Slumping Phillies Undone by Pair of Long Homers in Loss to Marlins


MIAMI - For better or for worse - and there was some of both - Vince Velasquez's pitching, fielding, hitting and baserunning had an impact on the Phillies' 6-4 loss to the Marlins on Friday night.

The biggest factors in the Marlins' win, however, were two long two-run homers that served as bookends for Miami scoring (see Instant Replay).

Christian Yelich's upper-deck shot to right field off of Velasquez in the first inning was the hors d'oeuvre.

Giancarlo Stanton's 475-foot monster shot to center field off of reliever Hector Neris was the decadent dessert.

"They didn't hit cheap shots," Phillies manager Pete Mackanin said. "Yelich, I guess he hit one like that last night. The ball Stanton hit was a laser - God almighty."

It seems silly to say … yet it's the truth. Other than those two home runs, there was a lot to like from the Phillies' perspective.

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They entered the game ranking last in the majors with a .166 batting average against left-handers. Yet they battered Marlins southpaw Wei-Yin Chen for 11 hits and four runs in five innings.

Phillies third baseman Maikel Franco, benched on Thursday after his second 5-for-36 slump of the season, was spectacular. He went 2 for 5 with a solo homer and an RBI double. He also made a superb backhand stab at third base to start a key double play with two runners on base.

Better yet, the home run was to the opposite field, which showed a good approach, and one of his outs was rather loud, lining out to left field.

Leadoff man Odubel Herrera, who is second in the National League in on-base percentage, raised his batting average to .330 with a 3-for-5 performance.

Ninth-place hitter Peter Bourjos gave the Phillies their own bookend, sparking the bottom of the order with a 2-for-2 performance with two walks, two RBIs and a run scored.

All that explains how the Phillies, who rank second-worst in the majors in runs scored, were able to generate offense despite starting four hitters with batting averages south of .170.

That leads us back to Velasquez, who gave up the shot to Yelich and could have escaped what became a two-run Marlins second inning had he made a fielding play on a swinging bunt by J.T. Realmuto.

Instead, Velasquez tried to bare-hand the ball and missed it, allowing a run to score.

Velasquez reacted by flipping his glove into the dugout once the inning was over.

"I had to keep my composure and not to let things go anymore than they did," he said. "I had to let things go. It was a rough start.

"You can't get behind in the count - missed locations. That pitch to Yelich was horrible. It was inside - the opposite side of where I was trying to go."

To his credit, Velasquez kept his composure after that second inning, retiring 10 straight batters.

In addition, his hustle helped the Phillies score two more runs in the fourth. With two outs and a runner on first, Velasquez beat out a grounder to shortstop Miguel Rojas on a close play.

That allowed Bourjos to hit a two-run double just inside the third-base line.

"That's something I have to take advantage of - I was a position player," Velasquez said of his earlier days in baseball. "I had to get on base and help the team out."

The Phillies tied the score in the fifth inning when Franco hit his opposite-field homer. It was his sixth homer of the season and his first since April 23.

But that was the last highlight for the Phillies, who fell victim to Stanton and the surging Marlins (16-12), who have won 11 of 12 games for just the second time in franchise history, matching the 2009 team.

Here's how hot the Marlins are: Yelich has three homers in four games - very unexpected. Yelich, who is in his fourth year in the majors, had 20 career homers in 1,380 at-bats entering Tuesday. His homer on Friday gave him three homers in a 13 at-bat span.

But that's what happens when a team gets on a streak. And that includes a Miami bullpen that has strung together 15 2/3 scoreless innings this week.

The Marlins passed the Phillies (16-14) for third place in the NL East, and the biggest surprise wasn't that Stanton hit the game-winner.

The surprise was that Neris, who has been almost untouchable of late, gave up the big blow by Stanton, who clobbered an 87 mph split-fingered fastball.

"He just hung his split - it was a hanger to Stanton," Mackanin said of Neris, who started the night with 27 strikeouts, the most of any reliever in the majors. "His spit was up. It wasn't diving like we've seen it all year."

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