By Matt Szczypiorski, Sports Talk Philly Contributing Writer
It’s been eight days since the Phillies horrid Sunday afternoon loss to the Miami Marlins. Tonight, they will take the field for the first time since that day. After Covid-19 began to ravage the Marlins locker room before and after last Sunday’s contest, the Phillies have been unable to compete for precautionary reasons.
The good news is though, that Phillies baseball is back after two false positive Covid-19 tests. The bad news? They have to play the best and hottest team in baseball right now: The New York Yankees. Playing a team like the Yankees in the midst of a hot streak after not playing for eight days is less than ideal.
While this is not the best case scenario for the Phils, it will be good to have them back knowing that all the players avoided the virus and everyone is healthy.
Oh, and Joe Girardi makes his first return to the Bronx as a manager. Girardi was the Yankees skipper for nine years, guiding New York to six playoff appearances, including a World Series title in 2009 against the Phillies.
Phillies Lineup vs. Gerrit Cole (2-0, 3.09 ERA)
1. Andrew McCutchen LF
2. Rhys Hoskins 1B
3. Bryce Harper RF
4. J.T. Realmuto C
5. Didi Gregorius SS
6. Jean Segura 3B
7. Jay Bruce DH
8. Scott Kingery 2B
9. Adam Hasley CF
After not seeing live pitching for eight straight days, the Phillies have been rewarded with facing one of the best pitchers in baseball: Gerrit Cole. The newly signed Yankees ace has been solid so far after a dominant 2019 season with Houston.
Cole gave up just one hit, one run, and struck out five in his rain shortened victory over Washington on opening day. He then gave up three runs and struck out seven over 6.2 innings pitched as he cruised to his second victory of the year against the uninspiring Orioles.
To say the Phils will have their work cut out for them is an understatement. Even before the mini hiatus, the Phillies offense was on the struggle bus offensively. Through three games against the lowly Marlins, the Phillies were just 3-for-21 with runners in scoring position and left 24 runners on base. Folks, that ain’t good.
Look for the Phils to try and frustrate Cole by doing what they do best: take a bunch of pitches. Rhys Hoskins could annoy Cole all by himself, as he drew eight walks in just three games against Miami.
Also anticipate shortstop Didi Gregorius to continue swinging a hot bat. Didi was one of the lone bright spots offensively in the Phils opening series, as he went 4-11 with two home runs to go along with two walks. Plus, Gregorius will be playing against his former team tonight, and he knows the stadium well. Didi was a sucker for the infamous short right field porch when he wore navy blue pinstripes.
Yankees Lineup vs. Jake Arrieta (0-0, -.-- ERA)
1. D.J. LeMahieu 2B
2. Aaron Judge RF
3. Aaron Hicks CF
4. Giancarlo Stanton DH
5. Mike Ford 1B
6. Gio Urshela 3B
7. Gary Sanchez C
8. Brett Gardner LF
9. Tyler Wade SS
The Yankees offense is hotter than fish grease right now. Through eight games, the Yankees are tied for first in home runs and are first in OPS if you don't include the Phillies and Marlins, who have played just three games. New York lit up the Red Sox pitching staff for 19 runs in three games, including a nine-run output last night.
That's not good news for a Phillies pitching staff that has been...uninspiring, over the past eight years or so. In all seriousness, the handsomely paid Jake Arrieta will take the bump tonight for the first time in 2020. Arrieta had a disappointing, yet predictable 2019 season that saw his ERA balloon to 4.64 as he started just 24 games before undergoing season-ending elbow surgery. The 34 year-old will try to rebound from a rough season against the best offense in baseball. Not exactly the best situation for a first start.
Driving the bus for New York’s offensive assault has been Aaron Judge. The way-too-early MVP front runner has homered in each of the Yankees last five games, and hit two last night. The second blast he hit last night was a titanic shot that gave the Yankees the lead in the eighth inning.
Judge is just a microcosm of the Yankees offensive blueprint. Not a lot of guys in this lineup are going to hit for a high average or try to get on base. Their game plan is to try and hit the ball out of the ballpark. It’s working for them so far, as they have seven wins in their first eight games.
Aaron Boone’s lineup tonight looks a little different than it did during the Red Sox series. The struggling Gleyber Torres gets the day off tonight, as Tyler Wade will start instead of him. Mike Ford, the big left handed hitting first baseman, will get some work in tonight against the right-handed Arrieta.
Meanwhile, guys who are struggling such as left fielder Brett Gardner and catcher Gary Sanchez will get the start tonight despite both guys sporting averages below .100. Facing the Phillies horrid pitching staff may be just what the doctor ordered for the few Yankees that are struggling offensively.
The Yankees offense jumps all over Arrieta early, as he makes it through just four innings. They continue their offensive barrage against the Phillies woeful bullpen. Gerrit Cole dominates the Phillies offense, giving up just one run over seven dominant innings while also recording double digit strikeouts.
Aaron Judge homers for the sixth consecutive game. Rhys Hoskins has a typical Rhys Hoskins game and goes 0-for-3 with three strikeouts and two walks. Gregorius records the Phils lone run, a solo homer in the fifth.
At the end of the day, playing for the first time in eight days against the hottest team on their schedule will be just too much for the Phillies to overcome.
Yankees win, 8-1.
Time: 7:05 p.m.
Radio: 94.1 FM WIP, WTTM1680