Young arms help Phillies smother Red Sox


Young arms help Phillies smother Red Sox

Wednesday, June 29, 2011
Posted: 9:35 p.m. Updated: 11:30 p.m.

By Jim Salisbury


The Phillies have completed half of their season and over that time something has become quite clear:

This team is built on the backs of its pitchers.

But after a major league-best 51 wins in 81 games, this much is also clear:

There is more to this pitching staff than the Big Four, the Four Aces, the Dubee Brothers, The Rotation or whatever else you want to call the foursome of Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee, Cole Hamels and Roy Oswalt.

Witness the trio of Vance Worley, Mike Stutes and Antonio Bastardo. The Little Three combined to pitch the Phillies to a 2-1 win over the Boston Red Sox in the second game of a three-game series on Wednesday night.

Worley, a rookie right-hander, held the top hitting team in the majors to a run over seven innings and Stutes, another rookie, and Bastardo, a 25-year-old lefty who bounced between the majors and the minors the last couple of seasons, closed it out.

With two wins in two days over the Red Sox Lee shut them out on Tuesday night the Phillies have snapped an eight-series losing streak against Boston and are poised to sweep behind Hamels on Thursday.

Its gratifying to win the series, Jimmy Rollins said. But this game is over. We have to win the next one.

The Red Sox have lost six of their last seven games, scoring one run in their last two against the Phillies. After Wednesday nights game, Boston slugger David Ortiz admitted that he and his mates were a little overwhelmed by Worley, who has bounced between Triple A and the majors this season.

Did that guy just come up or something? Ortiz said after the game. Man, because he looked pretty good to me. He had decent stuff and it really looks like hes been around a long time.

Theyve got four big starters here, right? Well, he looked like one of them out there tonight. He really looked comfortable. Its obvious that hes listening to those big starters over there. Its rubbing off on him.

Worley watched Lees shutout from the dugout Tuesday night.

I said to myself, Great, I have to follow that, he said, tongue planted in cheek.

Worley followed Lees lead just fine, holding Boston to five hits and a run over seven innings. He allowed a game-tying double to his counterpart, John Lackey, in the fifth, but was bailed out by Raul Ibanez solo home in the seventh.

Worley was pushed into the rotation after injuries to Oswalt and Joe Blanton. He is 3-1 with a 2.60 ERA in seven starts.

In the days leading up to this start, Worley had heard all the chatter about this being a potential World Series preview. He knew the Red Sox had a loaded offense and a star-studded roster. Heck, he sent some baseballs over the visiting clubhouse to be autographed before Tuesdays game. But once his start arrived, the Red Sox were just another opponent and Worley was focused on winning.

I could feel the fans, he said. But for me, it felt like just another start. I felt the best Ive felt since Ive been here. Every pitch was coming out of my hand well.

Worley received a bit of a Charlie Manuel baptism in this game: He was allowed to pitch deeply into game, throwing 116 pitches, the most, he said, hed thrown since his days at Long Beach State. Get used to it, kid, Manuel likes to ride his starters.

Before the game, Manuel said the Red Sox would be a good test for Worley. After the game, the skipper pointed to the 23-year-old pitcher and said, Games like tonight will make you grow up, make you see how good you can be. It was good for his confidence.

Worley commanded his fastball well and mixed in his breaking ball and changeup.

I try to treat every game like its my last one, he said. I dont know how much longer Ill be here. I want to set myself up to be here as long as possible.

Worley can take heart. He has pitched himself firmly into this teams plans. The Phils hope to have Oswalt and Blanton back in a month or so, but nothing is certain. Beyond that, there seems to be a good chance that Oswalt will not be back next season. Worley could be an ironclad piece of the rotation next season.

Stutes, Worleys 2008 draft classmate, has also pitched himself into the teams long-term bullpen plans. He has allowed just eight runs in 25 23 innings since coming up from Triple A. Bastardo, who is closing while Ryan Madson recovers from a hand injury, had the save Wednesday night. He has been another find, allowing just three runs in 29 innings.

And to think, none of these three pitchers were bright lights on the radar screen entering spring training.

