No, not Terrell Owens. The real Goofy.
DMac's title nailed it, "Donovan McNabb To Celebrate 7 Or 8-Win Season By Going To Disney World."
No, not Terrell Owens. The real Goofy.
DMac's title nailed it, "Donovan McNabb To Celebrate 7 Or 8-Win Season By Going To Disney World."
Phillies (25-20) at Tigers (22-22)
7:10 p.m. on CSN
The Phillies actually lost a one-run game.
Their six-game road trip started off with a loss Monday night against a Tigers lineup that showed just how much power it has. Miguel Cabrera homered twice, and J.D. Martinez and Nick Castellanos added solo shots of their own. It was an all-around rough night for Phillies pitchers, but they have a chance to even the series tonight at Comerica Park.
Let's take a look at the matchup:
1. Keep 'em in the park
Comerica Park in Detroit favors pitchers more than hitters, but the Tigers and Phillies made it look small on Monday, hitting a combined six home runs. Oddly enough, all were solos.
Jeremy Hellickson hopes tonight for more success than Vince Velasquez had Monday. Hellickson struggled with the home run ball earlier in the year, allowing nine in his first seven starts. But the previous two teams he faced, the Marlins and Reds, aren't as loaded offensively as the Tigers.
Detroit has clicked at the plate over the last week, belting 17 home runs over its last six games. J.D. Martinez has three of them and Cabrera has five. With those two batting second and third, Hellickson needs to be sharp in the first inning.
The opening frame has been a problem for Hellickson all season — his opponents have hit .289 with an .883 OPS, six doubles and a homer. His first-inning ERA is 7.00 this season and 5.75 over the last two.
2. Changes from Hellickson
He enters 4-2 with a 3.99 ERA. Over his last two starts, he's given up just two earned runs in 13 innings, putting 11 men on base and striking out 13. He's faced 57 batters since last allowing a home run for his longest homerless streak of the season.
What's been the biggest difference for Hellickson in his last two starts? He's turned to his changeup, his best pitch, more often with two strikes. In his first seven outings, Hellickson threw the changeup 18 percent of the time with two strikes. His last two starts, he's thrown it 48 percent of the time with two strikes. It's completely fooled the opposition, which is 0 for 17 with 11 strikeouts against Hellickson's changeup over that span.
Hellickson has by far the highest swing-and-miss rate of changeups in all of baseball with 57 in 184 pitches (31 percent).
Look for Hellickson to continue utilizing that pitch tonight. Here are some of the Tigers' numbers this season against right-handed changeups:
Cabrera: 1 for 11
Castellanos: 1 for 10
Justin Upton: 1 for 7
J.D. Martinez: 0 for 7
Current Tigers are 30 for 95 (.316) lifetime against Hellickson. Catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia has done the most damage, going 8 for 25 with three doubles, three homers and five walks. Cabrera is 4 for 11 with a homer. Upton is 5 for 13 with two doubles and two homers.
3. Not the same Verlander
Now 33, Justin Verlander is not the same fireballer he was in his prime. In 2011, the year he won AL Cy Young and MVP, his fastball averaged 95 mph. This season, the pitch has averaged a career-low 92.1.
Here's a look at the difference for Verlander's pitches the last three seasons compared to his peak of 2009 to 2012:
Fastball: .254 opponents' batting average
His pitches just haven't had the same life and bite as they once did. We've seen this happen to a number of former aces over the last few seasons: Verlander, Felix Hernandez, Tim Lincecum, Matt Cain, CC Sabathia, Roy Halladay. When the decline happens, it happens fast. It's not as drastic for some as it is for others. King Felix has been able to remain effective despite diminished velocity by mastering his offspeed pitches. That's something Lincecum, Cain and Sabathia have been unable to.
Verlander is sort of in between. Since the start of 2014, he's 23-24 with a 4.16 ERA and 1.27 WHIP in 61 starts. He hasn't been horrible but hasn't been great either.
This season, Verlander is 3-4 with a 4.58 ERA. He's struck out 60 and walked 20 in 57 innings. He's on a roll entering tonight's game, having allowed just four runs over his last 22⅓ innings with 27 strikeouts.
Current Phillies have just 34 career at-bats against Verlander and 18 belong to David Lough. Ryan Howard and Andres Blanco are 0 for 3, Carlos Ruiz is 0 for 2 and Peter Bourjos is 1 for 8.
