Phillies Phriday Phill-Ins are Back! Thanks to Seamus Killeen for doing double duty these last two weeks while I recharged in the peaceful beauty that is the Northern Maine Bold Coast.
It was yet another SMH series for the Philadelphia Phillies (71-62) against the trying to post fire-sale surge, Washington Nationals (67-67). Once again they only won one game of a series, while committing a succession of Little League worthy plays in the field and on the base paths, and blown leads galore.
Game 1:100th Error
The turning point of this game came in the fourth inning, right after the Phillies had tied the game at two.
Those two runs started as per the Phillies MO, with a BB to Nick Williams. The, running out of adjectives for fast, Roman Quinn smacked his 2nd 3B of the season. Two batters later Cesar Hernandez brought him home with a single.
Much like up in Toronto and the rest of this series though, SDI’s were hard to come by.
It got to the point in the inning when Phillies Manager Gabe Kapler had Zach Eflin (9-5, 3.99 ERA) semi-intentionally BB the eight hole hitter, to load the bases with one out, setting up a DP, or at least a force at home.
Instead they wound up giving away a run as Eflin threw away the easy out at home on RHP Stephen Strasburg‘s (7-7, 4.15) bunt. That was the 100th E by the Phillies, second most in MLB.
They did get the second out of the inning via the home plate out route, but an error that will not show in the box score by Rhys Hoskins , who broke back on a fly ball and could not recover, let the eventual winning run score.
The Nats and Phillies traded one more run, the Phils on Hoskins 27th HR of the season, for the final of 5-3.
Eflin put up a pedestrian 5.1In, 8H, 5R – 2 unearned – though Zeflin “earned” at least one of them – 5K, 2BB, 102P – 68 for strikes.
Strasburg was good but still not his best self in his second start off the DL, giving up two runs in 6In, 5H, 5K, 3BB. Justin Miller got his first S of the season. second of his career.
On the positive side, the pen of LHPs Luis Avilan, Adam Morgan, and RHP Luis Garcia, did not give up a run, 1H, 3K, 3BB in 3.2 in. Morgan looked especially sharp with 2In, 0H, 1BB, 2K.
Otherwise it was just another flustrating night in the soupy South Philly air, also dropping my 2018 CBP record to 8-4.
Game 2:Nola Gem Wasted
Cy Young hopeful Aaron Nola (15-3, 2.10) and 9-0 at home, pitched well enough at CBP once again to get his 16th W, 7In, 4H, 2R – 1 ER – 8K, 2BB, but once again it was not to be
To show how good he was, five out of the first six innings for Nola ended in K’s, three looking, seven overall thru six. Three of those Ks were on Bryce Harper. As the tweet below by my favorite Phillies beat, live tweeter shows, this is a trend for these two.
The Phils offense took awhile but started to figure out RHP Max Scherzer (16-6, 2.22), as for the second game in a row against him Odubel Herrera homered, barely clearing the wall for #21 on the season, in the 4th.
The next inning the speed of Scott Kingery beat out an IF single. Following their get ’em on, HR ’em in formula, Jorge Alfaro:
his 9th dinger on the year to make it 3-0 Phillies. Coming into the game he was 1/9 off Scherzer, striking out seven times.
Nola did get his second SDI of the night, but then the game took what lately has been the inevitable bad turn.
In that 7th inning more Little League D gave DC two runs, when they should have held them, to one.
Anthony Rendon began his late inning Phillie killing with a single, and an out later a 2B by Ryan Zimmerman (14) made it first and third.
Cue the calliope, as on a GO to Carlos Santana, he proceeded to throw the ball away trying to get the out at home. Not only that, but it got away from Alfaro, and when he recovered possibly in time, nobody was covering home, so two runs would score.
Fortunately that was all and Nola left with still a one run lead after seven innings, 4H, 2R – 1 earned – 8K, 2BB, 0HR, 106P – 72 for strikes.
Nola’s 4H or fewer in his 16 starts tied HOF Grover Cleveland Alexander who did it last in 1893. That was the same year the current distance of 60′ 6″ from HP to the mound was set.
Tommy Hunter would pitch a perfect 8th, but gave up a BB to start the 9th. Pat Neshek would come on, and on a 1-2 count, gave up the lead with a 2R HR to Rendon (17). It was Neshek’s 1st HR given up at CBP as a Phillie. He had gone in 29.1 IP here without a long ball against him, for the club.
One out later Zimmerman would get his 3rd 2B of the night. He would score on yet another Phillies error, while stealing 3rd. That run would come back to haunt them in the bottom of the inning.
One out 2Bs by Williams (11) and Wilson Ramos (20) would get the Phils within one, but then came the latest spilkes causing play by the Phaillies.
