After another week of absentee offense, the Phils dropped into a tie for first, percentage points behind the Braves. After dropping 2 of 3 and scoring just 7 runs in Arizona, the Phils managed to do just as bad in San Diego…maybe worse.
The Phils faced a rookie in his first start on Friday but neglected to take advantage. Zach Eflin pitched 6 innings, allowing 5 hits and 2 runs but the offense was missing for the 2nd game in a row. Following the finale in Arizona, the Phils were shutout for the 2nd straight day. The Phils had 5 base runners in the first 2 innings but were unable to plate a run. The Padres didn’t miss on their first opportunity. Freddy Galvis singled home a run in the bottom of the 2nd and ultimately, that would be all the Padres needed. Instead, the got an insurance run in the 4th off the bat of Austin Hedges for a 2-0 lead. In the 7th and 9th, the Phils would get the first 2 runners on base but were unable to do anything, collecting 2 strikeouts and a ground out in both innings. The 7th inning specifically was yet another sign of Gabe Kapler overthinking. With 2 men on and Roman Quinn batting, the runners should have been bunted over. Instead, Quinn struck out as did Cesar Hernandez behind him. The inability (lack of concerted effort) to move runners up when needed will ultimately be one component why I don’t think this team will make the postseason. The 2-0 loss was not how they envisioned starting a series against the worst team in the N.L.
With Aaron Nola on the mound on Saturday, the Phils faced another rookie pitcher. This time, they took advantage…kinda. Nola pitched 6 innings of 4 hit, no run ball and got just enough help from the offense. Yup, it actually showed up. After a Nick Williams 1st inning RBI triple in the first, Asdrubal Cabrera double home Williams to give the Phils an early 2-0 lead. Nola struggled early but worked his way out of a few early jams before settling down. Maikel Franco homered down the left field line in the 4th to extend the lead to 3-0. Cesar Hernandez hit a homer of his own in the 5th and Carlos Santana knocked in a run on a fielder’s choice to cap the scoring. The Padres got on the board in the as a result of a sac fly but that would be all the scoring and the Phils would take game 2 by a 5-1 final, giving Nola his 13th win. Now that the offense showed up, could they cap the series on Sunday?
Nope! Jake Arrieta struggled with his command early and Freddy Galvis became the newest Phillie-killer. After working out of a first inning jam conceding just 1 run on a double play. Arrieta got lucky again in the 2nd thanks to some bad base running by the Padres which ultimately helped the Phils out of a jam. He wasn’t as luck in the 3rd. After loading the bases with a 2 out walk, Arrieta allowed a grand slam to Galvis (the first of his career) extending the lead to 5-0. Meanwhile the offense was MIA once again. Hunter Renfroe knocked in another run off Adam Morgan in the 7th for a 6-0 lead. The Phils finally strung some hits together and plated 3 in the 8th but it was too little too late. The Padres got all 3 runs back in the bottom of the 8th thanks to some more horrendous defense. Final score…9-3…and a series loss to a really bad team who threw 3 rookie starters at you. Did I mention the Phils allowed 6 stolen bases? Not good.
The Phils are now tied with the Braves but the Braves have 2 games in hand.
Offense– Let’s see. Justin Bour is 1-1 as a Phillie. Maikel Franco remained hot going 7-22. Hernandez got his bat going again going 7-23. Cabrera has also been hot since coming over. On the other hand…your 3-4 hitters went a combined 4-43 during the west coast trip with 8 walks and 10 K’s. Rhys Hoskins and Santana are killing the Phils and Kapler refuses to adjust. He moved Odubel Herrera down in the lineup but now it’s tame to make some additional moves to get some offense out of these guys. It does no good to have guys on base if you can’t move them up and ultimately, across the plate.
