*** Phillies rally with four runs in bottom of 7th, hold on to defeat Dodgers by 7-6 on Thursday afternoon at Citizens Bank Park *** Victory gives Phillies a split of the four-game series vs the top team in Major League Baseball *** Phillies are tied for the second NL Wildcard berth *** Visit PHILLIESNATION.com and follow @PhilliesNation on Twitter and Facebook for updates on the Philadelphia Phillies all year long ***

Sunday, June 30, 2019

J.T. Realmuto becomes lone Phillies player named to 2019 NL All-Star squad

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Bryce Harper jokes with J.T. Realmuto at 2018 MLB All-Star Game

When general manager Matt Klentak made a big trade back on February 7 of this year to acquire J.T. Realmuto from the Miami Marlins, he knew that the Philadelphia Phillies were gaining one of the most respected catchers in the game.
Klentak paid a big price to acquire the now 28-year-old from Oklahoma. Sent to Miami were the organization’s top pitching prospect, one of the most prized in the game, in right-hander Sixto Sanchez. Also going to the Marlins were catcher Jorge Alfaro and another minor league pitcher.
Realmuto was a big part of the Phillies early-season rise to the top of the NL East Division. Though his offensive production tailed off during what was a difficult month of June for the entire team, his defensive game never wavered.
The Phillies catcher remains one of the top backstops in all of Major League Baseball. This afternoon, that was recognized once again with his selection as a reserve on the National League All-Star team.
This marks a second consecutive NL All-Star nod for Realmuto. Last year as a member of the Marlins he was one of four backstops named to the NL squad. This year, at least as the initial reserves are announced, there will be three.


The starting catcher voted to the squad for a second straight year was Willson Contreras of the Chicago Cubs. Joining Realmuto as a back-up behind the plate will be Yasmani Grandal of the Milwaukee Brewers.
Realmuto entered last year’s game at Nationals Park in Washington, D.C. as a defensive replacement for Contreras in the top of the 6th inning. He would make two plate appearances, walking twice and scoring a run during an 8-6 win for the American League.
The Phillies lone All-Star representative a year ago was pitcher Aaron Nola, who would go on to finish third in the NL Cy Young Award voting during a stellar 2018 campaign. Nola threw a scoreless 5th inning, allowing one hit and striking out two batters.

As June comes to an end, Phillies look to snap skid vs Marlins

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Phillies are desperate for a win at Marlins Park as June ends

The Philadelphia Phillies (43-40) have fallen 6.5 games behind the first-place Atlanta Braves in the National League East Division standings.
That difference can be almost entirely attributed to the two teams performance against the last-place Miami Marlins (32-49) this season.
While the Braves have dominated the Fish with an 8-1 head-to-head record, the Marlins have gone 7-5 against the Phillies. That includes victories in the last five games between the teams over the last two weekends.
While the Marlins continue to rank last in the entire National League in runs-per-game with their 3.62 mark, they also continue to defy their normal statistics when facing the Phillies pitching staff.
In the last four victories between the two teams, the Miami offense has produced 26 runs. That means they have scored nearly three more runs-per-game in those contests than the Marlins hitters average as their normal result.
When the series began, the key for the Phillies to get a series victory was to find a way to score against the stingy Marlins pitching staff while keeping their hitters in the ball park. Instead, the Fish bats have produced 23 hits including three long balls.
It’s no longer about a series victory. This one is lost. It will make five of the last six series dropped by the Phillies. In fact, today will bring to an end a disastrous month of June in which the club has gone just 10-16 to this point. They began the month at nine games over the .500 mark with a three-game lead in the NL East. At this point, they just need a win.

