Coming off an emotional Walk-Off W the Philadelphia Phillies (48-45, 3rd Place NL East) needed to regain focus as the best team in MLB – record wise at least – Los Angeles Dodgers (62-33, 1st Place NL West) came to Citizens Bank Park.
The Phightin’s would hold their own, splitting the series that had a bit of everything from blow-outs, to a walk off, to a comeback.
Game 1: Blown Out
Zach Eflin (7-9, 4.16 ERA) would face off against Dodgers LHP Clayton Kershaw (8-2, 3.00) in the opener.
Both starters were in control until Scott Kingery led off with the 3rd inning with a solo HR (12) to LCF.
They would wind up loading the bases with two outs, but could not get another run in.
That unfortunately would be the end of the hilites for the Phils.
Not only did Eflin not get the SDI, but he gave up 6R, on only one XBH, the last coming on a double steal, 5 singles, a BB and a sac bunt did the rest of the damage. One of those singles was also a bunt.
Eflin’s line: 6In, 9H, 7R – all earned – 1BB, 5K, 1HR, 102P – 69 for strikes.
Believe it or not, it was all downhill from there as the Phils would only score one more time, while the Dodgers tacked on nine more off the pen, including 3HR. Two were hit off of Edubray Ramos who was put on the 10 day IL on Tuesday.
Though the offense worked Kershaw’s pitch count up, that HR to Kingery was all that he gave up in 6 In, 4H, 1R, 2BB, 7K, 101P – 68 for strikes in the win.
The embarrassing final – 16 – 2.
Game 2: Wild Walk-Off
If there is one thing the Phillies have done well this season, it is the ability to have a short memory and bounce back after a bad loss. They showed this again in game two.
Kingery (13) smacked a solo HR for the second game in a row, off of RHP Walker Buehler (8-1, 3.44), batting 2nd in the first inning.
Vince Velasquez (2-5, 4.87), could not get the SDI though, as 2B Max Mauncy hit his 25th HR of the season.
The Phightin’s answered that in crooked number fashion with a five spot in the bottom of the frame.
He is batting over .400 in those situations, starting to get hot, and hopefully helping to carry this team the rest of the season. We will see more of that later.
V V did get the SDI, striking out the side, but LA got three back on two HRs in the 4th, one a 2R shot because of an error on Miller before the White Hot Cody Bellinger slammed his 34th of the season.
Vince would only go 4.2 IN, 5H, 5R – 4 earned – 1BB, 7K, 4HR, 87P – 54 for strikes, but still a chance for the W at 6-5 thru 5, after giving up the last HR to Joc Pederson (21) .
That was not to be as both pens held the offenses scoreless until the wild roller coaster of a ninth inning.
It was not looking good for the home team as Hector Neris was having one of those bad nights he had been sprinkling in with his mostly great efforts this season. A BB and then a single set up a 3R shot by PH Matt Beaty (3).
Neris would then hit the next batter, seemingly out of frustration, and was promptly tossed by HP Ump Chris Conroy. Manager Gabe Kapler was ejected as well. Neris was rewarded with a three game suspension for this, but is still in the appeal process, and would figure in later in the series.
LHP Ranger Suarez would induce a DP to end the threat at 8-6 Dodgers.
Phurther Phightingness ensued when twitter favorite 2019 whipping boy Andrew Knapp laced a one out PH 2B. Cesar Hernandez and Kingery both followed with singles to bring in Knapp.
Up came Mr. RISP Harper, and the video below sums up the 9th inning belly flop, then euphoria well:
It was ruled a 2B, Harper’s 26th, and gave Suarez the W (1-0, 3.55), and Dodgers closer RHP Kenley Jansen (3-3, 3.72) that favorite of all relievers, the double whammy of BS(4), btw the same amount that Neris has but with 6 more SVO (28), and the L.
Game 3: Dodgers Score late and often
This game was a pitcher’s duel between Nick Pivetta (4–4, 5.74) and RHP Kenta Maeda (7-6, 3.71)
LA got a run in the first on a Sac Fly, but then it was all bagels until the Dodgers singled in another run in the top of the 6th.
