Phillies top prospect Carlos Carrasco lasted just four innings and allowed six hits, including three homers, eight runs, three walks and a balk in yesterday’s 11-3 loss to Bowie.
After starting the season strong with Class-A Clearwater, the 20-year-old right-hander has a 5.95 ERA this month to go with 19 walks over just 22 2-3 innings. He's 3-1 with a 4.81 ERA overall since his Double-A promotion. Reading beat writer Mike Drago passes along word that pitching coach Tom Filer changed something during a recent bullpen session, but it obviously didn't work last night. Drago assures us there’s no reason to panic.
"He’s 20 years old, that’s it," Drago told Beerleaguer via e-mail. "Plus, if you look, he struggled when the Phils jumped him from Gulf Coast to Lakewood to start 2005, but he eventually got comfortable and figured it out. That’ll happen here, eventually."
Costanzo update: Today’s edition of the Reading Eagle also supplied a brief update on Mike Costanzo. The third baseman has reached base in 46 of his last 52 games and homered yesterday for the first time since July 6. On the season, Costanzo is hitting .241 with 18 homers, .800 OPS and 123 strikeouts. He’s been a much, much better hitter against right-handers (.884 OPS 17 HR /.581 OPS, 1 HR).
Nationals preview: It's been ages since the Phillies last saw the Nationals. They last met April 26, a Thursday afternoon game when Cole Hamels became a little unraveled and Shawn Hill picked up the win with eight strong innings. Hill would go on to make only three more starts before going on the DL with an injury to his non-pitching shoulder.
The Nationals have been decimated with injuries but have managed to hang tough, and are far off the 100-loss pace some fans had feared. Hill was having a great start before his injury. John Patterson is out, Nick Johnson is out, along with host of others from their bullpen and starting staff.
They’ve survived thanks in large to the workman efforts of pitching unknowns and cast-offs, guys like former Phillie farmhand Mike Bascik, who pitches Thursday, former Astros hurler Tim Redding, 24-year-old left-hander Matt Chico, who we’ll see tomorrow, as well as right-hander Jason Bergmann, who pitches tonight.
Bergmann has struggled mightily this month (8.04 ERA, .297 BAA), but has had some great outings, including a handful of dominant starts against the Phillies, Mets and Braves.
On the offensive front, the Nats took a low risk/high reward gamble on Dimitri Young, and the first baseman rewarded them with an All-Star first half, hitting .340/.395/.520 with 9 homers.
Chris Needham’s Capitol Punishment is where I go for Nats news. He names infielder Ronnie Belliard, recipient of a brand-new one-year contract extension, his MVP for the month. On the season, Belliard is batting .305 with 18 doubles, five home runs and 29 RBI in 85 games.
Last year’s Rookie of the Year Ryan Zimmerman appears to be emerging from his sophomore slump. "Zimmerman is finally hitting like the player we thought we'd have, and not like the huge disappointment he was early in the season. The power's not all the way there -- damn RFK -- but a .303/ .361/ .472 (for the month) is good enough, especially with some of those highlight plays he's made over the last week or so."
He names Chico his Cy Young winner for the month. Honorable Mention: Chad Cordero and his 0.82 ERA.
Meanwhile, the team continues to get minimal production from centerfield, catcher Brian Schneider and Austin Kearns, who’s been slumping.