4. Franco breaking out?
Maikel Franco has had back-to-back multi-hit games for the first time since April 22-23, when he hit three home runs and drove in seven in the first two games of a series in Milwaukee.
Is he finally breaking out of his lengthy slump? Every time over the last few weeks that it's looked like it, he's followed with a few hitless games.
Franco does appear to be seeing the ball better, though. He's walked just 11 times all season but four have come in his last seven games. In his last five, he's reached base nine times in 19 plate appearances with a double and a homer.
5. This and that
• Odubel Herrera, who was pulled from Monday's game for not hustling out a groundball, has followed an 0-for-11 skid by going 5 for 7 in his last two games. He's batting .335/.445/.456. His .901 OPS is 10th among all NL outfielders, ahead of guys like Starling Marte, Hunter Pence, Andrew McCutchen, Giancarlo Stanton and Carlos Gonzalez.
• Herrera's five errors lead all MLB centerfielders. Nobody else has more than two.
• Colton Murray's soaking up three innings last night allowed David Hernandez, Hector Neris and Jeanmar Gomez to rest despite Velasquez's recording just 12 outs. Hernandez has had two full days off. Getting these guys some rest will be crucial moving forward. Neris is on pace for 86 appearances, Gomez 83 and Hernandez 72. Last season, only one reliever in the majors (St. Louis' Kevin Siegrist) had 80-plus appearances.
• Tommy Joseph entered Monday 0 for 7 with four strikeouts against right-handed pitching, but had a double and homer off Mike Pelfrey.
• Ryan Howard is 4 for 52 (.077) with 22 strikeouts over his last 18 games. His .156 batting average ranks last among 180 qualifying major-leaguers and his .226 OBP is 177th.
DETROIT — Back when they were racking up National League East titles and filling Citizens Bank Park night after night, the Phillies could slug with anyone.
Those days are gone.
So even on a night when they got some power from two young up-and-comers in their lineup, the Phillies still couldn’t get enough to match up with the Detroit Tigers on Monday night.
“We don’t have enough pop to go blow for blow with them,” manager Pete Mackanin said.
The Tigers belted four home runs, three against starting pitcher Vince Velasquez, in beating the Phillies, 5-4, at Comerica Park (see Instant Replay).
Maikel Franco and Tommy Joseph both homered for the Phillies, but Ryan Howard, no longer even close to the player he was during those aforementioned title years, slipped deeper into the May quicksand. He went 0 for 4 with two strikeouts to fall to .156 on the season. He is 4 for 48 (.083) in the month of May.
“Man, it’s been brutal,” Howard said after the game. “I’m not going to lie. I need some breaks, man. It’s been tough. I’ve hit some balls hard, but they’re not finding any real estate out there.
“I have to keep grinding and swinging. Luckily, it’s still early to get it turned around.”
Yes, it’s early for some guys.
But it might not be that early for Howard. He’s 36 and in the final year of his contract. His slump has coincided with Joseph’s ascension from the minors. Joseph played first base Monday night and looked good at the position. In addition to hitting a game-tying homer in the sixth, he had a double. Half of his six hits in his first seven games in the majors have been for extra bases.
Joseph will continue to play first base while Howard serves as the designated hitter in the final two games of the interleague series in Detroit. After that, Joseph is expected to start against lefty Jon Lester in Chicago on Friday. If he keeps hitting — and Howard keeps struggling — the situation could be ripe for Mackanin to continue to play Joseph, even against the right-handers Howard usually sees.
“I'm going to look at it a week at a time,” Mackanin said. “We'll see. At some point it might come to that, but I can't say it's imminent.”
If Howard starts spending more time on the bench, it will be part of a downhill progression that started in the second half of last season when he became a platoon player. Will a progression to the bench ultimately lead to his being released in the coming weeks? Well, if Joseph keeps hitting and continues to earn playing time, management may have to seriously ponder the move.
Even with Franco and Joseph hitting home runs, the Phillies didn’t have enough to match the Tigers’ thunder.
Miguel Cabrera belted two home runs and in the seventh inning clubbed his 500th career double. He then came around to score the go-ahead run on a single by Victor Martinez.
Entering the game, the Tigers were among the top teams in the American League in batting average (.265), runs per game (4.60), homers (56) and OPS (.758).
Meanwhile, the Phillies couldn’t get much lower in offense. They ranked near the bottom in the National League in batting average (.233), runs per game (3.23), homers (32) and OPS (.651).
