Phillies Outlast Padres in 13 Innings Thanks to Unlikely Contributions

Phillies Outlast Padres in 13 Innings Thanks to Unlikely Contributions

The Phillies might want to send Logan Forsythe a thank-you note. After all, the Padres’ second baseman did gift-wrap this game for them.

Forsythe was charged not one, but two errors on the same play, allowing the Phils to score not one, but two go-ahead runs in the 13th inning. Jonathan Papelbon was able to convert his first save opportunity in four tries – second in his last six – to close out a 7-5 victory.

San Diego lefthander Tommy Layne hit Chase Utley to lead off the top half, and Domonic Brown worked a two-out, seven-pitch walk to put runners on first and second. Up came Ben Revere, who battled through an eight-pitch at bat of his own to put a ball in play.

Forsythe ranged to his left and got to the grounder with time, but took his eye off the prize and wound up booting it. Utley was busting it around third the whole way and would have scored anyway on the E4, but Forsythe compounded the mistake with a poor throw home that got away from catcher Nick Hundley. Brown came sliding in behind Utley, just in front of Layne’s tag.

While he wasn’t awarded a single RBI on the at bat, give Revere some of the credit for Forsythe’s troubles. His speed coming down the line clearly caused Forsythe to rush. It was a play the second baseman has to make, although not exactly routine, either.

Nice base running by Utley and Brown as well, something of a theme on Wednesday night. Utley and Delmon Young (yes, that Delmon Young) helped manufacture runs on the base paths in the first and second innings respectively, giving the Phils an early 2-0 lead.

Delmon also hit the two-run blast that knot the score in the bottom of the eighth, delivering a Luke Gregerson hanger to the Western Metal Supply Co. Kevin Frandsen had a hand in the Philly comeback with an RBI single in the seventh.

The rally was necessary because Cole Hamels was once again missing his best stuff. Cole was on the hook for five runs – four earned – in six frames of work, and headed for his 12th loss before his offense bailed him out. We’ll hold back on the praise for now, as a rescue mission for Hamels was long overdue.

For as much as we’ve ripped one of Major League Baseball’s worst bullpens, they came through as well. Five relievers in all combined to pitch seven innings of two-hit ball, and most important, kept the Padres off the scoreboard. J.C. Ramirez and Phillippe Aumont gave the Fightins two rounds each, while Jake Diekman, Joe Savery, and Pap handled the rest.

By virtue of their win, the Phillies took the series against the Padres 2-1. It was their second series victory out of their last three after previously dropping three in a row. They’ll pick it back up on Thursday with the first of four in Los Angeles.

Mackanin benches Maikel Franco and Michael Saunders as Howie Kendrick ramps up rehab

Mackanin benches Maikel Franco and Michael Saunders as Howie Kendrick ramps up rehab

Having seen his team's offense produce just six hits and one run in the previous two games, Phillies manager Pete Mackanin benched Maikel Franco and Michael Saunders on Tuesday night.

The benchings could last more than one game.

"I'm not going to tip my hand because I don't know what my hand is yet," Mackanin said. "I feel like I have to do something to get some offense in the lineup and there comes a point in time where I'm trying different things.

"At this level you've got to produce. You want to play, you've got to hit and they have to understand that. Nobody is here on scholarship."

Franco and Saunders opened the season hitting fourth and fifth, respectively, in the Phillies' batting order.

Entering play Tuesday, Franco was hitting just .221 with a .281 on-base percentage and a .377 slugging percentage.

Saunders was hitting .227 with a .273 on-base percentage and a .383 slugging percentage.

Franco was leading the team with 28 RBIs and tied for second with six homers, but his inconsistency and inability to harness his free-swinging approach was wearing on Mackanin. Franco swung wildly at breaking balls on Monday night and struck out twice. The 24-year-old third baseman has worked hard on developing a more disciplined approach with hitting coach Matt Stairs, but has been unable to consistently incorporate those adjustments into his game.

Mackanin said he was surprised by Franco's consistent struggles. He hoped the benching would take some pressure off the player.

"Befuddled is a good word," Mackanin said. "As much as he works in the cage and on the field in batting practice and does it right, when he gets in the game his head is still flying and his bat is coming out of the zone.

"You've heard me say this many times: Hitting is like riding a bike. I can't teach you to keep your head in there. I can tell you to do it, but you have to do it on your own and he's got to figure it out. Guys have to figure it out. They have to figure out how to get the job done. Whether it's cut down on your swing, choke up, use a different bat, use a different stance, do something different. If you make outs the same way over and over, it's not going to change."

Andres Blanco started at third base in place of Franco and Ty Kelly was in the lineup in left field with Aaron Altherr moving into Saunders' spot in right.

Quite notable was that on the same day that Franco and Saunders went to the bench, Howie Kendrick ramped up his rehab from an abdominal strain. He took batting practice outdoors for the first time since the April 15 injury. He could be ready for a minor-league rehab assignment later this week and be ready to play in the majors next week. Kendrick can play both corner outfield spots and both corner infield spots, so he could push Franco and Saunders for work if he hits and they continue to struggle.

Lifeless Phillies should call up red-hot Roman Quinn ... why not?

Lifeless Phillies should call up red-hot Roman Quinn ... why not?

The Phillies are a lifeless team right now.

For a while the starting pitching was the biggest issue, then it was the bullpen, now it's the offense. The Phils have hit .224 since May 12, which was when their 2-7 road trip began. 

Their .268 on-base percentage over that span is worst in the majors and their .613 OPS is better than only the Mariners.

Players up and down the lineup are slumping. Odubel Herrera has hit .207 with a .246 OBP since the ninth game of the season. Michael Saunders hasn't given them much at any point. Maikel Franco had an eight-game hit streak snapped Monday, but even still is hitting .221 with a .281 on-base percentage. 

At this point, why not bring up Roman Quinn and play him every day? It makes too much sense right now.

Daniel Nava went on the 10-day DL Monday with a hamstring strain suffered Friday in Pittsburgh. It doesn't seem to be a serious injury, but why not use the open space as an excuse to bring Quinn up for at least a few days and see what he's got?

Quinn could infuse some energy and life to the top of a sputtering lineup. Bat him second, play him in the corner outfield and see what happens. At the very least, he'd be a defensive upgrade over Saunders. At the most, Quinn's hunger to stick in the majors could result in a hot streak that sparks the top of the order the way Herrera does when he's hot.

Quinn is hitting lately at Triple A, batting .333 with a .424 OBP over his last 15 games. He showed last September that he can be an offensive catalyst with his ability to beat out infield singles, bunt for hits and spray the ball. Yes, he strikes out too much for a leadoff-type hitter, but it's just hard to see the downside of a call-up right now.

The argument against bringing Quinn up now is that it's too early to sour on Saunders, a player the Phillies signed in hopes of trading at some point. But think about how much Saunders would have to do to have worthwhile trade value. Yeah, you could flip him somewhere for a negligible return or some salary relief, but he'd have to be extremely productive for at least a month to get a team interested in trading a minor-leaguer of any value for him.

Pete Mackanin has tried many things to spark the Phils' lineup, moving Herrera and Franco down, sitting guys, challenging guys. The best solution, perhaps the only solution right now, might be a move made over his head to promote the Phils' speedy, switch-hitting outfielder who has a future with them so long as he stays on the field, which he has this season.

As for Rhys Hoskins and Jorge Alfaro, who have also hit very well at Triple A, they just happen to play the same positions as Tommy Joseph and Cameron Rupp, who have been the Phillies' most reliable bats the last few weeks.