Well That Just Sox

The Phils had a banner opportunity after taking 2 of 3 from the Giants (one of the hotter teams in baseball). With the lowly White Sox coming into town and a full house most of the weekend thanks to various alumni celebrations, your boys in red pinstripes went out and stunk up the joint pretty much all weekend. Without a full post-mortem, let’s see what happened.

Friday night, they managed to score just 3 runs in 15 innings against the aforementioned bottom-dwelling Sox. This was all compounded with Gabe Kapler doing Gabe Kapler things. After 12 innings of ineptitude by the offense, the Phils finally got something going in the 14th, the Phils got 2 on with 2 outs and Gabe decided one pitcher (Zach Eflin) wasn’t a good enough runner so he replaced him with another (Vince Velasquez) seemingly oblivious to the fact that HE HAD NO MORE DAMN PITCHERS! So, as is customary, when the offense blew their chance in the 13th, on came Roman Quinn to pitch the 14th. Oh wait, no bench players left either? OK, let’s put Vinnie Velo in left. Now, I will allow for the fact that Velasquez purported himself well in left throwing out 1 runner at the plate in the 14th, nearly got another in the 15th and closed out the 15th with a diving catch. That said, it shouldn’t have come to that. In his 2nd inning of work, Quinn wasn’t as lucky as his first and the eventual winning run came around to score on the near miss at home and the Phils dropped the opener, 4-3.

While honoring a guy who had a career .300 average (Bobby Abreu) on Saturday night, the entire Phils offense managed to put together 4 hits. Lucky for them, 2 of them left the yard as Bryce Harper and Rhys Hoskins hit matching 406 foot homers to right and center, respectively in the 4th. Cesar Hernandez managed an insurance run in the 7th on a fielders choice. Otherwise, it was another pitiful display that only ended in a 3-2 Phils win thanks the pitching of Aaron Nola (7 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 10 K’s) and Nick Pivetta (2 innings of 2 hit, 1 run ball for the save). Did I mention Sean Rodriguez and his .235 average was your 5-hole hitter???

While the Phils honored one of the best teams in club history (2009 NL Champs) the 2019 version proved just how dissimilar they are from that team. Drew Smyly looked good in his first few outings against unfamiliar NL hitters. In his first Phils outing against a more familiar AL team, he pitched well again for 4 of his 5 innings. That 5-run 2nd inning kinda hurt things though. Mike Morin had allowed just 2 hits in his first 4 outings as a Phillie, outing # 5, not so much as he allowed 6 hits and 4 runs in the 7th and 8th innings after the Phils had climbed back within 2 runs. Blake Parker allowed one more run in the 9th to finish off the new pitcher trifecta and the Phils lost game 3 of the series 10-5.

Offense- What offense? 26 runs in 6 games sounds ok, right? Take out the 10 runs against San Fran in game 3 and you’re down to 16 runs in 5 games…not as good. I lost count of the # of times they left the bases loaded. After spending a week showing that they aren’t going to win many games unless they hit the ball out of the park repeatedly, on Sunday, they demoted Maikel Franco (.231, 15 HR-including a few really big ones, 47 RBI), a microcosm of this “rebuild”, in favor of Sean Rodriguez (.232, 3 HR, 10 RBI) and his “positional versatility” and will now play Scott Kingery full time at third. I think he has pictures of Kapler and Klentak in his ponytail. Did I mention that ROman Quinn had more HR’s this week than everyone on the team except Rhys Hoskins (the tied)?

This is really, really sad!

Pitching

The non-Nola contingent of the rotation is a mess. The bullpen is filled with guys who were starting a month ago and a bunch of trash heap pickups. They can not and should not be expected to keep the Phils in tight games night in and night out. “When” more likely than “if” the pen completely blows up, this team is doomed if the offense hasn’t turned around.

Around the N.L. East

Braves– Luckily for the Phillies and Nats, the Braves kinda crapped the bed too. After taking 2 of 3 from the Nats in D.C. to give themselves a little more cushion, the Braves welcomed the Reds into the ATL and let them leave with a 4 game split. After not taking advantage of the Red, the week starts off tough for the Braves with the Twins coming to town for 3. Then come the Marlins or a four game set and that should help ease any potential pains that may arise from the Minny series.

Nationals– After winning the opener against Atlanta, the Nats dropped the next 2 games and a chance to gain ground. Then, a trip out west to Arizona ended in much the same fashion. The Nats took the opener before giving up 25 runs in the next 2 games. With 3 games against the Giants in San Fran followed by a trip to Queens to take on the suddenly surging Mets, this could be a critical week for the Nats and the N.L. East as a whole.

Mets– After sweeping the Pirates and those juggernaut White Sox, the Mets finished off a 9-1 run winning 2 of 3 against the Pirates. With 4 against Miami and 3 against the Nats- all at home- the Mets have a chance to alter the look of the East if they can keep up their current pace.

Marlins– The Fish managed to actually win of game in their 3 game set with the Twins before dropping both games of their 2 game set with the Rays. They are still not good. With 4 games in New York starting with a double-header on Monday, then 4 against Atlanta, the Marlins could have an impact on the East race just by showing up as punching bags.

And now the Phils head off to the West Coast. They’ll start with 3 games in Arizona against the D-backs (56-56) before a 4 game series in San Fran where the Giants (56-56) will be looking for some revenge.

A seemingly rejuvenated (though still unable to get through 5 innings) Vince Velasquez (3-6, 4.40 ERA) starts things off against Merrill Kelly (7-11, 4.52) on Monday night. Then it’s Jake Arrieta (8-8, 4.44) against Mike Leake (9-8, 4.27) on Tuesday. Wednesday’s finale has Jason Vargas (6-5, 3.93) taking on Zac Gallen (1-3, 2.72). Nola will open the series followed by Smyly, Velasquez and Arrieta (if his arm hasn’t fallen off yet).

This team has underwhelmed and under-performed since June and it’s unlikely they’ll suddenly fix all that ails them. If they do, it certainly makes my job easier and much more fun. If they don’t…hey, I’ve gotten used to this over the last few years. The only difference is there were no expectations in those years. This one hurts a little more. They’ve got the ability. Maybe, just maybe this is finally the week when they turn it around. I’m not counting on it based on their sub-.500 road record though. No matter what happens…Go Phils!

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