Friday, June 28, 2019

Phillies head to South Florida seeking revenge on the Miami Marlins

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Phillies visit Marlins Park seeking revenge

The Philadephia Phillies (43-38) are down in South Florida for a weekend meeting with the host Miami Marlins (30-49) at Marlins Park.
Coming off an uplifting four-game sweep of the New York Mets, the Phillies will be looking to extend their winning streak and avenge last weekend’s home sweep at the hands of the Fish.
A week ago at Citizens Bank Park, the Marlins took all three games by holding the Phillies to just eight runs scored. By the end of that series, the Phillies had dropped seven games in a row and their season was spiraling out of control.
While the Mets series allowed the Phillies to regain their positive mojo, they cannot afford to give any of that momentum back. Just as they were last weekend, the Marlins are the owners of the worst record in the National League. They came home from Philadelphia and were promptly swept by the Washington Nationals.
The Marlins offense has generated just 3.52 runs-per-game, the worst run production in the NL and second-lowest scoring average in all of Major League Baseball. Their 60 home runs are the least in all of baseball and their .646 OPS is the lowest in the game.
That lack of power has not translated in their meetings with the Phillies. The Miami hitters have blasted 11 of their 60 home runs this season over 10 previous games between the two teams, resulting in a 5-5 split.
While they generally suffer to score, at least when playing the other 28 teams in baseball, the Marlins pitching staff has been strong. The cumulative batting average against mark of .242 is tied for the 6th best in the game. The Miami pitchers have surrendered just 94 home runs, tied for the fourth-most stingy staff in baseball.
The challenge for the Phillies this weekend will be the same as last. Find a way to score against Marlins pitching. The Phillies have scored 45 runs in the 10 meetings. That is a mediocre 4.5 runs-per-game, and it is exaggerated by two games in which the Phillies hitters produced 21 runs. That means in the other eight games, the Phillies have averaged just 4.375 runs.
Also, Phillies pitching is going to have to start holding the Marlins hitters in the park themselves, the same way those other 28 pitching staffs have been doing.

Reading Fightin Phils feature four top Phillies draft picks

Randolph, Moniak, Bohm, Haseley at Reading end of June 2019
(photo credit: George Young Jr)
Many fans of the Philadelphia Phillies make the trip to FirstEnergy Stadium in Reading, Pennsylvania at some point. Roughly 75-80 miles northwest of Philly, those fans make the trip to watch the Reading Fightin’ Phils, the club’s Double-A minor league affiliate.
Minor league baseball has its own attractions, with frequent giveaways and other promotional activities. There is often access to the players that you rarely get in a big-league ballpark, and the seating is fantastic in a more intimate setting.
Recently there was something even more exciting for fans who were able to get to Reading. For the first time in the history of the franchise, four Phillies first round draft picks were all being featured in the Fightins lineup at the same time.
The Phillies top prospect, 22-year-old third baseman Alec Bohm, was the club’s first round choice at third overall in the June 2018 MLB Draft out of Wichita State. Bohm was promoted last Thursday from High-A Clearwater after tearing through four levels of the system since being drafted last year.
Bohm made his home debut in Reading with a fantastic performance on Thursday night. “It was an outstanding game, all-around (for Bohm),” said Reading manager Shawn Williams per The Reading Eagle. “He did it all here tonight.
Bohm has slashed .331/.406/.535 with nine home runs, 32 extra-base hits, 42 RBIs, and 43 runs scored over 298 plate appearances across three levels this season. It was just announced that Bohm has been selected to play for the United States team in the prestigious MLB Futures Game as part of the MLB All-Star festivities next month.

Wednesday, June 26, 2019

Jay Bruce comes through again, Phillies walkoff Mets in 10 innings

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Jay Bruce about to get doused after his Wednesday walkoff

The Philadelphia Phillies (42-38) completed their first walkoff victory of the season, downing the New York Mets (37-44) by a 5-4 final score on Wednesday night at Citizens Bank Park in South Philadelphia. With the win, the Phillies remain tied for an NL Wildcard playoff spot.
For a third consecutive night the Phillies fell behind early. And for a third straight game the offense rallied to bring home a victory. For a club that had languished in a disheartening three-week slump, you can almost feel the energy turning around them, building with each bamboo-inspired victory.


