By Matt Szczypiorski, Sports Talk Philly Contributing Writer
Last night was embarrassing.
There is no other way to put it. The fans are embarrassed. The team is embarrassed. United States Representative Brendan Boyle is embarrassed.
Through 12 games, the Phils have had some rough losses. Last night’s loss however, stings the most. They could have won the game, they should have won the game. The offense did it’s job. To no one’s surprise, the bullpen did not. The defense in the final two innings more resembled the Bad News Bears than a professional baseball team.
Jean Segura had no right to call off Rhys Hoskins for the pop up that ultimately cost the Phillies the game in the ninth, given that they scored in the bottom half of that inning. Roman Quinn dove for a ball that landed a good five feet in front of him, leading to an inside-the-park homer that scored two runs. These are mistakes that 11-year-old AAU teams don’t even make.
Speaking of 11-year-old AAU teams, Matt Klentak might want to reach out to a few teams in the area to check the availability of some of their pitchers. Maybe they could swing a deal for about seven of them. For those of you who think that may be too harsh, just know that the Phillies bullpen literally cannot get any worse.
Not one Phillies relief pitcher has an ERA under eight. The bullpen’s ERA as a whole is over ten. Not only is that by far the worst in the league, it is statistically the worst bullpen ever. For reference, Major League Baseball began in 1869, four years after the Civil War ended.
Phillies Lineup vs. Wade LeBlanc (1-0, 6.91 ERA)
1. Andrew McCutchen LF
2. Rhys Hoskins 1B
3. Bryce Harper RF
4. J.T. Realmuto DH
5. Jean Segura 3B
6. Didi Gregorius SS
7. Phil Gosselin 2B
8. Andrew Knapp C
9. Roman Quinn CF
Orioles left-hander Wade LeBlanc will get the start tonight for the Orioles. The 36-year-old has a career 4.50 ERA, so he can be scored on. The Phillies offense has also seemed to hit better against left-handed pitching this season, so expect a good offensive effort again tonight from the Phils offense.
The Phillies bats were pretty dormant through the first seven innings of last night’s game. Then, in the bottom of the eighth, Bryce Harper homered to tie the game and Jean Segura gave the Phils the lead with a titanic shot.
In the bottom of the ninth, once again down two, Didi Gregorius tied the game on a bloop two run single with the bases loaded. Try as the might to tie the game in the tenth, yet another two run deficit was too much to overcome. It was just the second time in Phillies history that the Phils lost despite scoring runs in the eighth, ninth, and tenth innings, according to Doug Kern on Twitter.
Needless to say, the Phillies offense has hardly been the problem of late. They scored 13 runs on Monday night and nine runs last night, more than enough to secure victories in both games. They lost last night’s contest, and nearly imploded with a 12-run ninth inning cushion on Monday.
Bryce Harper has been hotter than fish grease to start the season, as he’s hitting a smooth .324 with a .479 on base percentage, four home runs (one in each of the last two games), and ten RBI’s. J.T. Realmuto was 0-3 last night, but he has had a fantastic start to the season as well. Didi Gregorius has been clutch and consistent, and the DH platoon of Jay Bruce and Phil Gosselin has proved to be advantageous. Who knew Bruce would be wearing his PF Flyers this season?
Now let’s get to the other guys. Last week, I said that McCutchen, Hoskins, Segura, and Kingery needed to get going for this offense to be successful.
Segura has started to turn it around with home runs in each of the last two games. Therefore, it’s an easy choice to keep him in the lineup. Just remind him that pop-ups on the first base side of the infield are balls he should not be catching, and he’ll be okay.
It’s time to move McCutchen and Hoskins down in the lineup. They both had hits last night, but in watching their at-bats it is clear that neither one of them are seeing the baseball well. The only reason I say keep them in the lineup instead of an outright benching is because both these guys still find ways to get on base via the walk. They're skating on thin ice.
As much as I want to root for the young man, it was time to take Scott Kingery out of the lineup. He looks so uncomfortable at the plate and has just four hits in 40 at-bats. It was about time to put Phil Gosselin in the everyday lineup until he stops swinging a hot bat. Gosselin is a seamless fit at second base, as he has 98 career games at the position and will get the start there tonight. He is my choice to bat leadoff or in the two hole in place of McCutchen or Hoskins. He’s earned it.
Whether Gosselin starting over Kingery tonight is just a one night thing remains to be seen. Regardless of what the future holds, props to Joe Girardi for making this decision today. If Goose hits tonight the way he has all season, I don’t see a way Girardi can justify putting Kingery back in the lineup.
Orioles Lineup vs. Zach Eflin (0-0, 0.00 ERA)
1. Hanser Alberto 2B
2. Anthony Santander RF
3. Jose Iglesias SS
4. Rio Ruiz 3B
5. Renato Nunez DH
6. Dwight Smith LF
7. Austin Hays CF
8. Chris Davis 1B
9. Chance Sisco C
The Orioles had their second best offensive output of the season last night. They managed to muster up three runs against Zack Wheeler, all coming in the sixth inning. They went on to score seven runs in the final 4.1 innings against the Phillies bullpen. Four of those runs were scored due to atrocious fielding by the Phillies, but I’ve ranted about that enough.
Zach Eflin gets the start tonight for the Phils. In his last, and only, start of the season he pitched four innings and gave up only four hits to go along with five punch-outs. He surrendered two unearned runs. Last week, I said that what the Phillies really need from Eflin is consistency. They don’t need him to be an ace, they need him to be a guy who won’t implode and can get through five or six innings while limiting damage. His first start was a good place to begin.
The better Eflin pitches, the longer he stays in the game. The longer he stays in the game, the less jokers Joe Girardi will be forced to summon from behind the center field wall and on to the mound.
If the Phillies bullpen is called into action before the seventh inning, expect some offensive fireworks for Baltimore.
The Orioles lineup has been extremely under-appreciated through their first 15 games. The top five guys in their lineup are all hitting over .260 (must be nice) and as a team they sport the fourth highest batting average in the league. This is the main reason they are over .500 a quarter of a way through their schedule. The Orioles would find themselves in the expanded postseason if the season ended today.
Second baseman Hanser Alberto has the third highest average in the American League and is tied for second in hits with 24. He is the guy that gets their offense going and I think he is the main guy to watch in this game for the O’s. He collected two hits in six at-bats last night to go along with an RBI.
Another guy to look out for is designated hitter Renato Nunez. He is hitting over .300 and has a team-leading five home runs on the season. He is Baltimore's best power threat by far, and playing in a hitter friendly ballpark like Citizens Bank Park is perfect for him. Nunez went 3-4 last night with two RBI's.
Let me start off by saying that both the Sixers and Flyers also play tonight. It may be in this city’s best interest to watch either of them instead, as I think we all need some space from the Phillies after last night.
That being said, I think the Phils will bounce back tonight. The offense roughs up Wade LeBlanc for five runs in the first five innings, and Eflin puts up six solid frames, allowing three runs. The Phillies turn to their bullpen in the seventh, which ultimately fails them yet again, as they surrender the lead. Not to be discouraged, I think the offense saves the day and continues to hit well against Baltimore’s bullpen.
The Phillies retake the lead in the eighth and Neris holds on in the ninth this time. The Phillies win 7-6, proving once and for all they are the most unpredictable team in Major League Baseball.
Time: 7:05 p.m.
TV: COZI TV (Channel 248 on Comcast, 460 on FIOS, and no, I have never heard of this channel in my lifetime either.)
Radio: 94.1 FM WIP & WTTM1680