“You look up and down their lineup on the scoreboard and it looks like everybody is hitting .300 with eight or 10 home runs,” Mackanin said. “It can be daunting.
“The middle of their lineup hurt us with the long ball. We knew they were swinging the bats well lately. They weren’t earlier. Now they’re swinging well and we couldn’t contain them.
“We got 12 hits of our own. But they’ve got a lot of power on that team.”
The Phillies are at the start of a challenging trip — three in Detroit followed by three against the Cubs in Wrigley Field. The Cubs have the majors’ best record. The Phillies, a surprising four games over .500, will be tested on this trip.
They did not pass the first test. Velasquez had trouble commanding his pitches and for the second straight start ran a high pitch count. He took a 3-1 lead to the mound in the fifth, but it evaporated quickly under the weight of homers by J.D. Martinez and Cabrera. Reliever Colton Murray also gave up a homer in the inning. He also allowed the go-ahead run in the seventh as Mackanin held David Hernandez back in case the Phils got a lead.
“Velasquez didn’t have any command of his secondary pitches, pretty basic stuff, and he left some fastballs over the plate,” Mackanin said. “You have to throw quality pitches to a lineup like this. If you make mistakes against them, they don’t miss. If you don’t command your secondary pitches against good hitters, they become like sharks and smell blood and hit the fastball.”
Velasquez said he should have gotten the loss, not Murray.
“You can’t shy away from hitters and I did that,” he said. “You’ve got to pitch inside. I pitched around them.
“I’ve got to do something about this. I’ve got to challenge hitters.”
DETROIT — Phillies manager Pete Mackanin made a strong statement Monday night when he benched his best hitter in the seventh inning of a tie game.
With Odubel Herrera on the bench for the final innings, the Phillies went on to lose, 5-4, to the Detroit Tigers (see Instant Replay).
Mackanin did not regret his decision to yank Herrera and his team-high .335 batting average from the game.
“It’s important to me to set that tone,” Mackanin said. “When you don’t hustle, I’ve got a problem.”
Herrera had singled in each of his first three at-bats. He drove in the Phillies’ first run with a hit in the third inning.
But when he bounced back to the pitcher and took his time getting to first base in the seventh, Mackanin abruptly pulled him. Even Ryan Howard said something to Herrera in the dugout.
“He didn’t run,” Mackanin said. “One of the ingredients to our success to this point is the fact that guys play with energy and they play hard. We’re training them to play the game the right way and not running is not the right way.”
Herrera said he did not run because he was “frustrated” and “angry” with the at-bat. He said Tigers reliever Justin Wilson “got in his head” by varying his delivery times. Herrera even mentioned that Wilson quick-pitched him.
“The pitcher was playing with me,” he said. “I have to learn from it. I didn’t think [Mackanin] was going to bench me, but I understand why. I can’t argue. I was frustrated. I respect the decision. I know that I did wrong. I have to learn from my mistakes and it won’t happen again.”
Mackanin is a huge fan of Herrera. He has predicted the 24-year-old Venezuelan will someday win a batting title.
But Mackanin indicated after Monday night’s game that Herrera might be developing some bad habits — at least when it comes to the hustle that Mackanin values. The front office values it, too. Playing with “energy” is something the front office frequently says it wants to see, and the ability to get his players to play with energy is one of Mackanin’s strengths.
“I’ve seen it in the past and it’s been trickling in,” Mackanin said of Herrera’s occasional lapses in hustle. “I didn’t like it and I made the decision. He knows he should have run.”
Jonathan Papelbon put a chokehold on Bryce Harper’s neck last year in Washington for a similar transgression.
In the Phillies’ dugout Monday night, Herrera got a little talking-to from Howard.
“That was great to see,” Mackanin said.
Said Howard: “Doobie's got a lot of promise. He’s going to be around this game for a long time. He makes things happen. He brings energy to the game.
“The pitcher lost the grip and had to double-pump. If you’re running hard, maybe he makes a bad throw and you’re on base.
“I just told him, ‘You’ve got to keep going. I know it’s not the at-bat you wanted, but look at me, bro, I’m still out there grinding.’ If he’s running there, the pitcher could throw it away and he could be on second and we could squeeze a run out.”
Howard went 0 for 4 with two strikeouts to fall to .156 on the season. He is 4 for 48 (.083) in the month of May (see story).
Mackanin said his message to Herrera was complete. Herrera will be back in the starting lineup on Tuesday night.