MIAMI Charlie Manuel thinks his team can make a playoff push in the second half. For that to happen, he believes his club must add something to the bullpen, and get a healthy Roy Halladay back.The second half of that equation looks promising.Halladay on Friday afternoon threw off a bullpen mound for the first time since going on the disabled list late last month with a strained lat muscle behind his right shoulder. Halladay threw 33 pitches and used his entire repertoire. Pitching coach Rich Dubee was encouraged. He said Halladay might be a little ahead of schedule in his recovery.Again, were talking about a different animal, Dubee said. He might be a few days quicker than the doctors thought, but his work ethic might have something to do with that.Dubee said Halladay had no discomfort.Hes progressing very nicely, Dubee said.Whats next?Dubee said he wanted to see how Halladay bounced back Saturday before scheduling his next bullpen session.Halladay last pitched on May 27. Initial estimates had him out six to eight weeks. The start of All-Star break would mark six weeks since Halladay went on the disabled list. If all continues to go well, its reasonable to believe he could return shortly after play resumes July 13. Ryan Howard could also return to the lineup about that time.Dubee did not rule out Halladays needing a minor-league start before hes activated, but he added that one would not be imperative.E-mail Jim Salisbury at firstname.lastname@example.org.
DETROIT — At least Odubel Herrera was honest about it.
“I didn’t expect to hit it that far,” he said with a big grin on his face late Wednesday afternoon.
Herrera unloaded on the hanging slider and finished with his bat high.
As the bat reached its apex, Herrera didn’t just let it go. He flipped it in the air as if to say, ‘Uh-huh, I crushed that one.’ In the annals of bat flips, it wasn’t quite Jose Bautista quality, but it wasn’t far off. The flip was so dramatic that Herrera admitted after the game that he would not have been surprised if a Tigers pitcher had retaliated and stuck a pitch in his ribs later in the game.
Retribution never came. And Herrera left Detroit with a smile on his face and yet another big day for the Phillies. He is leading the club with a .327 batting average and his .440 on-base percentage is second-best in baseball.
Herrera's big home run helped make a winner out of Aaron Nola and the Phillies on a day when they really needed a win. After all, they had lost four of their previous five and are headed into the den of baseball’s best team, the Chicago Cubs, on Friday.
“For me, it was a must-win,” said manager Pete Mackanin, whose club is 26-21. “We’d lost four of five and I felt like we needed to come out of here with a win.
“The guys battled the whole game. To me it looked like they played like they had to win this game, which was nice to see. It looked like they played knowing we had to win. They were grinding and coming up with hits. Call it what you want, it was just the feeling I got.
“I’m not going to say I’m anxious to see the Cubs; they’re a hell of a team. But I’m hopeful we can take two out of three.”
The Tigers are one of baseball’s best hitting teams.
The Phillies are one of the worst. They entered the day scoring just 3.2 runs per game.
But on this day, the Phillies out-hit the Tigers, 12-10, to salvage one game in the series.
Nola went six innings, allowed four runs, a walk and struck out six. He left with a 7-4 lead. Things got hairy in the seventh, but Hector Neris cleaned up things for David Hernandez, and Jeanmar Gomez registered his majors-leading 17th save.
In between, Peter Bourjos had a couple of big hits, including his first homer of the season. Andres Blanco started at second over Cesar Hernandez and had a couple of big hits, as well. Bourjos and Blanco even hooked up on a double steal with Blanco becoming the first Phillie to swipe home since Chase Utley in 2009. (An off-line throw to second by Tigers catcher James McCann helped.)
“We have to try things,” Mackanin said. “We can’t bang it out with most teams so we have to try that kind of stuff, take chances.”
The Phillies actually banged it on this day.
Bourjos’ homer in the seventh provided some valuable cushion.
There are no cheap homers in spacious Comerica Park. Bourjos’ homer traveled 401 feet according to ESPN’s play by play.
Though Bourjos claimed he did not see Herrera’s bat flip in fifth inning, he was aware of it. For the record, Bourjos did not flip his bat on his homer. He put his head down and ran.
“I don’t have that kind of swag,” he said with a laugh.
Bat flips make some folks, particularly old-schoolers, uncomfortable. Bautista’s famous bat flip against Texas in the playoffs last season led to simmering tensions all winter and eventually a brawl between the two teams two weeks ago.
Mackanin actually seemed a little uncomfortable talking about Herrera’s flip.
“I did not see it,” Mackanin said. “A lot of players believe that they should be able to celebrate. But I didn’t see it. I wish you never brought it up.”
Herrera explained that he always flips his bat, even when he makes outs. This one had a little extra oomph, he said, because, "I didn’t expect to hit it that far.”
And how far did he hit it?
Well, ESPN’s play by play said it traveled 409 feet. MLB’s Statcast said it went 427.
Either way, that’s a long Uber ride.
