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Friday, May 20, 2016

Rough night for Franco as Phillies fall to Braves

Maikel Franco entered Friday hitting just .210 for the month of May.
If you were to have surveyed people around baseball prior to the start of the season and asked their opinion on what would need to happen for the Phillies to be successful you would have heard, almost in unison, Maikel Franco's name mentioned.

Surprisingly, the Phillies are achieving success but their doing it despite Franco. The club entered Friday seven games over .500, but he was hitting just .210 for the month of May.

Franco collected one hit in Friday night's 7-1 loss to the Braves at Citizens Bank Park, but he also committed two errors -  one costly in the seventh, setting the table for a three-run Braves' seventh inning.

"Everybody usually goes through a stretch where they aren't playing their best and Maikel is in the spot right now," Manager Pete Mackanin said. "I think he's letting his at-bats carry over into his defense a little bit. He's been working extra and doing everything we want him to do, but he needs to get out of this funk he's in and put together a good game or two in a row and get back on track."

Through the first eight games of the current homestand the Phillies are averaging less than three runs a game. Mackanin has said several times this season that he's frustrated by the lack of offense and handcuffed to the players right now on the 25-man roster, so he needs a guy like Franco to breakout of his slump at the plate.

"I'd like to do better, but today is just one day," Franco said. "I have to come out tomorrow and try better, that's just part of the game. I have to forget today and be ready to go tomorrow and do the best I can for my team."

Cesar Hernandez singled in the first and advanced to third on a Franco double. He then scored on a Ryan Howard grounder to short, giving the Phillies their only run of the evening.

For the Braves, the night belonged to Freddie Freeman. He hit a pair of two-run home runs, marking the seventh multi-homer game of his career. Nick Markakis also homered in the winning effort for Atlanta.

Aaron Nola pitched well for the Phillies, tossing seven innings while surrendering five runs (two earned) on seven hits. He collected six strikeouts and walked just two.

"The two two-run home runs hurt me tonight," Nola said. "I made a couple of mistakes leaving those balls to Freddie over the plate a bit too much when I wanted to go further inside."

The two clubs are scheduled to continue their three-game set on Saturday afternoon, but the weather forecast likely won't cooperate as heavy rain is expected to move into the Philadelphia area mid-morning.
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BY PATRICK GORDON
Managing Editor
pgordon@philadelphiabaseballreview.com