Phillies

Phillies woeful again with runners in scoring position during loss to Pirates

Phillies woeful again with runners in scoring position during loss to Pirates

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There are many reasons why the Phillies have the worst record in the major leagues.

Their inability to consistently produce hits with runners in scoring position is a big one — and it has been glaring during the first three games of the current homestand.

The Phils lost, 5-2, to the Pittsburgh Pirates on Wednesday night (see Instant Replay). For the second night in a row, the Phillies had trouble getting base runners home.

They were 0 for 10 with runners in scoring position in Tuesday night's 3-0 loss to the Pirates and 1 for 8 in those situations on Wednesday night.

Not good.

The Phils jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the first inning on the strength of a two-run home run by Maikel Franco, but got nothing the rest of the game.

"We just can't string together enough hits to score some crooked numbers," lamented manager Pete Mackanin.

Just four days before the All-Star break arrives, the Phillies are baseball's only sub-30-win team — and it's not even close. The Phils are 28-55. The San Francisco Giants have the next lowest win total and they won their 34th game on Wednesday night.

The Phils beat Pittsburgh, 4-0, on the back of Aaron Nola in the first game of this series. In the three games, the Phillies are just 1 for 20 with runners in scoring position. For the season, they are hitting just .235 with runners in scoring position. That ranks in the bottom four of major league baseball. The major-league average is .260.

On Wednesday night, the Phils got a one-out triple from Tommy Joseph in the third inning. He died on third. They got a one-out double from Daniel Nava in the seventh. He was gunned down at the plate — with ease — by Pirates rightfielder Gregory Polanco as he tried to tag and score on a fly ball by Franco. With a poor offensive team that struggles to score, Mackanin has instructed third base coach Juan Samuel to take chances. Samuel did. Polanco responded with a perfect throw. Dead duck.

"I'm glad Sammy sent him," Mackanin said. "It was just a perfect throw."

Nava reached base four times on two singles, a double and a walk. Mackanin has an obligation to play the kids, the guys that might be part of the future, but he also has to keep finding at-bats for Nava, for a couple of reasons. One, the team could end up getting something for Nava at the trade deadline if he keeps hitting. The return would probably be modest, but it's worth letting Nava play more to see what he could bring. And, two, Nava has one of this team's best bats at the moment.

"He gives us the best at-bats on the team, quality at-bats," Mackanin said. "I'm going to try to keep him in there as much as I can."

Nava will likely join Aaron Altherr and Odubel Herrera in the outfield on Thursday. It appears that rookie Nick Williams, three times a strikeout victim Wednesday night, will get a day off Thursday.

After giving up the two-run homer (on a hanging curveball) to Franco in the first inning, Pirates starter Gerrit Cole was tough. He did not allow a run the remainder of his six innings and struck out eight.

Cole got all the run support he needed in the fourth inning when rookie Ben Lively was tagged for four runs. Two of them were unearned after he made a throwing error with two outs. The next batter, Cole, then stroked a 1-1 fastball up the middle to score a pair of unearned runs and give Pittsburgh the lead.

"Lively was pretty good tonight until that fourth inning when the wheels kind of came off and he made some bad pitches in the zone," Mackanin said. "He rushed on that [throwing error] then he gave up the hit to the pitcher. I would have let him go back out there but he had too many pitches, 84 pitches in four innings, and I didn't want to send him back out there."

Lively said, "I left too many pitches over the plate in the [fourth] inning."

And the Pirates did something with them.

As for the Phillies ... 1 for 20 with runners in scoring position the last three nights says a lot.

Watch Phillies Alec Bohm's loved ones' amazing reaction to his first career at-bat

Watch Phillies Alec Bohm's loved ones' amazing reaction to his first career at-bat

Phillies star prospect Alec Bohm made his major league debut at third base on Thursday night, a pretty big moment for the future of the organization. 

Things went wrong basically all night for the Phils - of course! - but the 24-year-old managed to smack his first career at-bat down the third base line for a double, quite a way to begin a career.

While his parents and girlfriend couldn't be in attendance at Citizens Bank Park because of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, they were certainly watching. And, thanks to technology, we can watch their reactions to Bohm's first hit.

Here's what an MLB debut hit looks like in 2020:

Man, that's just the best. 

So much to love in a 41-second clip - Bohm's dad keeping his cool and noting the double; his mom's absolute exuberance; his girlfriend commenting on Bohm's smile - but my favorite part is the quote from his mom at the very end.

"Go baby go!"

Fantastic.

