April 11, 2017
Shortly after the training staff, pitching coach Bob McClure, and manager Pete Mackanin came out to the mound with one out in the third inning, Clay Buchholz walked off the mound for the night.
Buchholz, who put the Phillies down by five runs in the game’s first two innings, has a right forearm strain. The 32-year-old veteran is almost surely headed to the disabled list.
"They said something about a strained flexor tendon," manager Pete Mackanin said. "They're going to give him an MRI (on Wednesday)."
To add insult to injury, the New York Mets continued their two-year-long home run derby at the Phillies home ballpark on Tuesday. Yoenis Cespedes hit three of the seven home runs Mets hitters collected off Phillies pitchers in a 14-4 rout.
New York out-hit the Phillies 20-8. They have out-homered the Phillies 44-15 in their last six series at Citizens Bank Park.
"Another embarrassing game against the Mets," Mackanin said. "We just made too many bad pitches and they didn't miss them."
The Mets have hit 46 home runs in their last 21 games at Citizens Bank Park.
And on Tuesday, none of the home runs were wall ticklers. They were all no-doubt-about-it blasts that had fans either running for cover or shocked a ball had traveled that far while enjoying a cold beverage at Ashburn Alley.
This is Mike Siers of Nags Head, NC. He caught Lucas Duda HR (448 ft.), over batters' eye, onto Ashburn Alley. Today is his 43rd birthday. pic.twitter.com/W15mMwaItM— Ryan Lawrence (@ryanlawrence21) April 12, 2017
That’s where Mike Siers and his wife, Stacy, were on Tuesday night. The couple from Nags Head, N.C., was in South Philly for the third trip in their ballpark tour after visiting Major League Baseball’s two Texas-bases teams last week.
Siers saw Lucas Duda’s 448-foot blast hit the very top of the ivy-covered brick wall beyond the center field fence (the batter’s eye) and backtracked to catch it on a bounce. Siers was able to fend off the dozen or so other fans that tried to track down the souvenir. It was his 43rd birthday.
Two innings earlier, 22-year-old Zack Cooper didn’t have the best of reflexes when his friend in front of him tried to catch Cespedes’ second home run, a line drive inside the left field foul pole that had visions of exiting the ballpark with a lucky bounce or two. Instead, the ball tipped off his buddy’s hand and hit him just above his left eyebrow.
This is Zach Cooper, 22, of Washington Township, N.J. He took that last Yoenis Cespedes' home run off his head. pic.twitter.com/yVXdFPDA96— Ryan Lawrence (@ryanlawrence21) April 12, 2017
There’s a chance that both of the pitchers who served up the majority of those home runs won’t be on the active roster when the Phillies return to the ballpark on Wednesday.
Buchholz, who the Phillies are paying $13.5 million this season after taking on his contract in a salary dump trade with Boston in December and has a 12.27 ERA after two starts, is unlikely to make his next start and could be replaced in the rotation by Zach Eflin if he’s placed on the disabled list.
Eflin, who was slowed this spring after undergoing surgery on each of his two knees, was activated from the DL on Tuesday and optioned to Triple-A Lehigh Valley. Eflin threw five shutout innings in the IronPigs 6-0 win over Scranton Wilkes-Barre on Tuesday night.
Left-hander Adam Morgan, the long man in the Phillies ‘pen, entered in relief of Buchholz on Tuesday. He faced 20 batters and allowed four home runs.
"I just left them over the plate," he said. "I tried to be too fine and got hurt."
Morgan, who has a 10.50 ERA after two appearances out of the Phils’ pen in the last week, was optioned to Triple-A Lehigh Valley after the game. Another roster move to replace him will be made before Wednesday's game.
A former starting pitcher, Morgan is in his first season as a reliever and was thrust into duty on Tuesday without warming up in the 'pen after Buchholz exited the game.
"It’s a challenge, but if you’re going to be in this league you’ve got to be up for that challenge," Morgan said. "You’ve got to be ready for it. Today was just unacceptable. I made a lot of mistakes over the plate, which I shouldn’t have. But the role is the role. You’ve got to be ready for the role."
When Buchholz left Tuesday’s game, it marked the second time in three days a Phillies starter had to exit early with an injury after Jeremy Hellickson left Sunday’s game with a cramp. Hellickson is expected to make his next start.
Buchholz can't be sure when his next start will come.
"I've pitched through some stuff in my career that I was able to get through, the last time this happened was in (2015) and I couldn't get through it," he said. "It's the worst thing ever to have to call out the trainer and your manager in the middle of an inning. I tried to get through it but I wasn't doing the team any favors throwing what I was throwing at that point."
In 2015, Buchholz made his last start of the season on July 11. It's unclear if his current injury will also keep him sidelined for two to three months, but the Phillies should know more at some point on Wednesday, before they try to avoid a series sweep against the Mets.
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