howard hit an 0-1 Scherzer fastball that registered 94 mph on the stadium gun. Howard had been 1 for 20 with 13 strikeouts in his career against Scherzer before the homer.
 
Howard’s homer was his 20th of the season. He has reached 20 homers 10 times. Only Mike Schmidt (14) did it more as a Phillie. Howard has 377 homers, tying him with Norm Cash and Jeff Kent for 73rd all time.
 
Bryce Harper, Wilson Ramos and Scherzer (with a safety squeeze) drove in the Washington runs.
 
An honor
One day after pitching seven innings of two-run ball against the Nationals in his fifth big-league start, Jake Thompson was named the International League’s Most Valuable Pitcher. Thompson went 11-5 with a 2.55 ERA in 21 starts for Lehigh Valley.
 
ICYMI
Manager Pete Mackanin is about to cut into Howard’s playing time so he can look more at Tommy Joseph (see story).
 
Up next
The two teams play the series finale on Wednesday night with a pair of lefties on the mound. Adam Morgan (1-8, 6.50) opposes Gio Gonzalez (9-9, 4.25).

The end is near: Pete Mackanin to cut back Ryan Howard's playing time

The end is near: Pete Mackanin to cut back Ryan Howard's playing time

Pete Mackanin has picked his spots with the pitchers he has let Ryan Howard face in recent months and that helped Howard carry post-All Star break numbers like a .306 batting average and .653 slugging percentage into Tuesday’s night game against the Washington Nationals and their right-handed ace, Max Scherzer.

Scherzer is the type of power arm that Mackanin often protects Howard from.

But despite awful career numbers — 1 for 18 with 11 strikeouts — against Scherzer, Howard was in the starting lineup at first base over Tommy Joseph on Tuesday night.

Listening to Mackanin explain his reasoning, one came away with the impression that Howard’s playing time is about to nosedive as he and the Phillies begin their last month together.

“Just to get him in there,” Mackanin said when asked why he was starting Howard against a pitcher who’d dominated him in the past. “I’m going to start using Joseph more. I’ll play [Howard] today and [Joseph] tomorrow and then I’ll lean on Joseph a little bit more the rest of the way.”

Why?

“To see him more,” Mackanin said. “I’m not saying I’m going to strictly play Joseph, but I have to get him as many at-bats as possible through the end of the season.”

Makes sense. The Phillies will part ways with the 36-year-old Howard after the season. Joseph, 25, has not won the first base job long term, but he has a chance to, especially if he can improve his on-base skills. His power numbers — 17 homers and a .500 slugging percentage in 250 at-bats — are excellent.

Mackanin was asked whether the decision to pull back on Howard’s playing time was his or whether it came down from above.

“It’s my own,” he said. “I think it makes sense to see Joseph as much as possible. Howie was swinging the bat extremely well. I’m just going to see if he can put something together against Scherzer. A lot of people don’t have good numbers against Scherzer anyway. Lefties at least hit him better.”

Mackanin said he wants to make sure Joseph gets plenty of at-bats against right-handed pitching down the stretch.

“I don’t want to happen to him what happened to [Darin] Ruf, where we didn’t have opportunities to get him at-bats,” Mackanin said.

While Mackanin wants to look at Joseph more, he has no intention to look at 23-year-old Rule 5 outfielder Tyler Goeddel more as the season winds down. Reserve Jimmy Paredes continued to get outfield reps with the start in left field on Tuesday night.

“I’ve seen enough of Goeddel to know — we’ve kept him this long and we’re going to keep him and we’ll see where we go next year with him,” Mackanin said. “I don’t see a need to play him, especially after he hasn’t played so much. What’s the point?

“Paredes, he’s an extra player. That’s why we got him. I’m trying to put some offense into the lineup and he’s been swinging the bat pretty well. Peter Bourjos is coming off his wrist injury; I’m just trying to get Paredes as many at-bats as possible to see if he can help us win games. But he’s not an everyday player right now here for us.”

Tonight's lineup: Ryan Howard starts despite awful numbers vs. Max Scherzer

Tonight's lineup: Ryan Howard starts despite awful numbers vs. Max Scherzer

Despite having awful career numbers against Max Scherzer, Ryan Howard is in the Phillies' lineup against him Tuesday night.

Howard, 1 for 18 with 11 strikeouts against the Nationals' ace, bats fourth. 

Howard seems to be coming back to Earth. He hit .357 with seven home runs, four doubles and 16 RBIs in his first 20 games out of the All-Star break, but has gone 2 for 16 with two singles and eight strikeouts since.

Jimmy Paredes gets another start in left field. Peter Bourjos is out of the lineup for a fourth straight game.

The rest of the lineup is standard. Odubel Herrera, who bats second, is 6 for 19 with five walks in his career against Scherzer (see game notes).

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