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Philadelphia Phillies Weekly Recap: April 29 – May 5

Each week, Corner Pub Sports writer Matt Gregan will recap the events of the week for the Philadelphia Phillies. This week, we cover the first week of May, from April 29 to May 5. 

The Philadelphia Phillies, currently sitting at 12-16 and tied for third place in the NL East, have been struggling as of late. Their bats have not been able to get it going consistently, and the bullpen has been horrendous. The Phillies have held leads in many games over the past week, but the bullpen has given them up time and time again. The Phillies finished this past week with a 1-6 record, and they need to turn it around quickly or else the month of May will be a tough one.

Saturday, April 29: @Dodgers, lose 6-5, (11-11 record)

The Phillies were rolling in this one until the ninth inning. Going into the ninth inning, Philadelphia held a 5-2 lead and it seemed as if the Phillies were going to be able to even up the series in Los Angeles. However, the bullpen was blown up by a trio of back-to-back-to-back home runs by Cody Bellinger, Yasiel Puig and Justin Turner. Hector Neris, who had previously been having a good season, was the culprit of these home runs, and he made it through only one-third of an inning while allowing four runs and blowing the save. Phillies manager Pete Mackanin then brought in reliever Joely Rodriguez, who promptly allowed two hits and the winning run. The Phillies ended up blowing a good start by Zach Eflin, who allowed two runs in seven innings, while losing the game by the final score of 6-5.

Sunday, April 30: @Dodgers, lose 5-3, (11-12 record)

The Los Angeles Dodgers were able to easily handle the Phillies, although they did rally in the ninth, and sweep the series with a 5-3 victory on Sunday. Making his debut in the major leagues, Phillies’ starter Nick Pivetta tossed a solid game, making it through five innings while allowing only two runs on nine hits while striking out five. What happened next has become the norm for Philadelphia. Jeanmar Gomez came into the game in relief of Pivetta and proceeded to allow a three-run home run to Andrew Toles. The Phillies’ bats were silent in this one until the ninth inning, where Odubel Herrera hit a two-run home run to give the team some life. In the end, it wasn’t enough and, due to the lack of hitting today by Philadelphia, starter Nick Pivetta was straddled with the loss in his MLB debut.

Monday, May 1: @Cubs, win 10-2, (12-12 record)

On a rainy, soggy night in Chicago, the Phillies were able to explode on Cubs’ starter Brett Anderson. After a rain delay, the Phillies scored seven runs in the first two innings off of Anderson. Aaron Altherr accounted for driving in three runs and scoring two runs. Tommy Joseph homered in the first inning, bringing in three runs. Phillies’ starter Vince Velasquez, who has struggled so far in 2017, pitched a good game, allowing only one run in five innings while striking out four and receiving his second win of the season to move him to 2-2. Also, for once the Phillies’ bullpen didn’t blow a lead, as the combination of Edubray Ramos (one unearned run in two innings), Joely Rodriguez (one inning) and Pat Neshek (one inning) combined to shut down the Cubs in this one. The Phillies received a much needed victory after a tough series in Los Angeles, beating the Cubs by the final score of 10-2.

Tuesday, May 2: @Cubs, lose 8-3, (12-13 record)

The Cubs were able to even up the series by winning this game 8-3 behind some good hitting and solid pitching. Chicago’s starter, Jon Lester, got his first win of the season while giving up three runs (only two earned runs) in five innings. For Philadelphia, starter Jeremy Hellickson had his first bad start of 2017, receiving the loss while giving up six runs in four innings. The Cubs hammered him around, hitting three home runs off of him. The only bright spot for the Phillies in this one was the continued success of outfielder Aaron Altherr, who homered in the first inning.

