Inbox: Is the Phillies' offense going to pick up?

Beat reporter Todd Zolecki answers Philadelphia fans' questions

Inbox: Is the Phillies' offense going to pick up?

Are the Phillies really going to hit this way the entire season?
-- Corey K., Philadelphia

The offense should improve, but how much better it will get is an entirely different question. The Phillies are averaging 2.46 runs per game through 13 games, which would be the lowest single-season average in franchise history. The 1942 club averaged 2.61 runs per game, which makes it the only Phils team to finish a season averaging fewer than 3.22 runs per game.

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Todd Zolecki is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his Phillies blog The Zo Zone. Follow him on Twitter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Phillies Minor League report: April 20

Lehigh Valley IronPigs (3-9)
Lost their fifth straight, 4-3, on a pair of walks and a one-out single in the 15th inning at at Scranton/Wilkes-Barre . . . 3B Maikel Franco, 0-5 with 3 strikeouts, ending a 9-game hitting streak; hitting .347 . . . Starter Jason Berken, 5-4-2-2-2-6 . . . Hector Neris, 3-4-0-0-0-4 . . . LP: Adam Loewen (0-1), 2.1-2-1-1-5-1.

Next: RHP Severino Gonzalez (0-0, 4.63), 6:35 p.m. at Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.

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Larry Shenk is the vice president of alumni relations for the Phillies. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Buchanan makes strides, laments rocky inning

Right-hander locks up with Strasburg until Nationals' two-out surge in 5th

Buchanan makes strides, laments rocky inning

WASHINGTON -- For the second time in three starts, David Buchanan lost his way in an inning after picking up two quick outs. However, the Phillies right-hander didn't see a comparison between Sunday's 4-1 loss to the Nationals and a setback on April 9 against the Red Sox.

"I think you just have to really look at yourself and be honest with what happened," Buchanan said shortly after his third loss in as many starts. "Against the Red Sox, I wasn't really throwing strikes. I was falling behind. Eventually that's going to catch up to you. But today I thought I was throwing the ball in the zone, had some tough breaks."

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Ben Standig is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Offense slow to go against Nats' Strasburg

Offense slow to go against Nats' Strasburg

WASHINGTON -- Right-hander Stephen Strasburg was solid across 7 1/3 innings for his first win of the season, leading the Nationals past the Phillies, 4-1, at Nationals Park on Sunday afternoon.

Freddy Galvis continued to be a thorn in the Nationals' side. His RBI single in the eighth inning accounted for the Phillies' lone run and led to Strasburg's exit after 95 pitches.

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Bill Ladson is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, All Nats All the Time. He can be found on Twitter @WashingNats. Ben Standig is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Phillies open homestand against scuffling Marlins

Phillies open homestand against scuffling Marlins

The Marlins and Phillies will open a three-game series Tuesday night at Citizens Bank Park with both sides seeking a much-needed win. Miami has lost seven of nine and is coming off a four-game sweep by the Mets. Philadelphia has dropped seven of eight games, including three of four to the Nationals largely due to woes at the plate. The Phillies have scored two or fewer runs in four of their last five games.

Dan Haren gets the starting nod for Miami, and fellow right-hander Jerome Williams takes the mound for Philadelphia. The Phillies took last season's series from the Marlins, 11-8.

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Ben Standig is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Revere finds way to contribute amid struggles

Off to a slow start at the plate, Phillies outfielder scores go-ahead run as pinch-runner

Revere finds way to contribute amid struggles

WASHINGTON -- Ben Revere can't put his finger on why April has been such a tough month for him at the plate, but he realizes that his slow starts are an ongoing issue that's been difficult to shake.

"It's just one of those unlucky months," he said Saturday after finding out he wouldn't be in the Phillies' starting lineup against the Nationals. "I think this is the first time in April that I've hit the ball as hard as I have -- I don't know how many times I've lined out to guys, but that's the game of baseball."

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Elliot Smith is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Rupp confident in Phillies' starting 5

Harang's six-inning effort lowers rotation's ERA to 4.84

Rupp confident in Phillies' starting 5

WASHINGTON -- The Phillies' starters have had a rough start to the 2015 campaign, but for one of the men whose job it is to catch them, the numbers put up thus far can be easily remedied.

"It's a pitch here, a pitch there," catcher Cameron Rupp said. "It's been a little rocky start, but they can turn it around in one night, in one afternoon."

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Elliot Smith is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Revere lifts Phillies past Nationals with his legs

Revere lifts Phillies past Nationals with his legs

WASHINGTON -- Ben Revere scored the go-ahead run on a fielder's choice by Grady Sizemore as the Phillies defeated the Nationals, 5-3, at Nationals Park on Saturday afternoon.