But halfway through what is shaping up to be a special season, all three have helped the Phillies run out to the best record in the majors.

There is more to this pitching staff than just the Big Four.
E-mail Jim Salisbury at Follow him on Twitter @JSalisburyCSN.

Tonight's Lineup: Ryan Howard (surprisingly) starts at 1B


Tonight's Lineup: Ryan Howard (surprisingly) starts at 1B

So much for trimming Ryan Howard's playing time.

One day after Phillies manager Pete Mackanin said he plans on giving 24-year-old Tommy Joseph more starts against right-handed pitchers, Mackanin flipped the switch Monday.

Howard is penciled in as the starting first baseman for the Phils' series-opener against the Nationals on Monday night at Citizens Bank Park against Tanner Roark (3-4, 2.71).

After the Phillies were clobbered by the MLB-best Chicago Cubs on Sunday — and the weekend, really — Mackanin said the Phils have to get a longer look at Joseph.

"We brought up Joseph up here for a reason, to get a look at him," the manager said after the Phillies' 7-2 on Sunday afternoon (see story). "I can't let him stagnate on the bench like (Darin) Ruf ended up doing, so he's going to face some right-handed pitchers to keep his timing."

Joseph will have to wait another day to get in the lineup. To be fair, Joseph did face five righties last week, but three of those came with the designated hitter in play.

For Howard, however, the club icon is in a major rut that has had many outsiders calling for him to retire or for the team to release him. He's hitting .154 with eight home runs and 18 RBIs in 136 at-bats and is 6 for 62 (.097) with 25 strikeouts in May.

Here's the silver lining, however. Howard is a career .333 hitter in 12 at-bats against Roark, who he's taken deep once and has six RBIs against.

The Phillies turn to Jeremy Hellickson (4-3, 3.97) to snap their three-game skid. He's faced the Nationals twice this season, allowing six — five earned — runs over 10⅓ innings.

Here is the Phillies' full lineup:

1. Odubel Herrera, CF
2. Freddy Galvis, SS
3. Maikel Franco, 3B
4. Ryan Howard, 1B
5. Carlos Ruiz, C
6. Cesar Hernandez, 2B
7. Tyler Goeddel, LF
8. Jeremy Hellickson, P
9. Peter Bourjos, RF

For more on tonight's game, check out Steven Tyding's game notes.

MLB Notes: Mets' manager Terry Collins worried David Wright might be headed for DL


MLB Notes: Mets' manager Terry Collins worried David Wright might be headed for DL

NEW YORK -- Mets manager Terry Collins is worried David Wright may wind up on the disabled list because of a neck injury.

New York's captain and third baseman was out of the starting lineup for the third straight day Monday because of his neck. He was given anti-inflammatory medicine over the weekend.

Now 33, Wright was on the disabled list from April 15 to Aug. 24 last year when he strained his right hamstring and then developed spinal stenosis. He has a lengthy physical therapy routine he must go through before each game.

Wright homered in three straight games last week before getting hurt. He is batting .226 with seven homers, 14 RBIs and 55 strikeouts in 137 at-bats.

White Sox: Shuck called up with Jackson injured
NEW YORK -- With Austin Jackson bothered by turf toe, the Chicago White Sox recalled outfielder J.B. Shuck from Charlotte and optioned right-hander Tommy Kahnle to the Triple-A farm team.

Jackson left Sunday's game in the eighth inning because of his left foot.

White Sox manager Robin Ventura said before Monday's series opener against the New York Mets that he doesn't think Jackson's injury at this point merits a move to the disabled list. He adds that the team does not "necessarily want to lose him for two weeks right away."

Shuck was batting fifth and playing center field Monday. He was 0 for 9 with the White Sox before he was sent down April 18 when Chicago needed to add a pitcher. He is hitting .299 at Charlotte with two homers and 17 RBIs.

Kahnle is 0-1 with a 2.70 ERA in four games over three stints with Chicago this season.