Once again though the Phils fought back to tie it up the next inning on a bases loaded BB by Miller and then a Haseley ground out.
That unfortunately would be the last time the Phils crossed the plate while the Dodgers put up two runs in the 7th and 8th, and one more in the 9th for the final 7-2 score.
Both starters were gone before the 3rd inning would end, Pivetta actually getting one out in the 2nd while Maeda did not even start the third, so their stats are hardly relevant here.
The L went to Juan Nicasio (1-3, 5.50) who gave up the eventual game winning runs in the 7th, while RHP Pedro Báez (4-2, 3.45) got the less bothersome double of a BS(4) along with the W for 1.2 innings of shutout 2K ball.
Game 4: Comeback Kids 2019
On a day when Aaron Nola (8–2, 3.77) was not at his best – 5In, 4R – all earned – 3BB, 5K, 3HR, 99P – 59 for strikes, his teammates found a way to outscore the Dodgers, earning a split in this tough series.
The Phils scored first on a sac fly by Harper in the bottom of the 1st, but the inkling that it would not be Nola’s finest hour was the anti SDI in the second on B2B HRs by 1B Beaty (4) starting this game, and SS Enrique (Kike) Hernandez (15).
They would tie it up of off sometimes starter – sometimes BP guy RHP Ross Stripling (4-3, 3.64), on a Milestone Moment for Adam Haseley
A Realmuto sac fly the next inning gave them a short lived 3-2 lead, as yet another HR by Hernandez (16) with a man on gave it right back to LA 4-3. They added what they hoped was an insurance run in the 6th, as the Phillies bats now went cold.
Stripling would also only go 5In, 5H, 3R – 2 earned – 0BB, 5K, 1HR, 90P – 58 for strikes, so this game was once again in the hands of the pens.
Phinally the Phightin’s found the comeback feels just at the right time with a four spot in the 7th.
The inning featured a lot of micro-ball starting with a HBP of Haseley, a BB by PH Roman Quinn. One out later Jean Segura and Harper followed with RBI singles to tie the game. Harper went to second on the second Dodger E of the game, enabling Rhys Hoskins to bring them with the eventual winning runs.
Of course, the 2019 Phillies do not do easy, and this 9th inning was no different.
Neris was back on as Kapler has often given him a chance to redeem himself after a bad outing. He got the first two outs easily, but then gave up the 15th Dodger HR of the series to OF Alex Verdugo (12).
He did get the next man out to earn S 18, but apparently on the way off the field said some bad words in the direction of the Dodgers dugout, and the game ended with the two teams glaring and jawing at each other, but sanity prevailed and the teams left the field.
Suarez (2-0, 3.21) would earn his 2nd W of the series, and RHP Dylan Flores (4-3, 4.11) would get another reliever double of a H(2), and his 4th L.
FTR Adam Morgan got H(18) for the Phils, as would LA RHP Yimi Garcia (1). Dodger RHP Joe Kelly would get a BS(4).
The Dodgers hit 15 HR this series. Not that it will make anybody feel better but LA is doing this to everybody in 2019. They are 2nd in MLB and 1st in NL w/ 167 . The only way to beat this team is to outscore them. Somehow the Phils found a way to barely do just that in the two games they won by one run. LA socked five and four HRs in each of those losses. On the other side, while Phillies pitchers lead the NL w/ 169 gophers given up, there are actually two teams worse in the Al, Seattle Mariners with 170 and Baltimore Orioles lapping the field with 183.
How good has Harper been wit/witout men on board? Statsmeister Bob Vetrone Jr. gave us this breakdown, that also includes Friday.
The Phillies (50-47, 3rd Place) hit the road again starting with the Pitsburgh Pirates (45-50, 4th Place NL Central ). Last season they went 6-1 against them, even going 2-1 in Pitt., a place that had been a house of horrors for them in recent seasons – 1-2 in 2016 and 2017, 0-3 in 2015.
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.