Kapler Gets Ejected, Phillies Fall to Marlins 5-3

By Matt Gregan, Sports Talk Philly Staff

The Philadelphia Phillies' (39-37) losing streak was extended to six games on Saturday when the team lost 5-3 to the Miami Marlins (29-46) on a beautiful afternoon at Citizens Bank Park.

The team is in the midst of a free fall that began at the beginning of June, going 6-13 in their 19 games so far this month.

"We're not playing good baseball, period," manager Gabe Kapler said, via NBC Sports Philadelphia's postgame show, to reporters after the game. "There's not a single part of our game that is where it needs to be. It's unacceptable and we're going to make it better."

The Phillies showed some signs of breaking out of their slump early on Saturday, holding a 3-1 lead heading into the seventh inning. The team's two stars, Bryce Harper and Rhys Hoskins, hit back-to-back home runs in the third to open up the scoring.

"Obviously there was excitement in the ballpark," Hoskins said, via NBC Sports Philadelphia's postgame show, to reporters. "The crowd seemed engaged especially after Bryce's homer and Vinny [Vince Velasquez] was able to go out and have a shutdown inning right after. I think you could feel some momentum, but that's why we play nine innings. It didn't go our way in the end and we will focus on tomorrow." 

Kapler ignited the crowd into a standing ovation in the fourth inning when he got ejected from the game for arguing "balls and strikes" with home plate umpire Chris Guccione. Scott Kingery was hit by a pitch in an 0-2 count, and was ruled that he swung on the pitch, therefore striking him out. However, Kapler believed that Kingery had not swung and should be standing on first base. He came out and argued with Guccione, leading to the ejection, the first of his managerial career.

"We deserve for me to have a say and to defend our player, to defend Scott Kingery," Kapler said after the game. "The home plate umpire didn't think that it was reasonable for me to be arguing what turned out to be balls and strikes. I felt like, swing or no swing essentially."

With the team slumping, Kapler was asked after the game if he showed emotion on the field in an attempt to light a spark in the clubhouse.

"What I believe it is is defending our players, and I thought that Scott [Kingery] got hit by a pitch and did not swing the bat," Kapler said. "I felt like the right thing to do in that situation was to defend Scott and continue to fight for our players."

Harper singled home a run to make it 3-1 in the bottom of the fifth inning. Things were looking good for the Phillies, who were finally looking like they were breaking out of this rough patch. 

Philadelphia's starting pitcher, Vince Velasquez, was in the midst of one of his best games of the season. He was grooving along, giving up one hit, a home run to JT Riddle, in five innings while striking out five. He had used only 57 pitches to make it through those five innings. However, the team was using Velasquez as a spot starter and felt like he was at his breaking point. 

"I think that was about it. I don't think that it would have been fair to Vince, his long-term prospects, to push him past five innings of work," Kapler said. 

Things began to turn downhill for the Phillies soon after they removed Velasquez from the game. Adam Morgan, in his first game back since returning from a stint on the injured list, struggled with his control, walking the leadoff hitter and allowing two straight singles, the second one driving in a run to make it 3-2. He retired the next two batters before the Phillies made the decision to put Edubray Ramos in the game. Wilkin Castillo, the first batter that Ramos faced, drove in two runs on a RBI double to give the Marlins a 4-3 lead (both runs were charged to Morgan). 

The Marlins added on an insurance run through a RBI single by Brian Anderson off of reliever JD Hammer to make it 5-3 in the eighth inning. 

The Phillies' bats, which had gone silent since the back-to-back homers earlier in the game, failed to pick up the bullpen's struggles. They did threaten to get back in the game in the final two frames, but a combination of lack of hustle and a lack of timely hitting doomed them and resulted in the losing streak extending to six games. 

Cesar Hernandez began the eighth with a single on a humpback line drive into left field, seemingly a normal hit. However, as Phillies' fans have seen all too many times this season, a player failed to run out the hit, resulting in a lost opportunity for an offense that has been struggling over the past couple of weeks. Hernandez could have been on second with a double if he was running out of the box, but instead he was standing on first.

"Those things are definitely things that need to be addressed," Kapler said when asked about the team's lack of hustle on the bases. "They have to be addressed swiftly. They have to be addressed with authority. And they will be." 

Kapler also said that he will sit down with Hernandez to discuss the lack of hustle in Saturday afternoon's loss to the Marlins. 

The next batter, Harper, grounded into a double-play that succeeded in killing the team's rally in that inning. 

The Phillies have struggled to hit in timely situations throughout their cold streak, and that was no different on Saturday afternoon. After getting runners on first and third with only one out in the ninth, they were able to follow it up only with a Sean Rodriguez pop out, a Roman Quinn walk and a Hernandez pop up to end the game. 

For a team that had such high expectations surrounding them to begin the season, it is very concerning that they have fallen down a cliff during this three week long (and counting) cold streak in which they have won only six of their last 21 games. 

"I think throughout the course of a season, every team usually goes through this at some point," Hoskins said when asked about the team's recent bad play. "This is obviously lasting a little bit longer than we would hope, but every team goes through this. Thank God it's now and not later, but even with the losing there's always something to learn from this and that's what we try to do. Keep moving forward." 

The Phillies end their series with the Marlins with a Sunday afternoon matinee at Citizens Bank Park. The probable starters are Jordan Yamamoto (2-0, 0.00 ERA) for the Marlins and Enyel De Los Santos (0-0, 6.43 ERA) for the Phillies.