It’s back to reality.
One night after receiving a quality start and adequate relief as well as clutch hitting, the Philadelphia Phillies reverted back the punch-less offense and spotty starting pitching that was prevalent through spring training and the season opener during their 6-2 loss on Thursday to the Red Sox.
Starting pitcher David Buchanan was spotless through the first two-plus innings. However, he imploded and allowed six runs – all with two outs – in the third. Three walks in the frame, including one with the bases loaded, and Xander Bogaerts’ three-run triple were the killer blows to the second-year hurler.
It was a weird inning as there were three infield hits, a throwing error by Buchanan and only a few balls even reached the outfield. Even Bogaerts crushing triple, on a 3-2 pitch, was a fluke as it hit the lip of the grass in right, took a quick low hop and scooted past Jeff Francoeur. Had the ball taken a natural bounce, it likely would have only been a single.
Even Red Sox starting pitcher Justin Masterson joined the hit parade with an RBI hit.
“It might have been one of those nights for him,” manager Ryne Sandberg told reporters after the game. “He was just slightly off with his control and not working ahead in the count. (The inning) just unraveled away from him throwing a lot of pitches.”
The good news for the Phillies was the performance from the bullpen. Four relievers combined to pitch six scoreless innings, giving up four hits and striking six. Dustin McGowan tossed two innings in his Phillies debut, Justin De Fratus added two more and Luis Garcia and Jake Diekman finished up with an inning apiece. Diekman rebounded from serving up a grand slam on opening day.
Meanwhile, the bats were as chilly as the air. Cody Asche and Freddy Galvis each had two singles and Chase Utley chipped in with an RBI base hit to account for all of their hits. Galvis scored the other run on a wild pitch.
Masterson allowed three hits and fanned seven in six innings to earn the win. Three relievers closed out the game the Red Sox, who gave up just six runs in the series.
“The guys are trying to settle in and get at bats under their belt,” Sandberg said. “What we need to do is hit together and create some innings with baserunners and do things and come up with key hits.”
They did that on Wednesday. They also got stellar starting pitching on Wednesday.
However, one has to wonder if Monday’s opener and Thursday’s clunker are what is going to be the rule this season and Wednesday was the exception.
The Phillies and their fans better hope for the latter.