The series that Mother Nature seemed to not want to happen, saw the first two games between the Philadelphia Phillies (39-32, 2nd Place NL East), and the Washington Nationals (33-38, 3rd Place) rained out in D.C. The first game was made up as the day portion of a Day/Night DH. The second will be the same on 9/24/19 when the Nats make their only visit to Philly the rest of the season. The Phillies were trying to bounce back from a disappointing series loss against the Atlanta Braves.
That bounce went flat, and I think the tweet below pretty much sums up this series sweep by Natinals:
Flip flimmy frollopy wop blimey knock wobbers, mates! Tea and ham and mollopy blipe biscuits for every bloke upon a stone. #phillies
While the Phillies and Nationals were putting out RFAs for an Ark, everybody else in MLB was playing and I would be remiss if I did not note this milestone for a favorite ex Phillie. Fittingly I use @2008Phlz to get it going, and The Athletic‘s Jayson Stark to add his usual tidbit.
Game 1 of Day/Night DH: Offense still waiting for the rain to stop
The game started well for the Phils when Scott Kingery hit his 9th HR of the season with two outs in the first.
They should have known this would not be their day though, when Zach Eflin (6-7, 2.83 ERA) could not get the SDI. A one out 2B, an E on the aforementioned Kingery, and a single tied the game. Eflin has been easily the best Phillies pitcher the last few weeks, so this was very disappointing as well as a momentum killer.
Both Eflin and Nats starter LHP Patrick Corbin (6-5, 3.90) would be in control the next few innings. Corbin was especially good in this game totally baffling Phillies hitters with low 90’s FBs, low to mid 80’s sliders, and an occasional hook.
DC would add a single run in the 4th on an RBI 2B by 7 hole hitter OF Gerardo Parra (7).
The real turning point of the game came in the top of the 6th where Bryce Harper started the inning with a walk. Kingery followed with a single to CF, and the typically aggressive Harper tried to go 1st to 3rd. Unfortunately he had a bit of a hesitation, and CF Parra was able to get him at 3rd, which held up upon review.
Manager Gabe Kapler took his usual positive stance on the play “Ultra-aggressive baserunning play,” Kapler said. “I really liked it. A slight hesitation around second base, and he’s out at third base. … Parra came up and did everything perfectly. … I really like the baserunning play … Not questioning the decision at all. I really think he’s safe if he doesn’t hesitate.”
Most fans on twitter, including this scribe, did not quite see it that way. Making the first out at 3B has always been a no-no for a reason, and one can’t take that chance in the 6th and a one run deficit, without being absolutely sure you can make it. It was too close, IMHO.
Anyway now instead of 1st and 2nd, no outs and the makings of a big inning, it was man on first and one out. A single and two ground outs followed, which easily could have scored at least one run.
To make matters worse the gNats would of course tack on another run in the bottom of the inning.
That was the end of the QS for Eflin, 6In, 5H, 3R – 2 earned – 3BB, 7K, 0HR, 90P – 59 for strikes. He deserved better.
Corbin meanwhile was having one of his best games in quite a while, he gave up 7, 3, and 6 ER in his last three outings, a 4.11 era coming in, going a solid seven, 4H, 1R – earned – 3BB, 8K, 1HR, 101P – 63 for strikes.
The Nats put this one out of reach in the 8th with two HRs off of Cole Irvin, the first a 2R shot by 2B Brian Dozier (11), followed by Parra (5). Most of the damage was done by these six and seven hole guys with 5 RBIs total. That is not the part of this DC order that is supposed to beat you.
A Brad Miller 3B – his 2nd hit in as many games for the Phillies – knocked in the last run of the game in the 9th, to make the final 6-2.
FTR, RHP Tanner Rainey earned a H(4).
Game 2 – the Nightcap:
The gNats got on the board first when that pesky Dozier (12) kid took Jake Arrieta (6-6, 4.12) deep on a 3-2 sinker that didn’t, for a solo shot in the 2nd.
Nationals RHP Max Scherzer ( 6-5, 2.62) got the start despite the broken nose he suffered in BP the day before. That only seemed to make him more “mad” and stronger. His FB would average just over 96 MPH, the fastest he had thrown in almost four years.
This turned out to be a real pitcher’s duel as by the time the sixth inning was done, the only run scored was the HR given up by Jake.
In the 7th, Cesar Hernandez (16) smacked a lead-off 2B, their only XBH of the night off of Max.
Scherzer would then K the next two, and then J.T. Realmuto, PH for Arrieta, suffered the same fate.
