Two big frames power Phils to win
Santana hits long HR in six-run 2nd inning; Arrieta, defense struggle early
PHILADELPHIA -- Manager Gabe Kapler talked Friday afternoon at Citizens Bank Park about the Phillies' offense and, specifically, how it can succeed without Manny Machado or other offensive upgrades before the July 31 non-waiver Trade Deadline. It surprised nobody that Kapler spoke glowingly about his lineup and its chances to score runs consistently in the second half. Kapler is a positive guy.
"We have everything we need," he proclaimed.
The Phillies beat the Padres later that night, 11-5, to maintain their half-game lead in the National League East.
They won in part because they scored six runs in the second inning to overcome an early 4-0 deficit. The rally started because the Phillies worked three walks, which Kapler likes to call "Phillies-style baseball," and Jacob Arrieta beat out a double play. But the Phillies' score surged because Odubel Herrera hit a two-out single to center field to score two runs and Carlos Santana crushed a three-run home run to center field.
"Machado is a great talent, but we believe here," Santana said.
The Phillies have had no problem seeing a lot of pitches and walking a lot this season, but they have had problems coming up with big hits to take advantage of those runners on base. The Phillies' .237 batting average is the team's lowest since a .233 mark in 1971.
They will need a better, more consistent offense in the second half to capture their first National League East title since 2011. It wouldn't be a surprise to see the Phillies acquire a hitter before the Deadline. Royals third baseman Mike Moustakas, Twins infielder Eduardo Escobar or Royals super-utility man Whit Merrifield could fit. The Phillies have had a scout at each of the past two starts for Tigers left-hander Matthew Boyd, although the Tigers reportedly are listening to offers for right fielder Nicholas Castellanos, who has played third base in the past.
The Phillies have the depth in their farm system to make a trade. They were a finalist for Machado, after all.
"There are a lot of teams out there that wanted Machado because he's going to help obviously pretty much anybody," said Arrieta, who allowed five runs (four earned) in 3 1/3 innings on Friday. "We've obviously gotten into the position we're at with the guys we have. I don't see any reason why we can't continue to have contributions from guys top to bottom throughout our roster, because we've gotten this far with the guys we have. Would it have been cool to have a guy like that? Yeah. On the flipside of it, it gives other guys more opportunity to show they can produce at a high level and help us continue the way we've been playing."
"Even if we didn't have two big innings tonight, I'd probably still have the same level of confidence in our players," Kapler said. "My confidence is not about their performance tonight. My confidence is about their talent. My confidence is about some of their track records. My confidence is about the development that's occurred already with guys like Nick Williams. We'll continue to develop guys like Scott Kingery, Mikey Franco's improvement. So it's not isolated to one particular performance. My confidence is in them for their talent."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Phillies left-hander Austin Davis replaced Arrieta with runners on first and second and one out in the fourth. He walked Hunter Renfroe to load the bases, but got Carlos Asuaje to hit a ball to Santana, who threw home for the forceout at the plate. Davis then struck out William Myers to end the inning and went on to pitch 1 2/3 scoreless innings to earn the first win of his big league career. The Phillies' bullpen pitched 5 2/3 scoreless innings to preserve the win.
"It was a little bit rusty there early on, and we knocked it off," Kapler said. "It got us going for the second half."
Arrieta allowed five runs in just 3 1/3 innings. Defense failed him in the first as the team committed two errors. Herrera arguably could have caught a line drive in center field that led to the inning's fourth run.
The Phillies entered the game with one of the worst defenses in baseball. They ranked 29th in baseball in defensive runs saved (-66) and ultimate zone rating (-26.4) and 27th in defensive runs above average (-25.4), according to FanGraphs. They also ranked fourth in errors (70), tied for third in passed balls (13) and fifth in wild pitches (48). The defense will need to improve in the second half, but Arrieta took fault for the tough start.
"Didn't really have much tonight," Arrieta said. "The stuff that I was in the zone with was either too much elevated or the breaking stuff didn't have the action that I needed. Start the game off with a walk and an error, not what you're looking for. They picked me up, and that's something that I intend to do when it's my opportunity to do that for our guys, when we have that need."
YOU GOTTA SEE THIS
Maikel Franco made a couple of daring baserunning decisions in the eighth inning, leading to a run. He advanced from first to third on a single to right field, which was gutsy, because he stopped running as he reached second base. Only an off-the-mark throw to third from Renfroe allowed Franco to reach safely. Franco then scored on a wild pitch that bounced only a few feet from home plate. The throw from catcher Austin Hedges went over Robert Stock's head. Both times good throws likely get Franco.
HE SAID IT
"Especially over the course of the last month or so, we were looking for that moment, that big hit. So we were getting guys on base, and we just weren't quite able to capitalize. So, yeah, that was incredibly encouraging to see Santana clear the bases like that." -- Kapler, on Santana's homer
Phillies right-hander Vince Velasquez (5-8, 4.39 ERA) will face Padres right-hander Luis Perdomo (1-4, 7.55) on Saturday night in the second game of a three-game series at Citizens Bank Park. Velasquez pitched six scoreless innings July 11 in his first start back from the 10-day disabled list (bruised right forearm). First pitch is scheduled for 7:05 p.m. ET.