The score was tied at 3 when the Phillies went ahead in the seventh inning. With Revere on third, one out and left-hander Matt Thornton on the mound, Sizemore hit into a fielder's choice, and Revere scored ahead of the throw from first baseman Ryan Zimmerman.

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Bill Ladson is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, All Nats All the Time. He can be found on Twitter @WashingNats. Elliot Smith is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Phillies come through in the clutch vs. Nationals

Phillies come through in the clutch vs. Nationals

WASHINGTON -- The Phillies entered Saturday as the second-worst hitting team with runners in scoring position, but it was a series of clutch efforts with runners on base that helped make a difference in their 5-3 triumph against the Nationals.

Philadelphia entered the game hitting just .154 (12-for-78) with runners in scoring position, so even going 3-for-12 in that category against Washington represented improvement. The Phillies also recorded productive outs, as well.

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Elliot Smith is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Umpire hit by pitch, leaves Phillies-Nats game in ninth

Umpire hit by pitch, leaves Phillies-Nats game in ninth

WASHINGTON -- Home-plate umpire Brian Knight had to leave the game between the Phillies and Nationals in the ninth after he was hit in the head by a pitch from Nationals right-hander Blake Treinen.

With Phillies infielder Freddy Galvis at the plate and Odubel Herrera at first base, Nationals catcher Jose Lobaton was looking for Treinen's sinker to go down in the zone, but the pitch stayed up, missed Lobaton's glove and hit Knight, who fell to the ground even though he had his mask on.

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Bill Ladson is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, All Nats All the Time. He can be found on Twitter @WashingNats. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Homers continue to be problem for Phillies' pitchers

Philadelphia has allowed 15 long balls in 11 games this season

Homers continue to be problem for Phillies' pitchers

WASHINGTON -- Phillies starter Sean O'Sullivan pitched effectively for most of his five-inning stint Friday night against the Nationals. There were just two pitches he'd love to have back.

The first came in the first when Bryce Harper smacked a 1-2 pitch over the center-field fence for a three-run homer. O'Sullivan wasn't as disappointed with the other pitch he'd like to have back, a solo homer to Danny Espinosa in the fourth, but those pitches were big reasons that Washington handed the Phillies a 7-2 loss, the team's sixth consecutive defeat.

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Jeff Seidel is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Sandberg looking to get work for relievers during struggles

Sandberg looking to get work for relievers during struggles

WASHINGTON -- Phillies manager Ryne Sandberg had another tough issue to deal with as his team took a five-game losing streak into Friday -- getting his bullpen enough work.

Sandberg put closer Jonathan Papelbon into Thursday's 5-2 loss to the Nationals, and the right-hander threw a scoreless inning. Papelbon last pitched five days before, and Sandberg said he needed to get into a game.

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Jeff Seidel is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Early homers send Phillies to sixth straight loss

Early homers send Phillies to sixth straight loss

WASHINGTON -- Max Scherzer earned his first victory in a Nationals uniform on Friday night, leading the club to a 7-2 victory over the Phillies. It was the third consecutive win for the Nats after a 2-6 start and set them up to clinch their first series win on Saturday afternoon.

After signing a seven-year, $210 million contract this offseason, Scherzer posted a 0.66 ERA through his first two outings but was 0-1. This time, the Nats backed up his stellar pitching with ample run support and solid defense.

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Andrew Simon is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @AndrewSimonMLB. Jeff Seidel is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Hamels: Early-season homers 'definitely adding up'

Hamels: Early-season homers 'definitely adding up'

WASHINGTON -- Cole Hamels threw effectively for most of his start against the Nationals on Thursday. He just ran into a problem that continues to arise early in the 2015 season.

Hamels gave up two homers in a 5-2 Phillies loss to the Nationals in the opener of a four-game series. The left-hander now has allowed a Major League-high seven homers in his first 18 innings.

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Jeff Seidel is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Homers continue to haunt Hamels as Phils fall to Nats

Homers continue to haunt Hamels as Phils fall to Nats

WASHINGTON -- The Nationals continued to break out of their early-season offensive funk with a 5-2 victory over the Phillies on Thursday night at Nationals Park. Washington has scored 22 runs in its past three games and has won two straight for the first time this season.

Yunel Escobar homered on the game's first pitch from Phillies starter Cole Hamels. Michael Taylor's fifth-inning solo home run gave Washington a 3-2 lead, and Ryan Zimmerman had a two-run double as the Nationals produced an efficient six hits.

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Damian Cristodero and Jeff Seidel are contributors to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Results lacking, but Sandberg likes balance of lineup

Results lacking, but Sandberg likes balance of lineup

WASHINGTON -- The song remained the same for the Phillies' offense in Thursday's 5-2 loss to the Nationals to start a four-game series.

The Phillies now are stuck in a five-game losing streak and have not been able to come through with hits at key times throughout the first two weeks of the season. It happened again Thursday, as the Phillies went 0-for-5 with runners in scoring position and stranded seven.

