Believe it or Not
Two pinch-hit at-bats for Francoeur in two games (Friday/Sunday) resulted in two homers and five RBI. Two-run walk-off drive into the left field seats yesterday produced the Phillies second series sweep of the season. Earlier in the game, Howard put an exclamation point on his 350th career home runs by blasting it into the second deck in right field.
For much of the season, the Phillies were last in the National League in hitting home runs. Today their 61 is above only Atlanta’s 57.
However, when it comes to pinch hitting, the Phillies lead in home runs (7), extra-base hits (15), RBI (26) and game-winning RBI (6). The moral of the story? Whenever the Phillies get runners on base, send up a pinch-hitter. OK, so we may need a 50-man roster.
He was expected to be on a fast track to the majors once he was drafted in the first round by the Phillies a year ago. After a 14-7 record since June 2014, he will make his major league debut Tuesday night. “He” is Aaron Nola, a 22-year-old right-handed pitcher.
He last pitched Thursday night for Lehigh Valley in Rochester and didn’t fare well, six runs in three+ innings, his shortest outing of the season. Manager Dave Brundage in his report: “Nola struggled to find his rhythm from the outset. I felt he got squeezed early in the game which could’ve turned things around but he never got in sinc.”
In the minor leagues, pre-game workouts are the rule rather than the exception. This is true of pitchers who get in their “side work” by throwing in the bullpen. Before Friday’s game, LV pitching coach Ray Burris had a short side work for Nola, “touch and feel. Worked on his location on fast ball and more depth on his breaking ball.”
Saturday side work: 40 pitches: “Worked on keeping the ball down on all pitches and we got rid of the jumping from balance to release to where he could recognize it by feel.”
He wore #10 at Reading and Lehigh Valley but will be #27 in the big leagues.
Lehigh Valley IronPigs (42-53, 4th place, North Division)
Won 2 of 3 in Rochester . . . Jesse Biddle (1-0) won his 1st AAA game on Friday, 7-3-0-0-1-7 . . . LHR Adam Loewen picked up 6th-7th saves; last 4 appearances: 4 SV, 4 IP, 4 SO . . . CF Aaron Altherr, 3-12 weekend, including game-winning 2-run homer on Saturday; he’s hitting .293 at AAA after .293 at AA.
Next: Jason Berken (5-6) 7:05 tonight vs. Toledo.
Reading Fightin’ Phils (51-43, tie 1st place, Eastern Division)
Won 2 of 3 from New Britain . . . Friday’s WP: Jerome Williams, 8-5-2-1-0-5 . . . CF Destin Hood, a 2nd round draft by Washington in 2008, was signed Friday after being released; in 1st 3 games with Reading the 25-year-old: 4-12, 2 HR, 4 RBI . . .LF Cam Perkins had a 10th-inning walk-off RBI double Sunday, 6-5. ND Ben Lively, 6.1-7-2-2-1-4.
Next: Mark Leiter (1-4) 7:05 tonight in Bowie.
Clearwater Threshers (16-9, 1st place, North Division)
Dropped 2 games to Palm Beach (Friday/Saturday) and won Sunday, 3-1, in Lakeland before a crowd of 321 fans. WP: Ricardo Pinto (3-1), 8-3-1-0-1-4; 9-3 combined between Lakewood/Clearwater . . . C Willians Astudillo, 5-10 weekend; hitting .308 . . . CF Carlos Tocci, 4-11; .317 average in last 10 games.
Next: Matt Imhoff (4-3) 6:30 tonight in Lakeland.
Lakewood BlueClaws (14-10, 2nd place, Northern Division)
Won 2 of 3 in Rome, Georgia, not Italy . . . RF Jiandido Tromp tied a franchise record by driving in 7 runs in Sunday’s 13-3 romp. Doubled in 1 run and hit 2 3-run HRs, #3-4 . . . LF Cord Sandberg, game-winning hit in 5-4 Friday win; has hit in 9 straight (14-31), .452 . . . 1B Kyle Martin, 9-gamer also (17-37), .459
Next: Tyler Viza (4-5), 7:00 tonight in Rome; end of a 7-game road trip.
Williamsport Crosscutters (12-8, 1st place, Pinckney Division)
Won 3 of 4 (played Batavia/Mahoning Valley) . . . WPs: Jose Taveras (3-1), 5-7-3-2-2-5; Mitch Gueller (4-1), 7-4-0-0-3-6; 12 ground-ball outs; Luke Leftwich (1-0), 5-3-0-0-1-3; 1st pro win . . . SVs: Robert Tasin (6), has allowed 1 R and 4 H in 11 IP; Anthony Segueira (2), 13.1 IP, 4 H, 1 ER, 1 BB, 14 SO.
Next: Denton Keys (0-1), 7:05 vs. Mahoning Valley.
Gulf Coast League Phillies (17-5, 1st place, Northwest Division)
Rained out Friday and split a DH vs. Atlanta the next day. Clearwater RF Dylan Cozens, on rehab assignment, played in both games . . . WP: Felix Paulino (3-1), 5-5-2-2-0-6 . . . HRs: SS Jonathan Arauz (2), CF Juan Luis, 1st as a pro.
Next: Bailey Falter 12 noon today vs. Yankees2.
Lehigh Valley: INF Edgar Duran placed on DL (broken right toe); INF Devin Lohman, from Reading.
Reading: Released OF Drew Heid; signed free agent OF Destin Hood.
Friday kicks off the weekend with Pat Burrell’s induction into the Toyota Wall of Fame, the 13th outfielder to receive such an honor. Number 1 outfield inductee was #1, Richie Ashburn, in 1979.