LOS ANGELES — Fifteen minutes after Friday night’s game against the Los Angeles Dodgers ended, Phillies manager Gabe Kapler wasn’t sure who his starting pitcher for Saturday night’s game would be.
“There’s some conversations yet to be had about that,” Kapler said.
To whoever ends up getting the nod — good luck. The Dodgers are the best team in the National League on the stat sheet and they certainly met the eye test in scoring a 6-3 win over the Phillies in the first game of a three-game series at Dodger Stadium on Friday night (see observations).
Rookie lefty Cole Irvin and power-armed right-hander Vince Velasquez are the candidates to take on the Dodgers in place of injured Zach Eflin on Saturday night (see story).
Both watched as the Dodgers mauled Phillies starter Jake Arrieta for 10 hits, including three homers, and five runs on Friday night. All five runs came on homers.
“I think Jake missed with a couple of sliders and these are really good hitters and he got punished for those mistakes,” Kapler said. “This is a tremendous lineup and a good ballclub. It sucks to lose. At the same time, we understand that in order for us to beat clubs like this, we have to play our best baseball and we didn’t do that tonight.”
The Dodgers have the best record in the NL at 39-19. The Phillies have the second-best record in the NL at 33-24. But the gulf between the two teams looked bigger than that Friday night.
While the Dodgers clubbed 12 hits, including four homers, the Phillies stroked just five hits — four singles and a solo homer by Andrew McCutchen. The Phillies had just three hits through the first eight innings. Dodgers starter Kenta Maeda pitched six innings of two-run ball and gave up just three hits.
One of those hits was an RBI single to Arrieta in the fifth inning. It tied the game at 2-2. The game did not stay tied long. Arrieta gave up a homer to Joc Pederson leading off the bottom of the fifth. He then allowed a single to Max Muncy and a two-run homer to Corey Seager. Earlier in the game, Arrieta gave up a two-run shot to Muncy.
“The off-speed wasn’t very sharp tonight,” Arrieta said. “That’s why I gave up 10 hits, seven singles and the three homers. I just wasn’t very sharp with the slider, changeup or the curveball. They were able to eliminate too many pitches and they did some damage.”
Arrieta has allowed 12 homers this season, nine to lefty hitters. The Dodgers are loaded with left-handed thunder. Their first six hitters were lefty bats. All three homers against Arrieta were hit by lefty hitters.
“Not throwing great pitches when I’m trying to go inside deep,” Arrieta said. “I’m just leaving them over too much of the plate, really. That’s it. I can get lefties out. You can’t miss middle-in with spin to power-hitting left-handed hitters. You just can’t do it. That’s what I did too many times tonight.”
Entering the game, lefty hitters had an OPS of .865 against Arrieta. Righty hitters had an OPS of .598.
This series is being billed as a measuring stick for the Phillies, who have designs on breaking a seven-year playoff drought. But, remember, the calendar is only now turning to June. This Phillies team could undergo changes in the coming weeks. Certainly, the club could stand to beef up its starting pitching if it's going to go where it wants to.
“They’re a great team leading their division,” Arrieta said of the Dodgers. “We lead ours. Yeah, they’re really good. There’s no question about that. I had a chance to navigate through their lineup, pitch around some situations, just didn’t do a very good job. That’s all.”
Good luck to the guy whose job it will be to navigate the Dodgers’ lineup Saturday night.
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