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July 07, 2016

Story-book ending: Rockies rookie halts Phillies win streak

The Phillies second four-game winning streak in the last 11 days came to an end on Thursday night in Denver.

But with former struggling starter-turned-bullpen arm Adam Morgan making a spot start at baseball’s least pitcher-friendly ballpark and the Phillies offense due for a quiet night after scoring four or more runs in eight of their previous nine games, perhaps this was far from unexpected.

Morgan, on the mound on Thursday since the Phillies decided to give Aaron Nola an extended All-Star break, had allowed eight runs on 21 hits in his last two starts before being replaced in the rotation by Vince Velasquez. Morgan and Coors Field were not a good match.

Colorado rookie shortstop Trevor Story ripped two home runs off Morgan – a three-run shot in the third, a solo shot in the fifth – as the Rockies (39-46) handed the Phillies (40-47) an 11-2 defeat. The loss was just the second for the Phillies in their last 10 games.

After scoring 24 runs in their four-game winning streak (and hitting 11 home runs in the process) the Phils bats did not take advantage of the physics in Denver. As the Rockies own website touts, the ball “travels 9 percent farther at 5,280 feet than at sea level. It is estimated that a home run hit 400 feet in sea-level Yankee Stadium would travel about 408 feet in Atlanta and as far as 440 feet in the Mile High City.”

Story, a worthy heir to six-time Rockies All-Star shortstop Troy Tulowitzki, does appear to be a good match for Coors Field. Story has 21 home runs in 78 games this season; only eight players in baseball have hit more home runs this season.

Story was selected in the first round of the 2011 draft, arguably one of the most talented first-round draft classes in recent history. Story went 45th overall (supplemental first round), six picks after the Phillies chose Larry Greene (who retired last spring) and four picks after the Tampa Bay Rays chose current Phillies outfielder Tyler Goeddel. (But really, go click on that '11 first round, it's chock full of a lot of the game's best young stars).

The Phillies optioned Morgan to Triple-A Lehigh Valley following Thursday's game. Veteran reliever Andrew Bailey is eligible to be activated off the disabled list on Friday. The Phillies will have to make another move this weekend when Rule 5 left-hander Daniel Stumpf rejoins the team Sunday, when his 80-game suspension for testing positive for PEDs expires.

 Adam Morgan doesn’t have the highest ERA among major league starting pitchers who have pitched at least 60 innings. He has the third highest. Morgan has a 6.89 ERA in 12 starts this season. The only two major league starting pitchers with a higher ERA: Detroit’s Anibal Sanchez (7.23), who still has more than $30 million coming to him on his contract, and Arizona’s Shelby Miller (7.14), who was a part of easily the worst trade of last offseason.

 Ryan Howard hit his 12th home run of the season and the 369th of his career, moving him into a tie with former Rockies icon Todd Helton and Hall of Famer Ralph Kiner for 78th on baseball’s all-time home run list. Next up? Gil Hodges (370 home runs). Howard finished Thursday’s game 2-for-4.

  Maikel Franco failed to hit a home run for the first time in five games. Franco, who doesn’t turn 24 until August, became the youngest player in the 134-year history of the Phillies franchise to hit a home run in four consecutive team games. The previous record holder: Don Hurst (1929), who was just a few days short of his 24th birthday when his streak ended. Franco, meanwhile, is the fourth-youngest ML player this season to hit a home run in four straight games, joining Trevor Story (4/4-8), Bryce Harper (4/14-17), and Miguel Sano (5/25-29). All four players are 23-years old (but Franco turns 24 before the rest of that trio).

  • A fun day in the Gulf Coast League for Phillies fans: 18-year-old Mickey Moniak, the first overall pick of the MLB draft last month, hit his first pro home run. And Dominican slugger Jhailyn Ortiz, who is six months younger than Moniak, homered for the third time in his last four games. In the same game Ortiz homered (those rascally Gulf Coasters had a split squad, apparently), third-rounder Cole Stobbe and 11th-rounder Josh Stephen each collected a pair of hits.

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