Both pitchers did a great job, Scherzer’s only real mistake was the Hernandez 2B, Arrieta’s the Dozier HR.
Pat Neshek got welcomed back with a one out solo shot by CF Victor Robles (10) in the 8th. Then an out later he was pulled mid-batter with another injury.
And that was the way this one ended. 2-0.
For Washington, RHP Wander Suero would get a H(6), and LHP Sean Doolittle had an easy 1-2-3 S(15).
For the second game in a row, the Nationals broke on top first, this time on a Anthony Rendon 2B (20), followed by another by Juan Soto (14) off of Nick Pivetta (4-2, 5.54). Soto kept it from being a bigger inning, by trying to take third on a ball rattling around the infield.
The Phillies returned the favor when Kingery, who had singled and then stole second to start the inning, tried to score on a two out IF single, and was thrown out easily. Even Scotty Jet Pax is not that fast. That got DC starter RHP Erick Fedde (1-1, 3.79) off the hook.
What the Phillies failed to do, scoring after a bad play by the opponent, the Nats did the next inning with a 2R HR just inside the LF line by C Kurt Suzuki (8). It was his fifth of the season against the Phillies. Despite two more walks after that, Pivetta got out of the inning with no more damage, but a ton of pitches.
The Phils finally found a way to get on the board in the fourth. It started with B2B one out singles by Hernandez and Maikel Franco. After a failed bunt by Pivetta, Harper – leading off this game in a lineup shake-up – singled as well to score Cesar. A BB to Hoskins later and Fedde’s night was done after 3.2 innings. They added another run on the Jay Bruce single, but again Harper maybe too aggressive, gets thrown out at the plate, ending another inning. 3-2 after 3.5.
After Pivetta got the 1-2-3 SDI, Jean Segura tied the game up on his 7th HR in the top of the 5th, as the rain started once again in Washington.
Pivetta had really settled down after those first two tough innings until Rendon’s 17th HR untied the game in the 6th. A GO, single and a BB later, Nick went from the rain to the showers – 5.1 In, 7H, 6R – all earned – 3BB – 2K, 2HR, 92P – 57 for strikes. Edubray Ramos added the last two to Pivetta’s line on a 3R HR to Robles (11) – once again a bottom of the order guy killing Phillies pitchers.
The Phillies would score one more time the next inning on a Bruce solo shot (20) to make the final 7-4.
Nationals starter Fedde only lasted 3.2 inning so could not get the W, even though ahead when he left. That fell to veteran RHP Javy Guerra (1-0, 3.07). Pivetta with a little padding from the 2 IR scored on Ramos HR, got the L. For the Nationals Suero and Doolittle added to their H (7) and S (16) totals respectively.
That HR given up by Ramos was the NL leading 124th of the season, 4th in MLB. The next closest are the Houston Astros at 112, and the San Francisco Giants at 110 in NL. That would not be so bad but offensively they are 23rd in MLB, and 12th in NL so they are not making up for it that area. This was supposed to be a power packed lineup playing in a leaning to offensively friendly ballpark so that has to be considered a major problem for this club right now. The offense is still getting into good hitter’s counts, but very flustratingly doing little with them. They are not hitting the other pitcher’s mistakes, while it seems every one by a Phils hurler leaves the yard.
As I tweeted after the DH sweep, saying #FireKapler may be a great diuretic for upset Phillies Phans, and fodder for talk show hosts, but will do little to help the ball club turn this around. Get healthy & back to a regular batting order and rotation, add some key pieces in the coming weeks, and this club could easily be back to what it was early this season. This may not be a popular opinion right now, but it is what I believe.
The Phillies return home to face the Miami Marlins ( , Last Place NL East) There should be big crowds with Friday night being the Chase Utley retirement jawn, and Saturday has a Brett Eldredge concert afterwards. At this posting after all the craziness in DC, Saturday and Sunday are still TBD for Phillies starters.
Though I was born a few blocks from what was to be the NY Worlds Fair/Shea Stadium/Forrest Hills Complex, my parents saved me from being a NY fan by moving to Elkins Park in 1955, when I was 6 months old. I have been living and dying w/ Philly sports teams ever since. Now over 60 , I bring an older, but hopefully not stodgy, spin to this blog. By day I am a mild mannered controller/IT guy for a family business, but by night you will either find me @ CBP at least 17 games a season, and most other nights yelling at my tv as if they can hear me. Though I attend many other local sports, my main love has always been baseball, and my focus here is the Phillies, but I am also part of the team covering the Philadelphia Union.