Herrera was asked what was more impressive, the flip or the homer?
“Both,” he said with a laugh.
Herrera has become a more demonstrative player in his second year in the league. He’s letting his emotions show. On Monday night, frustration over a poor at-bat got the best of him. He did not run out a ball back to the pitcher and was benched.
On Wednesday, his emotion was more triumphant, hence the bat flip. But sometimes that can make an opponent angry. There were no repercussions Wednesday and probably won’t be because the Tigers and Phillies don’t see each other again this season. But down the road?
“I’m not worried,” Mackanin said.
“It was nothing personal,” Herrera said. “It was natural.”
DETROIT — The Phillies have an off day Thursday.
It will come in handy for Maikel Franco.
The third baseman suffered what was termed a sprained right ankle while sliding into second base in the top of the seventh inning Wednesday. He hobbled off the field before the start of the bottom of the inning.
After the game, both Franco and manager Pete Mackanin stressed that the sprain was mild.
Franco received treatment after coming out of the game and he will again on the off day. Mackanin said he would exercise caution in determining Franco’s availability for Friday afternoon, but did not rule out playing Franco.
Franco was adamant. He’s playing.
“It’s a little bit sore, but it’s fine,” he said. “It already feels better. I’ll be ready for Friday. With the day off, I know I’ll be OK.”
If Franco can’t play, Mackanin would insert super-sub Andres Blanco into the lineup. He had two hits, including an RBI double, and scored two runs in Wednesday’s win over the Tigers (see Instant Replay).
Franco had a pair of singles and is 7 for 15 in his last four games.
DETROIT – The Phillies beat the Detroit Tigers at their own game in picking up an 8-5 win to salvage one game in the interleague series on Wednesday afternoon.
Aaron Nola pitched well and earned the win. Odubel Herrera had a big hit and Hector Neris was clutch out of the bullpen.
The Tigers are one of the best hitting teams in baseball and the Phillies are one of the worst. But the Phils out-hit the Tigers, 12-10. Two of the Phils’ hits were home runs.
The Phillies entered the day scoring just 3.2 runs per game, ranking them second-to-last in the majors. The Phils had scored just 11 runs in their previous five games; four of them were losses.
The win left the Phils at 26-21 heading into Chicago for three games with the rugged Cubs.
Starting pitching report
Aaron Nola gave up seven hits and four runs over six innings of work. He walked one and struck out six.
Four of the hits and three of the runs Nola gave up came in the fifth. All the hits were singles and one could have been ruled an error. So Nola was not supported by completely clean defense.
The right-hander is 4-3 with a 3.14 ERA in 10 starts. He has 70 strikeouts and just 20 walks in 66 innings.
He is 6-1 in 13 road starts during his young career.
Detroit right-hander Anibal Sanchez took the loss. He gave up eight hits and six runs in six-plus innings. Three of the runs were unearned. The Tigers committed three errors.
David Hernandez inherited a 7-4 lead in the seventh. He allowed two hits, a walk and a run with one out and was removed from the game. Hector Neris came on and struck out Victor Martinez and Nick Castellanos to clean up Hernandez’s mess. Neris stayed on for a scoreless eighth.
Jeanmar Gomez earned his majors-leading 17th save.
At the plate
Peter Bourjos drove in two runs. He singled home one in the second and belted his first homer of the season in the seventh. The homer gave the Phils a 6-4 lead. Tommy Joseph increased the lead to 7-4 with sacrifice fly later in that inning.
Herrera had the big hit for the Phillies, a three-run homer in the fourth. He hit a 2-1 slider from Sanchez far over the right-field wall and scored Jose Bautista points with a big bat flip.
The Phillies scored their second run of the day when Bourjos and Andres Blanco executed a double steal. Blanco became the first Phillie to steal home since Chase Utley in 2009.
Cameron Rupp and Blanco had back-to-back doubles in the eighth to give the Phils some cushion.
Ryan Howard laced a hard, line-drive single to right his first time up then struck out in his next two at-bats. He finished 1 for 5 and is now hitting .160.
Every player in the Tigers’ lineup had a hit except Castellanos.
Maikel Franco limped off the field and out of the game before the start of the bottom of the seventh inning. He jammed his right foot sliding into second base in the top of the inning and was diagnosed with a sprained ankle. It was said to be mild.
The Phillies are off on Thursday. They open a three-game series against the Cubs at Wrigley Field on Friday. The Cubs are the first team in the majors to reach 30 wins. Here are the pitching matchups:
Friday afternoon – LHP Jon Lester (4-3, 2.60) vs. LHP Adam Morgan (1-2, 5.61)
Saturday afternoon – RHP Kyle Hendricks (2-4, 3.30) vs. RHP Jerad Eickhoff (2-6, 3.86)
Sunday afternoon – RHP John Lackey (4-2, 3.38) vs. RHP Vince Velasquez (5-1, 2.75)