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Francoeur continues to make impact for Phillies

PHILADELPHIA -- Whether offensive or defensive, good or bad, Jeff Francoeur makes plays that has the fans hold their breath.

In the Phillies' 7-5 loss to the Giants on Saturday, Francoeur helped ignite the scoring for both the Phillies and Giants. Offensively, Francoeur laced his second-career grand slam, off Madison Bumgarner in the fourth inning with his team trailing by six runs. Defensively, Francoeur air mailed a throw from right field over catcher Carlos Ruiz's head in the first inning, allowing the runners on first and second to advance to second and third.

Though on the surface the plays couldn't seem more different, they actually show a progression of Francoeur's thought process throughout the game and mirror in many ways the product his team has been putting on the field.

Starting chronologically at the beginning, the first-inning throwing error was a product of Francoeur relying purely on instincts.

"That was brutal," Francoeur said. "I should've just gone to third or second. It didn't help that I think it just got done raining and it was a little wet so I slipped. I know better than that."

However, the grand slam was a product of the veteran recognizing Bumgarner's pitch patterns and capitalizing off of that.

"[It was a] heater in," Francoeur said. "It was the same pitch he got me out on the first AB, so I tried to kind of get ready a little quicker and stay a little taller. I've been kind of diving out over the plate. It was a good pitch to go on and obviously it was at a good time for us."

Therein lie the similarities between Francoeur's Saturday and the Phillies' season. The good is there. In nearly every game the Phillies do something to prove that there is talent hiding somewhere behind the 15-games-below-.500 record. But it's often disguised by the unfortuante mistakes that bury the team early in games.

These mistakes, be they poor outings by starting pitchers or base-running errors or swinging at pitches out of the zone, have led the Phillies to lose 11 of their last 16 games and have them in last place in the NL East standings.

Francoeur said he's noticed this happening and said that depending on the opponent, these mistakes can intensify or be more-easily overcome.

"In this game, even if you play eight innings hard, if you have one bad inning it can cost you the game," Francoeur said. "There's games where I feel like we do that or games where we're ahead enough and we have a pitcher pitching really well and we don't really have to worry about that. But against a team like [the Giants] we can't afford to make mistakes like this."

But with the youth the Phillies have, Francoeur said one solace to be had is that his teammates aren't going to dwell on these mistakes for long.

"We're not happy about it," he said. "But at the same time, I think there are a lot of guys who will go home tonight and get themselves ready for tomorrow. We have to come win a ballgame."

Nick Suss is an associate reporter for
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