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Phillies hoping to avoid 100 losses
By THE SPORTS XCHANGE
PHILADELPHIA — The Philadelphia Phillies are hoping to avoid 100 losses. They need one victory in their season-ending three-game series with the Miami Marlins to do that.
“Nobody wants to lose 100 games,” manager Pete Mackanin said after the Phillies (62-97) completed a three-game sweep of the New York Mets with a 3-0 victory on Thursday. “These last three were really good for everybody’s morale.”
Friday’s Philadelphia-Miami game was postponed by rain, and will be made up as part of a doubleheader on Saturday at 4:05 p.m ET. Aaron Harang (6-15) will pitch the first game for the Phillies, and Alec Asher (0-5) will work the second. They will be opposed by Justin Nicolino (4-4) and Tom Koehler (11-14), respectively.
The Phillies, last in the National League East, already have their most losses since going 65-97 in 2000, and are seeking to avoid their first 100-loss season since going 47-107 in 1961.
Out of the race since June, their season has been an extended voyage of discovery. The Phillies have discarded veterans like second baseman Chase Utley, outfielder Ben Revere and pitchers Cole Hamels and Jonathan Papelbon along the way, and given long looks to young players.
Center fielder Odubel Herrera, a rule-five signee from the Texas Rangers in the offseason, has been the biggest surprise, hitting .290. That is the best average among their regulars, and while Herrera’s 128 strikeouts are second on the team to Ryan Howard’s 138 — making him one of four Phillies to fan over 100 times — he would have to be viewed as a keeper, as the rebuilding process moves forward.
So too would pitcher Aaron Nola, last year’s No. 1 draft pick. The right-hander went 6-2 in 13 starts after he was promoted from Triple-A Lehigh Valley in July, having sped through two levels of the minor leagues this season. The Phillies, not wishing to over-tax him, shut him down with seven games remaining.
On Thursday another rookie righty, Jerad Eickhoff, continued to state his case for a spot in next season’s rotation by going seven scoreless innings to beat the Mets. Acquired from the Texas Rangers in the Hamels trade on July 31, Eickhoff (3-3) allowed four hits, struck out 10 for the second straight game and walked just one.
Eickhoff joined Hamels as the only Phillies rookies to record back-to-back double-digit strikeout games since 1964. He also became the first Phillies rookie to work seven innings or more and allow two earned runs or fewer in four straight starts since Ben Rivera in 1992.
Eickhoff later said he accomplished everything he set out to do in his eight starts with the Phillies.
“The biggest thing was, I just wanted to compete, no matter what the numbers show,” Eickhoff said. “I wasn’t worried about (statistics). I just wanted to go deep in the game and give this team, this locker room, a chance and show them I could compete to the best of my ability. I think I accomplished that, aside from numbers and all that.”