The Phillies headed to San Francisco on Thursday night with some energy after rallying to take the series finale at Dodger Stadium. Aaron Nola outlasted Clayton Kershaw, Seranthony Dominguez was Seranthony Dominguez, and Maikel Franco still hasn't touched home plate. The win gave the Phillies a series split with the Dodgers, which Gabe Kapler said would give the Phils a "a much different flight" up the California coast. The road trip continues against the Giants, and then the Phillies will be off to Wrigley Field. Another test awaits.
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The Phillies knew almost immediately that Maikel Franco never stepped on home plate when he scored the team's first run Thursday in the second inning. Franco knew it, too.
So what did he do? The Phils were in L.A., so Franco did his best James Dean and coolly strutted to the dugout. He sold it like a Hollywood star.
"I didn't know if the ball was right in front of the catcher, so I didn't have any choice," Franco said, unaware that the ball had skipped away. "I didn't go back because he might have the ball right there. If I try to go right back, I'm probably going to be out. I walked to the dugout and just saw what would happen."
The umpire ruled Franco safe. And the Dodgers didn't blink. Franco's performance gave them no reason to think otherwise. The play wasn't challenged, and the Phillies had a run off Clayton Kershaw. Aaron Nola took the blame, saying he was standing on deck but didn't tell Franco to slide because he didn't expect there to be a play at the plate. If Franco had been ruled out, Gabe Kapler might have had an argument that Dodgers catcher Yasmani Grandal was blocking the plate. But it never got to that point.
"I thought I didn't see him touch it. I was like, ahh. But nobody said anything so I was like, 'OK. Maybe he did.' But that was pretty crazy," Phils outfielder Aaron Altherr said. "I thought for sure they would challenge that or something. He wasn't even close, right? That's incredible. It looked kind of weird. Everybody noticed it. Even Maikel was like, yeah, I didn't touch it."
The Phillies scored their second run in the seventh when Scott Kingery scored from first on a double by Jorge Alfaro. Kingery made certain his foot touched the plate.
"That's kind of like a fear for me to have an easy run to score and have it taken away," Kingery said. "Even on home runs, in the back of my head, I'm like, 'It's automatic as long as I touch all the bases.' So I put my foot down and touch them."
Aaron Nola was excellent Thursday to win the series finale against the Dodgers. This, as Kapler likes to say, was Noles being Noles.
Rhys Hoskins is headed to the disabled list, but the Phillies caught a break because his fractured jaw will not require surgery. Nick Williams and Aaron Altherr will be the greatest beneficiaries of Hoskins' time away, as both will have a chance to prove their worth with everyday playing time.
JoJo Romero is a name to know in the minor leagues. The pitching prospect, Scott Lauber writes, is finding success by keeping it simple.
Tonight: Nick Pivetta opens series in San Francisco, 10:15 p.m.
Saturday: Vince Velasquez vs. Andrew Suarez, 10:05 p.m.
Sunday: Jake Arrieta Day, 4:05 p.m.
Monday: Phillies hold third pick in MLB draft, 7 p.m.
Nick Williams went 2 for 3 on Thursday as he ended May batting .293 with a .955 OPS. He spent the month as a part-time player, and it's going to be interesting to see what he can do in a full-time role. Imagine if he's able to maintain this success.
Question: How likely is it that Phillies would replace a now floundering Zach Eflin with Enyel De Los Santos? Also, is there a chance that Brandon Leibrandt could join the bullpen to add another left handed arm at some point? – Joseph G., email