After Phillies starter Nick Pivetta and Mets starting pitcher Jason Vargas battled through the first three innings scoreless, the visitors jumped on the board first courtesy of the longball. Dominic Smith drove his 7th homer of the season out on a line to left to put New York on top 1-0 with one out in the top of the 4th inning.
In the top of the 5th it was new Phillies-killer Jeff McNeil blasting his 6th home run of the year over the center field wall to make it 2-0.
The Mets scored twice more in the very next inning to double their lead. Smith led off by drawing a walk. He then stole second base, and when J.T. Realmuto threw the ball away, Smith went to third. Amed Rosario then walked, and then Tomas Nido singled to bring Smith home, making it 3-0. With two outs, McNeil did it again, ripping a double to right field that scored Rosario to make it 4-0 for the visitors.
In the bottom of the 6th inning, Jean Segura finally got the Phillies on the board with his 9th homer to left-center field. Then the Phillies got even by putting up a crooked number, scoring three times in the home 7th to tie it up.

Tuesday, June 25, 2019

Phillies blast four homers for second straight night to rally past Mets

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Maikel Franco homers for the second consecutive game

The Philadelphia Phillies (41-38) defeated the visiting New York Mets (37-43) by a 7-5 score on Tuesday night at Citizens Bank Park.
It was a second consecutive offensive explosion that carried the Phillies, with the club powering at least four home runs on successive nights for the first time in over a decade.
This time it was no blowout. The Phillies fell behind early. But rather than tuck their tails between their legs and accept defeat, as seemed to happen too often during their recent losing spell, the team showed renewed heart in fighting all the way back.
It was not at all a good night for Phillies starting pitcher Jake Arrieta. He never got it together while surrendering four earned runs over the first three frames to put the team into an early 4-1 hole.
The Mets started the game with three consecutive singles which led to their scratching out two runs in the top of the 1st inning. Solo home runs by Amed Rosario in the top of the 2nd and Dominic Smith in the top of the 3rd off-set a solo homer by Scott Kingery to leadoff the home 1st inning.
A solo home run off the bat of Rhys Hoskins, his 18th of the season, pulled the Phillies within 4-2 in the bottom of the 4th inning. In the top of the 6th, Jeff McNeil‘s RBI single countered that to push the Mets lead to 5-2.

Monday, June 24, 2019

Mets are a mess under manager Mickey Callaway as they open series with Phillies

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Mets skipper Mickey Callaway is under serious fire in New York

The Philadelphia Phillies (39-38) and New York Mets (37-41) both entered the 2019 season with high hopes. Each team was considered by most evaluators to be a genuine contender for a division crown and a postseason berth. Neither has seen their season play out as they would have hoped to this point.

The Phillies situation is well known by now to the frustrated and nearly mutinous fan base. The Phillies were 33-22 and riding high in first place in the division on May 29. They have gone just 6-16 since that time, and just three and a half weeks later are on a seven-game losing streak and have fallen out of even an NL Wildcard spot.
For the Mets, injuries and inconsistencies, their usual two bugaboos, have ganged up to derail what was their own promising start to the 2019 season. On April 24, nearly a month into the season, they were in first place following a 9-0 white-washing of the Phillies. But they went 13-15 in May, and are now 9-12 in June to this point.
The Mets have now lost star pitcher Noah Syndergaard to the IL for at least a couple of weeks. With Jacob deGrom not scheduled to pitch in this series, the Phillies hitters should feel fortunate to be missing their two best starters. However, as inconsistent as they have been performing of late, anyone appears capable of shutting down the Phillies bats.
Following this series, the Phillies will head out on the road for nine games within the division, three each in Miami, Atlanta, and New York. To say they are desperate at this point would be an understatement. The Phillies really need to win this series with the Mets in order to head out on the road feeling better about themselves and their chances of turning things around.

Saturday, June 22, 2019

Marlins send Phillies to sixth straight defeat on a hit that was ten years in the making

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Wilkin Castillo waited a decade to deliver the game-winning hit

This is not a recording. The Philadelphia Phillies (39-37) lost (again) on Saturday, this time by a 5-3 score, when their bullpen collapsed (again) to blow a late-innings lead. And this was a second consecutive loss to the Miami Marlins (29-46), the team with by far the worst record in the National League.
It marks a sixth consecutive defeat for the Phillies. Eight out of nine, and 10 of their last 12, have resulted in their finishing on the lower side of the final score. The have won just six times over their last 20 games.
That is more than a losing skid, or a poor stretch of games. For a team that was 11 games over the .500 mark and in first place when it all began to slowly unravel, this is a complete and utter collapse. For fans, it has been excruciating to endure. Nothing changed this afternoon.
So they are 6-14 over the last three weeks. That is a .300 winning percentage. The lowest winning percentage right now by any team in Major League Baseball over this full season is the .286 mark owned by the woeful Baltimore Orioles. But the O’s at least won today, ending their own 10-game losing streak. Maybe the Phillies aren’t the worst team in the game right now, but you would have a hard time convincing the fan base.
There were hopeful signs early on. Vince Velasquez, given a second (third? fourth?) chance to demonstrate that he might be a viable starting pitcher took the ball and ran with it. He allowed just one hit, a third inning solo home run by JT Riddle, over five innings. Velasquez struck out five, walked none, and was in command the entire time, throwing 40 strikes among his 50 pitches.
In the bottom of that 3rd inning, the Phillies offense responded in a manner that fans have been waiting for all season. Bryce Harper and Rhys Hoskins slammed back-to-back home runs for the first time all year to put the Phillies on top 2-1.

Phillies hope to treat fans to a win before treating them to a free concert

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Country star Brad Eldredge performs a post-game concert on Saturday

The Philadelphia Phillies (39-36) and Miami Marlins (28-46) will meet on Saturday afternoon in the second game of their weekend series at Citizens Bank Park.
For the Phillies, it will be another chance to put an end to a losing streak that has now reached five games. The club has also dropped seven of eight, and nine of their last 11 games.
This losing period has dropped the Phillies to 4.5 games behind the Atlanta Braves in the National League East Division standings. The team is also now tied with the Saint Louis Cardinals, a half-game out of the NL Wildcard race.
The Marlins have now won three of their last four games. Their pitching staff has surrendered just 22 runs over the last seven (3.14 per game) and is now fourth in the National League in batting average against.
The Marlins pitching strength is certainly not good news for a struggling Phillies offensive attack. No matter how inept the Marlins own lineup is at scoring runs, the Phillies can’t win without scoring some themselves. This was perfectly demonstrated in last night’s 2-1 victory for the visitors.
No matter how the game plays out, fans will be treated to a post-game concert by country music star Brett Eldredge. The concert will begin as soon as possible after the conclusion of the game, and your game ticket is also your concert ticket.

Friday, June 21, 2019

Chase Utley retires as a Phillies player prior to Friday night series opener

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Chase Utley retires as a Phillie prior to Friday night's game

For the Philadelphia Phillies (39-35) the hope has to be that a return to home cooking, sleeping in their own beds, the comforting presence of their families, and the home crowd cheering them on at Citizens Bank Park will help turn their season back around.
The club left South Philly just over a week ago after being shutout by the Arizona Diamondbacks, losing a series for the first time to a team not named the Los Angeles Dodgers in more than a month.
Heading out on the road for seven games against their two most talented division rivals, the Atlanta Braves and Washington Nationals, the Phillies floundered. They dropped six of the seven games, with one getting postponed by rain.
Over the last three weeks the Phillies have gone into a stunning free-fall, dropping out of the NL East Division lead. The club has lost four in a row, six of seven, and eight of their last 10 games. They are now also on the outside looking in where the National League Wildcard standings are concerned.
A month-long stretch against only NL East opponents continues this weekend. But instead of the top divisional opposition it will be the last-place Miami Marlins (27-46) paying a visit. The Fish have dropped 10 of their last 14, and only two teams in all of Major League Baseball have a worse record.
The two teams have met seven times already this season, with the Phillies capturing five of those games. In each of those two April series, a four-game set at Marlins Park and a three-gamer at Citizens Bank Park, the Marlins managed to win one game. The Phillies have outscored Miami 37-25 so far, and it’s only that close because of a big 10-3 win by the Marlins on April 13.
Right now, the Phillies cannot afford to take any opponent for granted after being outscored 46-21 over the last week in their games against Atlanta and Washington. While this is a less talented opponent, the fact is that the Phillies aren’t pitching or hitting well enough to intimidate anyone lately.
Injuries certainly have played a role in the Phillies downfall. They have lost left fielder and leadoff hitter Andrew McCutchen for the season. Their bullpen has largely been in shambles, with seven relievers on the Injured List at one point. But every team suffers injuries.
Manager Gabe Kapler and his coaching staff need to find some answers quickly, because the fan base is getting increasingly restless. If the fortunes of this team, one those fans had begun taking for granted as an exciting contender this season, do not turn around fast, those fans are going to become downright mutinous and ugly.