Phillies-Nationals 5 things: All eyes on Jeremy Hellickson


Phillies-Nationals 5 things: All eyes on Jeremy Hellickson

Phillies (26-24) vs. Nationals (30-21)
7:05 p.m. on CSN

After a 1-5 road trip that concluded with a sweep at the hands of the MLB-best Chicago Cubs, the Phillies return home to face another strong opponent in the NL East-leading Washington Nationals. Can a return to Citizens Bank Park be an answer to the Phillies' woes?

Here's that and everything else you need to know for the Phils' Memorial Day showdown with the Nationals:

1. Power outage
The Phillies started last week 25-19 but ended it just two games over .500 after getting outslugged by the Tigers and Cubs. In the Cubs' series, the Phils mustered just five runs.

Through 50 games, the Phillies are averaging just 3.2 runs, narrowly ahead of the MLB-worst Atlanta Braves. Manager Pete Mackanin is taking some steps to rectify that, namely reducing Ryan Howard's playing time so the team can get a good look at rookie first baseman Tommy Joseph (see story).

Joseph alone won't be able to get the Phillies on the right track. The Phillies need to start getting more contributions throughout the lineup. Leadoff man Odubel Herrera is batting .320 and Tyler Goedell is hitting .313 in May, but those two have been the only other bright spots in the Phils' lineup recently.

While the Phillies sport a 4-2 record against the Nationals this season, they have just 15 runs in those six games. Luckily for the Phils, the Nationals haven't exactly been playing top notch baseball of late.

2. What have the Nats been up to?
When the Nationals began a three-game set in Washington against the Phillies in late April, they were 14-5 and sat three games up in the NL East. However, since the Phillies swept them, the Nationals have gone just 15-14.

The Nats just finished an up -and-down week by splitting a four-game set with the St. Louis Cardinals and losing two of three to the Mets. Washington tends to rely on Bryce Harper, who is currently mired in a slump.

Harper had just four hits in his 24 at-bats against the Mets and Cardinals. He failed to draw a walk in either series and struck out four times. The 2015 NL MVP is 1 for 3 with two walks this season against Monday's starter, Jeremy Hellickson. 

Former Phillies Jayson Werth and Ben Revere have helped pick up the slack, however. Werth's pinch-hit grand slam Sunday sealed the Nationals' win over the Cards. Revere has five multi-hit games in his last nine starts.  

3. All eyes on Hellickson
Hellickson is the man tasked with taming Nationals' bats that produced 10 runs Sunday. Hellickson's first matchup against the Nats was his worst start of the season, while his second start was his best. 

On April 15 at Citzens Bank Park, Hellickson gave up six runs — five earned — in just three innings, his shortest start of the year. He gave up a home run to the first batter he saw (Michael Taylor) and allowed a three-run double to Werth.

So expectations weren't high on April 27 when the veteran righty faced the Nationals in Washington. However, Hellickson came through for the Phillies on that day. He allowed just two hits in seven scoreless innings and struck out eight. 

Which Hellickson will we see this time? It's tough to tell, but he has produced quality starts in his last three outings, a good sign of things to come.

4. Ready for Roark?
The Nationals have some true aces in their rotation with Max Scherzer and Stephen Strasburg. But Tanner Roark has emerged as another go-to guy in the rotation in the first two months of 2016. 

The 29-year-old pitcher shuffled between the rotation and bullpen last season, finishing with a 4.38 ERA in 40 appearances. However, the righty has returned to form with 10 strong starts, including seven shutout innings against the Phillies on April 28.

After giving up seven runs to the Marlins on May 14, Roark rebounded with quality starts against the Marlins and Mets, giving up just three runs in his last 13⅔ innings in those contests.

Historically, the Phillies have gotten the best of Roark. He has a 2-5 record with a 5.55 ERA in 35⅔ innings, including an 8.27 ERA at Citizens Bank Park.

5. This and that
• Howard is 4 for 12 with one home run and six RBIs in his career against Roark. Herrera has three hits and a walk in seven plate appearances.

• Harper is 3 for 6 with five walks against Hellickson. Werth is 3 for 11 with two doubles and a homer against Hellickson.  

• The Phillies are 2-5 in the first game of a home series this season. The Nationals are 5-3 in the first game of road series.