Vince Velasquez would come on to PR for Ramos, but when he attempted to tag up on a fly ball to CF by Alfaro he was ruled to have left early, killing the rally, the inning and the ballgame. Or as my colleague at PatAve put it:
It was the ninth game they blew a lead after seven innings, tops – or is that bottoms – in the NL. Only twice have they won a game trailing after seven.
Koda Glover (1-2, 5.68) would get the W for one inning of work, and another Nats P would get his first S of the season, this time it was Greg Holland. Neshek got that double whammy of a L and a S, both his first of 2018.
Game Three:Obligatory Solo W
From the start this looked like the Phillies would be swept in the series as Jake Arrieta (9-9, 3.54) looked terrible om the mound
Through the 3rd inning, Arrieta had only one swinging strike on 75 pitches 44 for strikes. During that time he would give up 4R on two 2R HR. This all came an inning after he drove in two runs with a two out 2 RBI single. His final line – 3IP, 4H, 4R – all earned – 3K, 3BB, 2HR.
He could not (and would not) blame any of this on bad defense or poor shifts as he had done early in the season.
After – guess who – yes that Rendon kid hit another HR (18) to make it 5-2 in the 5th, the Phillies decided to turn the tables on the Natinals.
Asdrubal Cabrera and Quinn would single to start the inning, but it then seemed like yet another inning would go astray after two K’s by LHP Gio Gonzalez (7-11, 4.57). Ramos would work a BB to keep the inning alive, and then CBP came alive as:
Santana lived up to his twitter handle, giving the Phillies their first lead of the night at 6-5.
Alas the Phillies right now would not know an SDI if it came up and bit them, as Victor Arano give up a lead-off single, WP, and then a one out single to tie the game up again.
But the resilient Phillies we saw, it seems so long ago now, would not let this game get away.
Jose Bautista, whom the Phillies picked up the day before from the New York Mets for cash or a PTBNL, got his first RBI as a Phillie with a two out single, to make it 7-6 Phils. It was his fourth time on base in the game, including 2BBs and a HBP.
The Phillies would tack on another run in the 8th when Hoskins 30th 2B of the season knocked in Quinn who got a two out 3B (3).
Tonight the Phightin’s would hold on as Hunter earned a 2 inning S (3) and Seranthony Dominguez (2-5, 3.09) picked up the W.
Jimmy Cordero (1-1, 3.52) got stuck with the L.
Though we have not seen many lately, it was the team’s 35th comeback win. Also on a full team effort, they showed that never give up attitude we saw so much when they were winning more than losing, as all eight runs came with two outs.
The Phillies need to do more of what won the game on Wednesday night, namely not only wear down the starter to beat him, but find a way to score off the opponents Pen. The two they scored in that game matched what they did the first two, and were the difference in the game. It was the same in the Toronto series.
As we all know call-ups are coming starting Saturday and it will be even more of a challenge to see how Kapler keeps everybody involved and sharp. All these new additions to the club, on top of the trade acquisitions, could either keep everyone fresh, or mess up the chemistry.
The Lehigh Valley Iron Pigs are in the playoffs, so it may be a bit before we see the best of them.
One interesting thing to watch will be how they use Jerad Eickhoff as he comes off the DL for the first time this season. He could get a spot start or more likely be the long guy out of the pen.
Hector Neris has been terrific since being recalled – 9G, 8In, 3H, 0R, 1BB, and has Kd 18/28 batters faced. No saves, but he has been used in pressure situations.
Just to add to the Carlos Santana debate, he is the first Phillies switch hitter with 20HR and 90BB in a season, and the first to do it since 2009, Jayson Werth.
Those who follow me on twitter may have noticed that I have put a ? next to my #KaplerIsAGenius title. It is always a fine line between who to blame for continued mistakes and sub MLB level play, and lately – in the social media world at least – that has been trending towards Gabe. These next few weeks will go a long way in determining if he is right for this job, or another in a line of managers who may not have what it takes to skipper this or any other MLB club. We will soon see if his unwavering optimistic front to the public and his players works in today’s baseball. Personally, I hope it is so, as there is enough bullying and negativity in today’s “real” and “sports” worlds, and it is time for some civility and praise for the things that are good and fair.
Time for the Phillies to show they can beat the good teams once again as the Chicago Cubs (79-54, 1st Place NL Central) come to town.
Chicago Cubs @ Philadelphia Phillies
Friday, August 31, 7:05 PM ET , Citizens Bank Park
Jose Quintana, LHP
Saturday, September 1, 7:05 PM ET , Citizens Bank Park
Sunday, September 2, 1:35 PM ET , Citizens Bank Park
Jon Lester, LHP