Pitching– The Phils went just 2-4 during the week but for the most part, it was not the pitchers’ fault. Arrieta had an up and down week. After an 8 inning, 3 hit, no run outing in Arizona which the Phils eventually lost in 14 innings, he followed it up with Sunday’s clunker. Vince Velasquez came down from his hot streak with a 4 inning, 4 run outing. Ultimately, it was still a winnable game but the offense was nowhere to be found. Nola, Eflin and Nick Pivetta all pitched well allowing 2 combined runs in 18 innings and got a 2-1 record out of it. The bullpen was good again for the most part but had it’s moments. Seranthony Dominguez coughed up the lead in the 9th after Arrieta shut down the D-backs an ultimately, the Phils lost in 14 innings. Austin Davis pitched 4 times during the week and allowed 1,1 and 3 runs respectively. Aaron Loup has faced 9 batters as a Phillie. He’s gotten 3 outs, allowed 2 runs on 2 hits, a walk and a hit batter. He sucks! Adam Morgan was also lit up allowing 4 hits, 1 walk and 2 runs in 4 innings of work. For some reason, Pat Neshek pitched just 1 inning in 1 game while Davis and Morgan were run out game after game. I honestly have no idea what Kapler’s thought process is with the bullpen at this point.
Around the N.L. East
Braves– The Braves did what they needed to do and split their series with the Nats. They weren’t able to gain any ground but they didn’t lose any either. Then, they returned home and beat up the Brewers. They won 2 of 3 games and jumped the Phils in the standings in the process. With 4 games against the Marlins at home (including a doubleheader Monday) and 4 more against the Rockies, it will be a long week for the Braves. Home cooking has not been the Braves forte this season so they’ll need to buck that trend this week and hope the Phils offense continues to falter.
Nationals– Unlike the Braves, the Nationals needed to do more than split their series. Things got worse with a trip to Chicago where the Cubs took 2 of 3 and kept the Nats staring 5.5 games up at the division leaders. This week starts with 4 games in St. Louis against a Cardinals team who have won 5 straight. Then, it’s 3 against the Marlins back in D.C. Every week that goes by without gaining ground is another week that they have to give some serious thought to a Bryce Harper trade before losing him for nothing.
Mets– The Mets faced off against 2 teams that are also at the bottom of the N.L. standings and took advantage, winning 4 of 6. After taking 2 of 3 at home against the Reds, the Mets went into Miami and took 2 of 3 from the marlins to widen the gap between the teams to 3 games. This week is one you won’t see too often. The Mets start the week with just one game in the Bronx against the Yankees. Then, it’s a trip down I-95 to Baltimore for 2 against the Orioles. To complete the week, they’ll head back up north to CBP for a 5 game series with the Phils, including a Thursday doubleheader. 1, 2 and 5 game series all in the same week? An interesting wee for an “interesting” team.
Marlins– The Cardinals and Mets both came to Miami and both left with 2-1 series wins. This week, gets worse as they head out on the road. The week starts with 4 games in Atlanta followed by 3 in D.C. Sitting at the bottom of the division, 18 games out, the Marlins can only hope to play spoiler at this point.
The Phils missed one opportunity in San Diego. They’ll get another later this week. First up though is 2 games with the Red Sox at home. The difference this time is they won’t have Nola and Arrieta taking on the best team in baseball. Nick Pivetta (vs. 3-3 Brian Johnson) and VV (vs. 14-5 Rick Porcello) will do the honors this time around where they will need to keep the Sox at bay. They’ll hope for another split but after the Padres series, probably need a miracle sweep to get some momentum back. Then, the Mets come to town for a 5 game series starting with a doubleheader Thursday. Nola will open things up with Zach Eflin returning from a short stint at Lehigh Valley to pitch game 2 of the DH. Arrieta and Pivetta will pitch games 3 and 4 with Sunday’s starter still TBD. The way this team has struggled to score of late, the Boston series will set the stage for the week and possibly the remainder of the season. This team needs a kick in the ass and this series could do it if they take advantage. A minimum of 4 out of 5 against the Mets is probably a necessity regardless of the result of the Sox series. This team needs to start beating up on bad teams. So far, they haven’t necessarily done that.