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Herrera homers, but miscues cost Phils in loss

Phillies' six-game winning streak comes to an end in Atlanta
April 16, 2018

ATLANTA -- Phillies center fielder Odubel Herrera stood on second base, frustrated and maybe a little bit embarrassed.He slapped himself on the side of his helmet. He shouted.Herrera showed why he can be both exciting and frustrating to watch in a span of just four innings in Monday night's 2-1

ATLANTA -- Phillies center fielder Odubel Herrera stood on second base, frustrated and maybe a little bit embarrassed.
He slapped himself on the side of his helmet. He shouted.
Herrera showed why he can be both exciting and frustrating to watch in a span of just four innings in Monday night's 2-1 loss to the Braves at SunTrust Park, ending the Phillies' chance for their first seven-game winning streak since 2012. Herrera ripped a solo home run to center field in the first inning to hand the Phils the lead, but got thrown out trying to stretch a single into a double in the third, then gave Braves second baseman Ozzie Albies an extra step or two to score the go-ahead run on a sacrifice fly in the fourth when he didn't call for a fly ball in shallow right-center field.

"That's how baseball is sometimes, you know?" Herrera said through the team's interpreter. "All I can do now is learn from it and hopefully it won't happen again."
Herrera did not start in Atlanta on Opening Day against Braves right-hander Julio Teheran, who dominated the Phillies on Monday. Teheran got 18 swings and misses and 23 called strikes as he struck out nine batters in six innings.
But Herrera hit Teheran hard twice. His home run left his bat at 106.2 mph and traveled a projected 423 feet, according to Statcast™. Herrera then hit a ball to right field with a runner on first and one out in the third. He tried to stretch the hit into a double, but never bothered to slide. Braves right fielder Nick Markakis threw a strike to shortstop Dansby Swanson, who applied the tag.

Instead of runners on second and third with one out, the Phillies had a runner on third with two outs.
"It's two things," Herrera said. "No. 1, I misjudged the play. I really thought I could make it without sliding. No. 2, I looked at [Swanson] and it didn't look like the ball was going to get to him. I really thought I was going to be safe without having to slide."
Phillies right-hander Aaron Nola had runners at the corners with one out in the fourth when Kurt Suzuki lofted a fly ball to shallow right-center field. Herrera and right fielder Aaron Altherr converged on the play, but nobody called for the baseball. Altherr, sensing trouble, lunged at the ball at the last second. He threw to the plate, but Albies scored to hand the Braves a 2-1 lead.
"I should have called for the ball and I should have made that play," Herrera said. "I think I could have caught it and got him out at home plate."
The Braves seemed to agree.
"When I could tell the outfielders were confused, I said, 'I'm going,'" Albies said.
"[Altherr] didn't really get behind it good because he took it at the last minute it looked like," Braves manager Brian Snitker said. "If he had got set up and gotten behind it, that would have been a really close play."
Phillies manager Gabe Kapler said he spoke with Herrera about both mistakes after the game. Kapler said Herrera will slide next time. He said Herrera will throw out the runner at the plate next time, too.
"I continue to feel that this is a very good baseball player," Kapler said. "An excellent teammate. A guy who prepares his butt off and a guy who we have an incredible amount of confidence in. He makes us a lot better every time he's out on the field."
The Phillies had runners on first and second with one out in the eighth inning, when Pedro Florimon pinch-hit for J.P. Crawford, who had two hits in his previous three at-bats Monday and seven hits in his last 14 at-bats following a 1-for-25 start. Kapler preferred Florimon against Braves left-hander A.J. Minter, but Florimon struck out swinging.
Crawford is 2-for-27 in his career against lefties, including 0-for-4 this season. Florimon dropped to 1-for-4 this season against lefties. He entered the game with a .541 OPS in 224 career plate appearances against lefties.
"In that particular case, we thought that Florimon gave us a really good chance to get on base," Kapler said. "It was a tough matchup in general for J.P. He's going to get a lot of opportunities. He's going to get a lot of opportunities to face left-handed pitching. It was just the spot in the game where we felt like we wanted to put our best option to get on base against the opposition's pitcher. It was the right decision for us in the moment."

Phillies right-hander Victor Arano is cruising. He has faced 22 batters this season. He has retired every one of them. Arano has struck out nine batters in 7 1/3 innings.
Nola allowed four hits, two runs, one walk and struck out two in six innings. He recorded three swings and misses and nine called strikes in 85 pitches. The three swings-and-misses were the second fewest in any start in his career. Nola had five in his previous start, which were the third fewest in his career.

"I want quick outs," Nola said. "Strikeouts are good. Swings and misses are good. I haven't had as many this year yet as I did last year and in previous years. But quick outs are nice. That allows me to go deep in the ballgame. It allows those guys to see less pitches."
"I approached him. So I apologized. I said, 'My bad, my bad.' He said, 'Don't worry, man. We've got you.' I felt bad." -- Herrera, who had a conversation with Rhys Hoskins on the field following Herrera's baserunning gaffe in the third
Phillies right-hander Nick Pivetta (1-0, 2.70 ERA) faces Braves right-hander Mike Foltynewicz (1-1, 2.93 ERA) on Tuesday night at SunTrust Park at 7:35 p.m. ET. Pivetta's last two starts have been dominant, as he allowed just nine hits and two runs in 12 2/3 innings. He has struck out 19 and walked none this season.

Todd Zolecki has covered the Phillies since 2003, and for since 2009. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook and listen to his podcast.