Wednesday, May 3: @Cubs, lose 5-4, (12-14 record)

On another cold, wet day in Chicago, the Cubs were able to rally from behind to take the lead in the series with this 5-4 win. The Phillies got off to a good start, scoring two runs in the first inning off of starter Jake Arrieta. However, they cooled down and proceeded to score only two runs the rest of the game. Phillies’ starter, Jerad Eickhoff, moved to 0-3 on the season when he allowed four runs in the sixth inning to help Chicago take the lead. Chicago’s rally in the sixth inning began with a pinch-hit two run double by Wilson Contreras, and from there the Cubs never looked back. The Phillies lose another one, making this road trip a miserable one.

Thursday, May 4: @Cubs, lose 5-4, (12-15 record)

In an exciting game that lasted over four hours and went to 13 innings, the Cubs outlasted Philadelphia and won the game 5-4 off of a throwing error by Freddy Galvis. The game was evened up at three apiece going into the eight inning, when Phillies’ catcher Cameron Rupp hit a solo home run to give them a 4-3 lead. However, Chicago answered by tying the game with a solo home run from Miguel Montero. The game then proceeded to go to 13 innings before the Cubs won the game on a throwing error on an attempted double play by shortstop Freddy Galvis. Philadelphia loses a heartbreaker and limps back into Citizens Bank Park in Philadelphia to take on the rival Washington Nationals.

Friday, May 5: vs Nationals, lose 4-2, (12-16 record)

In the Phillies return home, they were spoiled by the first place Washington Nationals, who won the game by the final score of 4-2. Phillies’ starter Nick Pivetta, making his second career MLB start, was tossed around while allowing three home runs to this powerful Nationals lineup. Ryan Zimmerman and Anthony Rendon hit back-to-back home runs in the fifth inning, and even the Nationals pitcher Stephen Strasburg hit a solo home run in the second inning. It was not a good night for Pivetta, who received his second loss of the season while giving up four runs in five innings. Jake Thompson, making his 2017 Phillies debut, pitched a solid sixth inning in relief, striking out two Nationals batters. The only threat that came from the Phillies on this night was a couple of RBI doubles in the seventh inning.

Stats and Other Things

  • The Phillies, who were in a good position in the NL East going into this past week, now fell all the way to being tied for third place and sitting at 12-16. They need to right the ship very quickly if they are to not continue falling and losing momentum.
  • Nick Pivetta, who made his first two career major league starts, finished the week with an 0-2 record and a 5.40 ERA. Pivetta, who was pitching lights out in the minor leagues, hopefully will bounce back and prove to be a solid addition to the Phillies starting rotation.
  • Jerad Eickhoff, who was arguably one of the best Phillies starting pitchers in 2016, is off to a slow start to 2017. Eickhoff is 0-3 with a 4.00 ERA, and the team will need him to turn it around if they are to become a playoff team.
  • While the bullpen has not been pitching well at all, both Joaquin Benoit and Pat Neshek have been bright spots amongst the struggling Philadelphia bullpen. Benoit, in 14 games, has a 2.63 ERA but he did fail as a closer, only recording one save in three opportunities. Pat Neshek, in 11 games, still hasn’t given up a single earned run this season. He has proven to be a great addition to the bullpen thus far.
  • Jake Thompson made his Phillies 2017 debut by striking out two in one inning of relief in Friday night’s loss to the Nationals. Thompson was not off to a good start at triple-A Lehigh Valley, but the Phils still chose to call him up to get him some work in the struggling bullpen.
  • Second baseman Cesar Hernandez continues to swing a hot bat in 2017, although he has cooled down a little bit over the past week. However, Hernandez is still hitting .333 with four homers and 10 RBIs.
  • Aaron Altherr is on fire from the plate, something that the Phillies organization really wanted to see from him. Thus far in 2017, he is hitting .328 with three home runs and 11 RBIs in 22 games.
  • Philadelphia is still waiting to see Maikel Franco break out of his slump that he has been in thus far in 2017. Franco is hitting a terrible average of .229, however, he is at least still knocking runs in at a good rate, knocking in 25 runs while hitting five home runs so far this season.

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