Phillies Carlos Santana’s work with Maikel Franco paying off

In the bottom of the first inning on Wednesday night, Phillies center fielder Odubel Herrera stepped to the plate. With two outs, he was able to draw a four-pitch walk.

He advanced to second on a throwing error by Giants pitcher Chris Stratton. First baseman Carlos Santana brought him home on the very next pitch, a double deep to right field. 

Next up was Maikel Franco. The often criticized third baseman went down 0-2 in the count and then battled back. He took two balls to even the count at 2-2 and then dribbled a single up the middle to give the Phillies a quick 2-0 lead. They went on to win 11-3. 

The way the Phillies have been able to manufacture runs this season like in this situation is what’s propelled them to their 21-15 record. 

Franco’s resurgence is a big part of it. He went 3-for-5 with a career-high-tying five RBIs. He also notched his seventh home run which moved him into a tie for ninth place in the National League. 

“Franco is great,” Santana said. “He’s working hard. He’s been working hard with me. Today he worked early in the field, doing extra workouts. He feels comfortable. He’s a great player with great ability.”

Santana’s addition has done wonders for Franco. The two have become best friends on and off the field since Santana was signed back in December. As both sluggers hail from the Dominican Republic, the two have a lot in common and are feeding off of each other’s success. 

Through 31 games this season, Franco is batting .291 with seven home runs and 28 RBI. Through 31 games last season, he was batting just .208 with five round-trippers and 25 RBI. His ability to work counts and manufacture hits this season has the Phillies playing on a higher level. 

“Really important to have another right-handed hitter right in the middle of our lineup that can do that kind of damage,” Phillies manager Gabe Kapler said. “It’s been nice to see Maikey come to life.”

Since April 17, Franco is batting .338 with five homers, 13 RBIs, and a .966 OPS in 19 games. They’ve gone 11-8 as a team in that time and his batting average has soared by .047 points. 

“You give Rhys [Hoskins] a night off, Scotty [Kingery] a night off and everybody else just piles on,” said Phillies right-hander Nick Pivetta, who pitched five scoreless innings. “We’re rolling right now. Everybody is swinging the bat really well.”

The Phillies finish their four-game series with the Giants on Thursday. They start a three-game series with the Mets on Friday. Thursday’s game will air on Facebook, while the Mets series will air on NBC Sports Philadelphia. 

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