After an otherwise brutal night for the Phils, I'm going to just keep watching this video on repeat. At least one thing went right.

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Are the Phillies this bad? Phils 5-9 after being swept by Orioles at home

Are the Phillies this bad? Phils 5-9 after being swept by Orioles at home

For the third straight night, the Phillies blew a multi-run lead against the Orioles in the middle innings. And for what feels like the 30th straight night, the Phillies' putrid bullpen didn't come close to keeping the game close.

It resulted in another loss as the Phillies were swept at home by the O's, losing 11-4 Thursday with seven of those runs coming against the Phils' bullpen.

Jake Arrieta had been cruising and the Phils built a two-run lead on J.T. Realmuto's opposite-field home run in the bottom of the fourth. But the next half-inning, Arrieta lost his command and couldn't pick up the final out with the bases loaded.

The Orioles scored four times in the fifth inning, the biggest hit a bases-clearing double from outfielder Anthony Santander.

Baltimore tacked on seven more runs against the Phillies' bullpen, which has a 10.13 ERA. Phillies relievers have allowed 48 earned runs in 42⅔ innings, which seems almost impossible.

"You have to be able to pitch to win games in this league, and quite frankly we just haven't thrown the ball well," Realmuto said. "We haven't done well late in games, in particular, when we've needed it. To win a division and to get to the playoffs, you need a really good bullpen. That's an area where we haven't done that well so far. We've got the guys to do it, we've just got to get better."

The Phillies are 5-9. They have the second-worst winning percentage in the National League, ahead of only the Pirates.

"It's concerning," Realmuto said. "With this shortened season, we've got to get it going quicker. It's definitely being talked about in the clubhouse. We're trying to pick each other up and stay positive. If you have one good week, you're back in it. Especially in our division, nobody is really running away with it yet."

Bohm's debut

Making his MLB debut, third baseman Alec Bohm's first major-league plate appearance ended with a double down the third-base line. He struck out looking in his second at-bat and flew out to a step in front of the warning track in right field to strand two runners in his third AB. In his final at-bat, he drilled a ball to the warning track in right-center for a flyout.

Bohm was also involved in Baltimore's fifth-inning rally. Pedro Severino rocketed a ball right under his glove at third base. It was the second-hardest hit ball of the night to that point and was a tough play but still probably one a big-league third baseman has to make.

Prior to the game, Phillies GM Matt Klentak described the team's plans to integrate Bohm into the everyday lineup.

Bryce and J.T. do it again

The Phillies are 5-9 but they might be something like 2-12 without their best two players. Realmuto hit a pair of two-run homers Thursday night, giving him 7 HR with 17 RBI on the season. Both home runs came after an extra-base hit from Bryce Harper, who doubled and tripled.

Harper is hitting .356 and leads MLB with a 1.202 OPS. Realmuto is hitting .292 and slugging .729, third to only Mike Trout and Aaron Judge. Realmuto has three more home runs than any other big-league catcher despite the Phillies having played a handful fewer games than most of the league.

There is a very good chance this is the hottest Harper and Realmuto will be in 2020. It would be hard to be hotter. If that's the case, the Phillies wasted all of this production.

Arrieta's night

Arrieta appeared to be on his way to another strong start before that fifth inning. He followed six shutout frames against the Braves with four zeroes Thursday night, extending his scoreless innings streak to 12 before the Orioles broke out.

"There's no reason I shouldn't have been able to throw at least seven innings in that game," Arrieta said. "A couple of runs should have been enough. Giving up four in the fifth kind of took the wind out of our sails. That one's completely my fault. I had multiple opportunities to make a pitch and get out of that inning. Just wasn't able to do it."

Through three starts, Arrieta has a 4.02 ERA with 14 strikeouts and two walks in 15⅔ innings.

More bad bullpening

Debuting Connor Brogdon was welcomed to the Phillies' bullpen by allowing two homers and three runs in 1⅓ innings. The Phillies have nine relievers with an ERA over 8.00 and ended up using position player Neil Walker for the final two outs.

Up next

The Phillies welcome the Mets to town for a three-game series this weekend. Jacob deGrom is scheduled to pitch for the Mets in Game 1. The Phillies will go with Spencer Howard for his second major-league start.

Aaron Nola starts for the Phillies Saturday, while Zack Wheeler faces his old team Sunday.

After the weekend, the Phillies play 10 straight games and 20 of their next 29 on the road.

"We obviously haven't performed up to our standards, that's for sure," Arrieta said. "There's really no time to worry about it. We just have to play better. We already have to catch up quite a bit."

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