Yes, it's a bit early to say Odubel Herrera is the next Vladimir Guerrero. It's also a bit early to start looking at playoff standings. But it's not too early to say the Phillies are in a much better spot than they were last season. They enter the weekend series in Washington with 15 more wins than they had last season through their first 71 games. The Phillies have 33 wins, a mark they didn't reach last season until July 22. The Phils have won seven of their last 10 and three straight series. The next 10 games — against the Nationals and Yankees — will tell us a lot.
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The Phillies were two outs from their seventh win in 10 games Wednesday when Adam Morgan entered from the bullpen to a soundtrack of boos. There is no denying that Morgan has struggled recently, with two ninth-inning flameouts this month. But it still seemed a bit strange to hear him get booed as he walked to the mound with the game on the line. Perhaps the fans were just anticipating what they assumed would happen after watching the Phillies bullpen this month. Morgan said he didn't hear the boos. He retired both batters he faced, and those jeers quickly turned to cheers. Jake Arrieta, who started Wednesday's game, seemed to have no trouble with the boos.
"Any time a guy struggles, one of your guys struggles, you want to see him go out there and have a couple good outings and kind of right the ship, get back on track and throw the way that they're capable of throwing," Arrieta said. "He's a very talented lefthander for us. We're going to need to lean on him in some big situations throughout the season, so it's nice to see him go out there and have some success today, get his first career save. Congratulations to him on that. Getting booed is tough, but we're professional athletes that play at the highest level and people expect great things from us, as we do of ourselves. It was nice to see him have a good one today."
The fans booed Arrieta in April after he issued a bases-loaded walk in his fourth start of the season. The pitcher had no problem with that, either.
"Yeah, I mean, who likes a bases-loaded walk?" Arrieta said then. "I would have booed it, too."
Bob Brookover talked to Adam Morgan, who was greeted by boos when he entered the game Wednesday and went on to record his first major-league save by picking up the final two outs of the ninth. Morgan had struggled Monday night in the ninth but found redemption Wednesday.
It was a good day to be Odubel Herrera. Gabe Kapler compared him to Ichiro Suzuki. and Jake Arrieta compared him to Vladimir Guerrero. Herrera went 3 for 4 yesterday with a go-ahead homer. He's heating up after a rough stretch.
J.P. Crawford has a fractured hand, but he will not need surgery and is optimistic he will return in four to six weeks. Crawford suffered his injury just when he began to look comfortable at the plate.
Jerad Eickhoff on Saturday will throw another bullpen session, which will serve as a key test to determine if the cortisone shot he received was effective at easing the inflammation in his wrist, which was causing his fingers to go numb when he pitched.
Today: Phillies Phestival at Citizens Bank Park, 4 p.m.
Tomorrow: Phillies open key series in Washington, 7:05 p.m.
Saturday: Aaron Nola Day in D.C., 4:05 p.m.
Sunday: Phillies play on ESPN's "Sunday Night Baseball," 8:05 p.m.
Monday: The Yankees come to Citizens Bank Park, 7:05 p.m.
It's been a while, but the Phillies will return to the national spotlight this weekend when they play on ESPN's "Sunday Night Baseball" against the Nationals. The Phils haven't been on Sunday Night Baseball since a 7-3 win over the Cardinals on April 21, 2013. The Phillies lineup that night was: Jimmy Rollins, John Mayberry Jr., Chase Utley, Ryan Howard, Michael Young, Domonic Brown, Ben Revere, Eric Kratz, and Kyle Kendrick. How things have changed.
Question: The Nats went out and acquired yet another shutdown closer for three low ceiling prospects. Is the fact the Phillies don't do that indicative of the fact they are still just playing for next year despite Gabe's protestations to the contrary? – Bill D., email
Answer: The Nationals traded for Kelvin Herrera, and it's hard to imagine that the Phillies didn't kick the tires on the former Royals closer. If the Phillies are still in good shape a month from now, it's almost guaranteed that they will go out and add a bullpen piece at the trade deadline. Here's what general manager Matt Klentak said earlier this week: