Not normal, but not bad for Franco, Phils
PHILADELPHIA » Maikel Franco admitted it was a “weird” night at Citizens Bank Park Friday, and no, that’s not because he hit a home run.
Franco, his playing time of late limited with the experiment of rookie J.P. Crawford playing at third base, found his power stroke, which helped the Phillies to a 6-2 win over the New York Mets.
Franco’s homer, his 22nd of an overall disappointing season, came in the second inning and gave the previously trailing Phillies a 2-1 lead.
They wouldn’t trail again.
The Phillies scored twice in the third, keyed by an Odubel Herrera sacrifice fly and a weird balk by Mets pitcher Matt Harvey when he dropped the ball in mid-delivery, freeing Nick Williams to trot home with a fourth run. Homers by catcher Jorge Alfaro and Cesar Hernandez wrapped up the scoring for the Phillies and gave Ben Lively (4-7) a win to pin some spring training hopes on.
But as for the weirdness it had less to do with Franco and Harvey balks and more to do with manager Pete Mackanin, who was announced before the game as overseeing his last series as the Phillies’ bench boss.
Mackanin will serve as a “special assistant” next season to general manager Matt Klentak.
“It’s really weird. Sunday, it’ll be difficult,” Franco said about the managerial situation. “But you know, he give everything out there that he have. He’s a good person, a good manager and I just want to say good luck in everything he can do.”
Mackanin returned the compliment about Franco, who two years ago looked like a successor to Ryan Howard as a run-producing power hitter, but struggled mightily this season to find his swing, his future with the club now in question. Franco is hitting just .230 with the 22 homers and 72 RBIs.
“We still have a lot of confidence in him,” Mackanin said. “He needs to make an adjustment, and when he does, I think he’s going to be good. I think he’s going to become a better hitter; that’s all he’s got to do, is become a little better disciplined. Not swing as hard.”
The Phillies had several good swings at Harvey, who is a shell of his old self due to injuries. He dropped to 5-7 with a 6.70 ERA.
Once again, the Phillies bullpen did well in relief of Lively, with Hector Neris earning his 26th save.
And as for Mackanin ... he said he did what he could to keep the game as normal as possible.
“Once the game starts, I’m managing,” he said.
••• Prior to the game, veteran catcher Cameron Rupp wasn’t speculating on a replacement next season for Mackanin, but he agreed that it’s possible for the club to go from a player’s manager now to someone with more of an edge next time.
“You don’t know their thought process,” Rupp said. “If (Klentak) says he wants a different guy, that could be, younger. Or maybe a little more new school rather than oldschool baseball that Pete came from and (Larry) Bowa and all those guys that have been around a while. That could be a whole different variety of options.”