Phillies

Gabe Kapler defends hitting coach John Mallee after Phillies' 14th loss in 20 games

Gabe Kapler defends hitting coach John Mallee after Phillies' 14th loss in 20 games

The Phillies got the crowd they wanted, thanks to Chase Utley, and the pitching performance they wanted, thanks to Aaron Nola.

But they didn’t get the offense they needed to pull out a win Friday night at Citizens Bank Park.

The Phils’ 2-1 loss to the Miami Marlins was their fifth straight defeat, their seventh in the last eight games and 14th in the last 20.

Ouch.

In a span of three weeks, the Phils have gone from 10 games over .500 and 3½ games up in the NL East to three games over .500 and 4½ games back in the NL East. They are still in second place in the division but for how much longer? Third-place Washington is just two games out of second.

All phases of the game have abandoned the Phillies lately, but starting pitching was not one of them Friday night. In front of a sellout crowd that showed up to salute Utley and his retirement, Nola delivered eight innings of 10-strikeout ball and allowed just two runs, one of which was unearned. However, the right-hander received little run support as the Phils’ bats were stymied by Sandy Alcantara and the Marlins’ bullpen.

The Phillies went just 2 for 12 with runners in scoring position and neither of the hits scored a run. They left 11 men on base against a Marlins club that has the worst record in the NL.

Over the last five games, the Phils are 5 for 40 with runners in scoring position.

Over the last 11 games, the Phillies are 2-9. They’re hitting .233 over that span and have scored 40 runs.

This team was supposed to hit, but through 75 games the Phils rank 11th in the NL in batting average (.242), 10th in on-base percentage (.321), 11th in slugging (.414), ninth in OPS (.735) and 12th in homers (89).

“I think our guys can swing the bats better,” manager Gabe Kapler said after Friday night’s loss. “I think we all know that. Going up to the plate with the right approach, the right mindset, we’re just not getting it done right now. We’ve got to do a better job. It’s that simple.”

Kapler was asked if he had confidence in hitting coach John Mallee.

“I think we have the right personnel in place,” he said. “I think we have the right coaches in place. Our processes and our practices need some refinement. There’s no coaching staff in baseball that works harder than our staff does and we are going to work to find solutions.”

Because of the lack of offensive support, Nola had little room for error. Eighty-two of the 107 pitches he threw were strikes. He made just a couple of mistakes — a 2-0 fastball over the heart of the plate that Bryan Holaday hit for a homer in the second inning and a first-pitch curveball that plunked Brian Anderson in the sixth. Anderson went to third on a base hit and scored on an infield tapper that third baseman Scott Kingery could not make a play on.

Could Kingery have gotten Anderson at the plate if he had fielded it cleanly? The official scorer thought so. He charged Kingery with an error and the batter reached base on a fielder’s choice.

“I think there’s a chance,” Kingery said of cutting the run. “That was a thought. On a broken-bat chopper, you’re not getting a double play right there so the main thought in my head was to charge it and go for the out at home.”

Kapler said it would have taken a “heroic effort” by Kingery to make the play.

“I think Kingery is athletic enough to make it,” Kapler said. “I’m not sure he would have been out at the plate. It may have been a situation where he could have recorded an out at first base. But if he does make that play, it’s highlight-reel material. The expected outcome is not a recorded out at the plate in that situation.”

In the end, a tapper to third base was not the reason the Phillies lost. Going 2 for 12 with runners in scoring position and scoring just one run was.

“It’s certainly disappointing for [Nola] to have a start of that caliber and us not be able to support him by putting runs on the board and putting a ‘W’ in his pocket,” Kapler said. “We just have to do better. We have to improve.”

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Another sign that Joe Girardi will be hired to manage somewhere soon

Another sign that Joe Girardi will be hired to manage somewhere soon

In another sign that he's likely to return to managing in the majors in 2020, Joe Girardi stepped down as the manager of USA Baseball, the organization announced Wednesday.

Girardi, who is believed to have met with Phillies officials Monday, is a strong candidate for multiple open manager jobs. The Phillies are interested, and the Cubs and Mets appear to be hot after him as well.

Girardi is the overwhelming fan choice to manage the Phillies. It's hard not to see the appeal of his combination of experience, blend of new school and old school and track record of winning. Phillies fans seem to prefer Girardi to Buck Showalter, whose teams haven't advanced as far in the postseason.

Girardi has played things differently this year than last. He had two interviews for the Reds job last fall but pulled himself out of the process, saying it wasn't the right time.

Now, he wants to manage. And the openings this time around are more appealing — three major market clubs in Philadelphia, New York and Chicago. The Mets do not spend to their market size but the Phillies and Cubs have done so in win-now periods.

It is much more likely that the Phillies would be forced into a bidding war for Girardi than for Showalter because of the number of interested teams.



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Joe Maddon hired by Angels, officially off the board for Phillies manager opening

Joe Maddon hired by Angels, officially off the board for Phillies manager opening

The first of the eight manager jobs open across Major League Baseball to begin this offseason has been filled.

The Los Angeles Angels on Wednesday announced the hiring of Joe Maddon. Maddon's contract is reportedly for three years. A native of West Hazleton, Pennsylvania, Maddon has a long history in the Angels organization. Between 1975 and 2006, Maddon played and managed in the team's minor-league system, served as a coach with the Major League club and assumed the role of interim manager.

Maddon has a 1,251-1,068 record as a manager in the major leagues. He led the Tampa Bay Rays to an American League pennant in 2008 and skippered the Chicago Cubs to a World Series in 2016, their first championship since 1908. Maddon will take over an Angels team that finished 72-90 in 2019, led by two-time MVP Mike Trout.

Though Maddon might have appeared to be an attractive name for the Phillies job, Joe Girardi, Buck Showalter and Dusty Baker are the only candidates known for the position at the moment, according to Jim Salisbury. Baker is meeting with Phillies officials Wednesday, and a hire could come quickly, per Salisbury (see story).

USA Today's Bob Nightengale reports Showalter was the runner-up for the Angles job.



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