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Jeff Seidel is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Howard slotted 7th in Phils' order for first time since '06

Howard slotted 7th in Phils' order for first time since '06

WASHINGTON -- Phillies manager Ryne Sandberg shook up his batting order before the series opener with the Nationals on Thursday, and the biggest move was dropping struggling first baseman Ryan Howard to seventh in the starting lineup for the first time since 2006.

Howard went 1-for-3 with an intentional walk in Philadelphia's 5-2 loss to Washington. He twice flied out to left, drew the intentional walk that loaded the bases in a one-run third, and singled to right through a shift to start the ninth.

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Jeff Seidel is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Papelbon holds players-only meeting on Wednesday

Papelbon holds players-only meeting on Wednesday

NEW YORK -- Phillies closer Jonathan Papelbon had something on his mind Wednesday afternoon at Citi Field, so a few minutes before batting practice he hastily cleared the visitors' clubhouse of everybody except his teammates.

Once the doors closed he held a brief players-only meeting.

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Todd Zolecki is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his Phillies blog The Zo Zone. Follow him on Twitter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Herrera's big night not enough as Phillies fall to Mets

Herrera's big night not enough as Phillies fall to Mets

NEW YORK -- Lucas Duda and Travis d'Arnaud's first home runs of the year supported Jon Niese's first win as the Mets earned their first series sweep by topping the Phillies 6-1 on Jackie Robinson Day at Citi Field in their first game without David Wright.

Niese scattered nine hits, holding the Phillies to one run over 6 1/3 innings despite the best efforts of Odubel Herrera and Cody Asche. The pair combined for six hits and four doubles off Niese, but the lefty worked out of multiple jams and stranded eight runners. The Phillies left 11 men on base in all.

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Joe Trezza is an associate reporter for MLB.com. Todd Zolecki is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his Phillies blog The Zo Zone. Follow him on Twitter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Sandberg, Howard talk about impact of Robinson

Sandberg, Howard talk about impact of Robinson

NEW YORK -- The Phillies wore No. 42 jerseys Wednesday to celebrate Jackie Robinson Day at Citi Field.

Phillies manager Ryne Sandberg said he heard plenty of Robinson stories when Don Zimmer managed the Cubs from 1988-1991.

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Todd Zolecki is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his Phillies blog The Zo Zone. Follow him on Twitter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Williams vows not to take step back after loss to Mets

Williams vows not to take step back after loss to Mets

NEW YORK -- Jerome Williams stumbled Wednesday after he appeared to take a step forward last week against the Nationals.

He allowed 10 hits, five runs, one walk, two home runs and struck out one in five innings in Wednesday's 6-1 loss to the Mets at Citi Field. He had struggled terribly in his final three Spring Training starts, but allowed one run in six innings Friday in a victory over the Nationals. He could not build upon that success at Citi Field.

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Todd Zolecki is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his Phillies blog The Zo Zone. Follow him on Twitter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Howard seeing more fastballs, needs to make adjustments

Howard seeing more fastballs, needs to make adjustments

NEW YORK -- Phillies first baseman Ryan Howard has not started twice in the team's first nine games, including Wednesday's at Citi Field against Mets left-hander Jonathon Niese.

Both times Howard has sat against lefties.

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Todd Zolecki is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his Phillies blog The Zo Zone. Follow him on Twitter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Second rehab start another positive step for Billingsley

Veteran goes five scoreless at Triple-A; could be in Phillies' rotation by early May

Second rehab start another positive step for Billingsley

NEW YORK -- Phillies right-hander Chad Billingsley threw five scoreless innings Wednesday in his second rehab start with Triple-A Lehigh Valley. He allowed two hits, two walks and struck out three.

The veteran starter threw 73 pitches (44 strikes), and Billingsley said the plan is to make three more rehab starts, which would allow him to join the Phillies' rotation as early as the first week of May.

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Todd Zolecki is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his Phillies blog The Zo Zone. Follow him on Twitter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Phillies continue to look for lefty relief

Phillies continue to look for lefty relief

NEW YORK -- The Phillies employed a double-switch in the sixth inning Tuesday, but curiously chose not to have left-hander Jake Diekman, who was part of the switch, start the seventh inning to face Mets second baseman Daniel Murphy.

Murphy, who hits left-handed, homered against Phillies right-hander Dustin McGowan in the 6-5 loss.

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Todd Zolecki is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his Phillies blog The Zo Zone. Follow him on Twitter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Utley's 2 homers a big confidence boost

Utley's 2 homers a big confidence boost

NEW YORK -- Chase Utley's first week of the 2015 season will not be remembered as a strong one.

"Yeah, you could say that," Utley said. "It's not how you envision coming out of Spring Training."

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Todd Zolecki is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his Phillies blog The Zo Zone. Follow him on Twitter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.