MIAMI (AP) – The Philadelphia Phillies’ rebuilding effort was fully on display in the second game of this series, with the eight starters other than Ryan Howard combining for 573 fewer major league games played than the Miami Marlins’ Ichiro Suzuki, who had 879 more under his belt than Howard.
Philadelphia’s young lineup has continued to produce sans Chase Utley, though, and it looks to do the same for 37-year-old Aaron Harang against the host Marlins on Saturday night.
Utley played his last game for the Phillies (48-74) against Toronto on Tuesday before he was dealt to the Los Angeles Dodgers the following night. That left Howard and veteran catcher Carlos Ruiz as the only players remaining from Philadelphia’s 2009 club that won the World Series.
The Phillies have scored seven runs in each of their first three games without Utley in the lineup after Friday’s 7-1 win over the Marlins (50-72). Howard had three doubles, rookie Odubel Herrera had two hits and starting pitcher Jerad Eickhoff – acquired in the non-waiver deadline trade that sent Cole Hamels to Texas – pitched six scoreless innings while adding a two-run single in his major league debut.
“There’s so many people that help you get here, and it’s just a testament of what they do,” Eickhoff said. “A lot of it is on them and the guys in this locker room. It’s just unbelievable.”
Harang (5-14, 4.79 ERA), meanwhile, is in the twilight of his career and has pitched like it recently. He hasn’t recorded an out in the sixth inning in four of his last five starts, posting a 9.72 ERA in that stretch while allowing at least six runs three times. His last four outings have come after a nearly month-long stay on the disabled list because of plantar fasciitis.
The right-hander, who leads the majors in losses, pitched at least 5 2-3 innings in all of his first 16 outings.
“I was getting guys out,” Harang said after allowing five of his six runs in the fifth inning of Sunday’s 6-1 loss to Milwaukee. “It just spiraled out of control really quick.”
Harang went 0-3 with a 6.15 ERA in six starts against the Marlins last season and is 1-4 with an 8.12 ERA in nine career outings at Miami. Marcell Ozuna is 6 for 15 with two homers and a double off Harang.
Suzuki, Dee Gordon and Justin Bour had two hits apiece Friday, but Derek Dietrich’s homer in the seventh accounted for the Marlins’ only run. Gordon is batting .520 during a six-game hitting streak and leads the majors with a .338 average for Miami, which had won four of its previous five after taking the opener of this four-game series 9-7 on Thursday.
Gordon is hitting .448 in seven games against the Phillies this season.
Justin Nicolino (2-1, 4.24) takes the mound for his fifth career start and third since being recalled from Triple-A New Orleans on Aug. 11. He allowed two runs in 6 2-3 innings of Monday’s 6-2 win over Milwaukee.
“I’m not an overpowering guy. I’m not going to punch out many people,” said Nicolino, who has seven strikeouts in 23 1-3 innings. “I had better command of (off-speed pitches) than my last couple of starts. For me, whenever I have command of those pitches, it is easier for me to go out there and get those outs.”
The left-hander gets his first look at the Phillies, who have won five of the last six meetings.
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