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Phillies Notebook: Cristopher Sanchez delivers career night as offense struggles

PHILADELPHIA — Cristopher Sanchez might be starting to get used to success, but he’s still enjoying the rush it brings him.

Friday night, Sanchez took in a new thrill, pitching a three-hit shutout with nine strikeouts to lead the Phillies to a 2-0 victory over the Miami Marlins. It’s only June, but Sanchez has gone from last year being a hopeful to stick in the rotation to this year hoping to stick as a No. 4 starter to now being just a bit more …

“You know, I’m so proud of this kid, because he’s come so far,” Phils manager Rob Thomson said. “Now, he’s a dominant pitcher, really, in major league baseball. If you saw him a couple of years ago … I didn’t think he’d be able to do it. He’s working hard, he’s trusting his coaches in the minor leagues and his coaches here.”

Sanchez, 27, was never in trouble Friday in cruising to his first career complete game, in only 101 pitches. He improved his record to 6-3, his ERA falling to 2.41.

“It was incredible,” Sanchez said through an translator. “This is my first complete game as well, and it’s an incredible feeling. It’s amazing. I thank Stubby (catcher Garrett Stubbs) as well, for his work behind the plate. We’re a team.”

• • •

If you take Kyle Schwarber and Bryce Harper out of the lineup and replace them with Johan Rojas and Kody Clemens … what do you get?

Thomson and the Phillies offered a first glimpse Friday. Suffice to say the only fireworks came after the game, with one glaring exception.

Rojas, who spent the past couple of weeks trying to re-learn how to hit at Triple-A Lehigh Valley, struck out in his first two at bats. But on a 2-2 count in his third try, he bounced a ball up the middle that found a crease into center field. When Marlins centerfielder Vidal Brujan dawdled to the ball, Rojas turned on the jets for a double.

Rojas then saw a ball in the dirt dribble a few feet away from catcher Ali Sanchez, enough for him to take third with no one out. He went dashing home on Bryson Stott’s fly to left, good for a sacrifice fly and insurance run.

So it was a 1-for-3 night of promise for Rojas, who was sent down on June 17 with a plan to help him at least threaten to get on base. With the Phillies this year, he is hitting only .235.

Although Rojas’ time with the IronPigs was limited, Thomson claimed Rojas did “everything we wanted him to do” in Lehigh Valley. His walking orders?

“To see pitches, grind out at bats, use the field, use the speed game with running, cut down his swing – he did all that,” Thomson said. “He’s proven to us that he has the aptitude to be able to do that, he has the physical capabilities to do that and hopefully it continues here.”

Clemens struck out twice while going 0-for-3. This first game without the two power hitters was good enough for Sanchez but not great for the offense. Thomson indicated before the game that both Clemens and Rojas would play almost daily roles while Harper and Schwarber recover. Both are expected to miss 10 to 14 days.

“It’s just go day to day,” he said of the Phillies’ agenda before the game. “Today, Kody is going to be at first base, he’s been swinging the bat great, and Rojas, as I’ve always stated, if he’s here, he’s going to play most of the time.”

• • •

After talking here and there about how the Phillies will count on their bench for support while he and Schwarber are out with their injuries, Harper found another way to say it at the end of his Friday afternoon interview.

“It’s next-man-up mentality,” he said. “I think we’ve done a great job of that all year long. We’ve got a couple of guys coming up; (Clemens) is back and Rojas is back. So pony up, cowboy up and play the game!”

Yee … ha?

Source: Berkshire mont

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