Phillies hope to turn it around against last-place Miami Marlins

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Derek Jeter is trying to turn around the Marlins fortunes

The Miami Marlins (27-46) carry the worst record in the National League, third-worst in all of baseball, and the second-lowest scoring offense in Major League Baseball in to Citizens Bank Park this weekend.
On the face, the Fish would appear to be the perfect opponents for the staggering Philadelphia Phillies (39-35), who are trying to snap a four-game losing streak as the series opens.
But while the Marlins attack has indeed been anemic, ranking at or near the bottom of nearly every offensive category you could imagine, their pitching has been just the opposite.
Miami pitching has been among the best in the National League all season. Marlins pitchers have allowed the third-lowest batting average against in the league this season. They are tied for the third-fewest home runs allowed.
None of that seems welcoming to the Phillies, whose hitters have struggled to consistently produce runs for weeks now. While Citizens Bank Park is normally considered a hitter’s haven, that may not prove the case this weekend.
One thing is certain, the Phillies desperately need to get back to winning series. They could really use a series sweep. To accomplish that, those bats are going to have to wake up and begin producing runs. This weekend would be a great time to do so in front of home crowds that are beginning to grow restless.

The two greatest defensive plays in Phillies franchise history

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Carlos Ruiz tags out Jason Bartlett in 2008 World Series

For my money it has always been one of the two greatest defensive plays in Philadelphia Phillies history, both of which were made during situations in which the fielders were facing tremendous pressure.
It came during Game 5 of the 2008 World Series between the Phillies and visiting Tampa Bay Rays at Citizens Bank Park, and was started by Phillies second baseman Chase Utley, who will be feted on Friday night when he officially retires with the organization.
You may be able to look back over the history of this now 137-year-old ball club and find more spectacular or technically difficult plays. But it would be hard to find two that combine those aspects of difficulty and spectacle with sheer importance in a championship-level setting.
The players at the center of these two phenomenal defensive moments also just happen to be arguably the most popular players among the fan base in the entire history of the Philadelphia Phillies organization.

WHITEY’S STRIKE

The first of those two greatest defensive plays came all the way back in the final game of the 1950 regular season, and was pulled off by Baseball Hall of Famer and Phillies Wall of Famer Richie Ashburn. There were no playoffs in those days. If you finished in first place, you won the pennant and advanced to the World Series.
On that Sunday, October 1 afternoon at Ebbets Field in Brooklyn, the Phillies were battling the host Dodgers. The two teams were tied at 1-1 into the bottom of the 9th inning. A victory by the home side would mean they would tie for first place, forcing a playoff for the National League pennant.
The first two batters, Cal Abrams and Pee Wee Reese, reached base against Phillies right-hander Robin Roberts. The future Phillies Wall of Famer and Baseball Hall of Famer had turned just 24-years-old the previous day, but was already the ace of the staff. But now he was in trouble, and the pennant was in jeopardy.
Next up for the Dodgers was their own 24-year-old future Hall of Famer, Duke Snider. On the first pitch, Snider sent a clean base hit into center field, where the 23-year-old Ashburn fielded the ball and came up firing.
Abrams never hesitated, rounding third and heading for home as the potential game-tying run. Ashburn’s throw to catcher Stan Lopata was true, and Abrams was out as he slid for the plate. For its importance at that moment, and for what happened next, Ashburn’s strike to the plate may still be the greatest defensive play in Phillies franchise history.