There were some really entertaining moments for Phillies fans in Thursday night’s game.
J.T. Realmuto battled through a 16-pitch at-bat in the first inning and fouled off 10 straight pitches. The crowd loved it and gave Realmuto a loud ovation even after he struck out.
And then, in a tie game in the top of the ninth inning, Nick Williams made one of the strongest and prettiest throws you’ll ever see to cut down a run from left field and give the Phillies life heading into the bottom of the ninth. Williams' throw registered at 95.5 mph, according to Statcast. To put that in perspective, neither starting pitcher threw a pitch that hard in a combined 12 2/3 innings.
But Realmuto’s grueling at-bat and Williams’ eye-popping hose work were merely footnotes to what turned out to be another bad night at the yard for the Phillies. Their 3-1 loss to the Miami Marlins in 10 innings at Citizens Bank Park was their sixth defeat in the last eight games (see observations). After coming out of the gate with an 11-6 record and getting everybody pumped up, the Phils are now 13-12.
Manager Gabe Kapler wore this defeat for his decision to use reliever Hector Neris for a second inning of work. Neris, with significant help from Williams, got out of the ninth without giving up a run. He went back for the 10th and twice was one strike away from getting out of that inning. But he gave up a two-out double to Neil Walker on a 2-2 pitch then a two-run homer to Starlin Castro on a 2-2 pitch. Walker hit a splitter, Castro a fastball.
“I didn’t put Hector in the position to succeed right there,” Kapler said. “He’s been so good all year. I really wanted to lean on him. That’s on me. I trusted him and really wanted him to get through that second inning for us and felt really confident in him. But I knew what was best for Hector was to get him out after that first inning of work. That one is on me.
“I thought he was strong. He did a really good job getting through that first inning for us. At the same time, that was asking a lot from him and putting a lot of responsibility on him. I think I could’ve went to (Edubray) Ramos there and Ramos would’ve done a very nice job for us.”
As much as Kapler tried to take the blame, he was far from the engineer of this loss.
This one was on the offense. Aaron Nola pitched well in a duel against lefty Caleb Smith. Adam Morgan got another huge out. Seranthony Dominguez pitched around trouble and delivered a scoreless inning. So much lined up for the Phillies — if they only could have gotten a big hit.
This game was theirs to be had in the sixth inning. Andrew McCutchen led off with a double and moved to third on a fly ball by Realmuto. Bryce Harper and Rhys Hoskins then both popped up against the stingy Smith to end the threat.
An inning later, Cesar Hernandez doubled with one out and died on second when Sean Rodriguez and Williams struck out.
That's 0 for 5 with runners in scoring position in the sixth and seventh innings.
Like Kapler, Harper raised his hand and took blame for the loss.
“It’s on me,” he said. “With a guy at third base, less than two outs, I’ve got to get that job done. We wouldn’t be in that predicament in that situation — Hector throws a scoreless one like he’s supposed to and we’re out of there. So I’ve got to be better personally. Guy on third, less than two outs, I’ve got to get the job done.”
Harper is 10 for 51 (.196) over his last 13 games and five of those hits came in one game last week in Denver.
But he wasn’t the only hitter who did not come through Thursday night. The Phils had just four hits. Their Nos. 2 through 5 hitters were 0 for 15 with a walk.
“There’s no question our lineup hasn’t been clicking like it can,” Kapler said. “We’ve been pretty beat up by injuries, but that’s no excuse. We can perform better at the plate.”
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