Phillies

Diamondbacks 8, Phillies 4: Bad bullpen, bad in clutch spots, bad loss

Diamondbacks 8, Phillies 4: Bad bullpen, bad in clutch spots, bad loss

BOX SCORE

PHOENIX — Poor relief pitching and missed opportunities at the plate cost the Phillies dearly in a 8-4 loss to the Arizona Diamondbacks on Tuesday night.

The Phillies carried a 3-2 lead into the sixth inning, but relievers Ranger Suarez, Blake Parker and Zach Eflin were tagged for a combined six runs — three on homers — over three innings as the lead got away.

Corey Dickerson led off the game with a solo homer for the Phillies and rookie Adam Haseley had three hits and two RBIs. Otherwise, the offense did not do enough. The Phillies had just one hit in their first 12 chances with a runner in scoring position — they finished 2 for 17 — and they left 12 men on base.

This has been a big problem for the Phils recently. Over the weekend, they lost two of three to the White Sox. They went 5 for 26 with runners in scoring position in the series and left 27 men on base.

The Phils are 59-54. They currently hold the second spot in a tight NL wild-card race. Washington leads the wild-card race.

Arrieta’s night

Jake Arrieta continues to pitch with a bone spur in his elbow. The issue has turned him into a five-inning pitcher. He has averaged just 4 2/3 innings in his last six starts.

Arrieta got through five in this one and left with a 3-2 lead, thanks to some help from Bryce Harper in right field. Arrieta allowed five hits, one of which was a two-run homer. He walked two and struck out five.

Defense saves

Arrieta allowed a game-tying two-run homer to Eduardo Escobar in the fourth. The Phillies got the lead back in the fifth on a double by Rhys Hoskins, which was followed by an Arizona error that led to a run.

Arrieta pitched into trouble in the bottom of the fifth inning as Arizona put runners on second and third with one out and its two best hitters due up. Arrieta was able to get out of trouble thanks to Harper’s long run and diving catch on a pop up to shallow right by Ketel Marte. Arrieta then got the third out when Escobar popped out on the first pitch.

Bullpen blues

With Arrieta unable to pitch deep into games, the Phillies had to go to the bullpen with a one-run lead in the bottom of the sixth. Suarez was the first man up and he had trouble throwing strikes. He allowed a one-out single, then walked two men to load the bases before falling behind Alex Avila and giving up a two-run single to right that put Arizona up by a run. Fourteen of the 25 pitches that Suarez threw were balls. Not good.

Big missed chance

The Phillies squandered several good scoring chances en route to leaving 10 men on base. Most damaging was the top of the sixth when they had the bases loaded, one out and Hoskins and Harper due up. Arizona lefty Andrew Chafin struck out both of them to get out of the jam and the D-backs pulled away against the Phillies’ bullpen after that.

Up next

Jason Vargas makes his second Phillies start in the series finale Wednesday night. He will pitch against Arizona’s Zac Gallen, a South Jersey native who pitched his high school ball at Bishop Eustace. Gallen went 1-3 with a 2.72 ERA for the Miami Marlins this season. He was traded to the Diamondbacks last week and will be making his debut with the club.

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Joe Girardi doesn't see penalty for Astros players as a deterrent

Joe Girardi doesn't see penalty for Astros players as a deterrent

The calls for Astros players to get suspended have gotten louder and louder as players have descended upon Florida and Arizona for spring training this past week. From Cody Bellinger to Mike Trout to Trevor Bauer to Nick Markakis and everywhere in between, players have made clear how angry they are about Houston's cheating scandal. 

It's going to take a long time for Astros players to gain back the respect of their peers.

It's not some easy fix, though. Astros players were granted immunity from discipline in order for their cooperation in MLB's investigation. MLB cannot, after the fact, revoke that immunity and decide to suspend players knowing what it now knows. That would never fly, and it shouldn't. Whether immunity should have been granted in the first place is the big question, but that point has passed.

Joe Girardi was asked on ESPN's Golic and Wingo Show Wednesday whether he thought MLB's punishment was sufficient.

The Phillies' first-year skipper doesn't think the current punishment serves as much of a deterrent.

"There are some people that lost their jobs that really were the people that had to pay for it, but there were a lot more people involved," Girardi said. "The financial gain for the players is substantial if they have big seasons because of this, so if there's no punishment for them, I'm not sure that it stops. I'm really not sure. Because the financial gain, similar to the steroid era, is very similar. If you know it's coming and you have a big year and you're a free agent, there's a lot (of money) to be made there and players want to take care of their families.

"I'm not exactly sure what the right answer is, but I don't know how much of a deterrent it is for players right now. There's not a huge deterrent for the players and I think there has to be to make sure that it stops."

People made fun of commissioner Rob Manfred for saying this but it should be acknowledged that the public ridicule the Astros are feeling right now will actually serve as some sort of deterrent. That doesn't mean MLB made the right call, that their decision-making process has been sound or that Manfred has done himself any favors publicly. But the disrespect factor around the league and around the country is real. Guys like Alex Bregman, Jose Altuve, George Springer, even a Justin Verlander — will they ever again command the respect they did before this? This is a permanent stain.

MLB recognized how difficult an investigation would have been without cooperation from key figures and went the route of immunity. It's a decision that will be questioned for years.

"If you're not in the clubhouse and you don't admit yourself that you did it, how do you take the word from another player that he was doing it? That's the hard part," Girardi said. "Like, if you get caught with something on your body, that to me definitely should be a suspension and a huge fine. But to say that someone was using it, it's his word against his word, that's pretty tough to penalize a player."

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A small step in Phillies camp for pitching prospect Spencer Howard

A small step in Phillies camp for pitching prospect Spencer Howard

CLEARWATER, Fla. — Spencer Howard, the Phillies' top pitching prospect, returned to a bullpen mound Wednesday and threw 27 pitches.

Ordinarily, a bullpen session in spring training is not news, but Howard had temporarily stopped his bullpen work after sustaining a minor knee injury — manager Joe Girardi called it a "tweak" — 10 days earlier.

Howard threw all of his pitches during the bullpen session as a gaggle of fans watched at Carpenter Complex.

"I only saw two pitches," said Girardi, who was busy bouncing around four fields. "But he felt great. That's the important thing."

Girardi said there was no timetable for when Howard would pitch in a Grapefruit League game. The Phillies are on record as saying they will take things slowly with Howard in the early part of the season. The 23-year-old right-hander is on an innings/workload limit this season and the Phillies would like to get a good chunk of those innings in the big leagues.

"Spencer has an innings limit so we have to think about this because we believe at some point he's going to play a role for us," Girardi said earlier in camp. "We can't go wear him out by June so we have to think about that. We're not going to waste a lot of innings in spring training."

It's possible that the Phillies could hold Howard back in extended spring training in the month of April so they can maximize his innings later in the season.

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