Phillies

Phillies give up 8 home runs as need to add pitching becomes magnified

Phillies give up 8 home runs as need to add pitching becomes magnified

BOX SCORE

If the Phillies are going to survive the long, hot summer in the National League East, they’re going to need more consistent starting pitching.

Sure, it was nice to see Nick Pivetta toss that complete game on Saturday and Aaron Nola bounce back from a poor start last week in San Diego with a strong outing on Sunday.

But Jerad Eickhoff got rocked in a 13-8 loss to the Arizona Diamondbacks on Monday night and Jake Arrieta gets the ball on Tuesday night.

Over his last two starts, Arrieta has been tagged for 17 hits and 10 runs in just 9⅔ innings. He has walked six and given up five homers. These are not exactly comforting numbers when you consider that Arrieta must go up against the same lineup that pounded eight home runs against the Phillies on Monday night.

“We have to pitch a better baseball game than we did today,” manager Gabe Kapler said after his team’s seventh loss in the last 11 games, a defeat that dropped the Phils into a first-place tie with Atlanta after leading the division by themselves since April 26.

The Diamondbacks opened the game with three straight homers against Eickhoff. Boom. Boom. Boom.

“Obviously not the way you want to start the game,” Kapler said. “We were able to kind of storm back and even the score, but you'd certainly like to start the game on a better note than that."

The Phils did tie the game at 3-3, but Eickhoff gave up a pair of home runs in the fourth (both were preceded by walks) and Arizona never looked back. The Diamondbacks’ eight homers, along with five hit by the Phillies, made for a major-league record 13 home runs in a single game. The previous record was 12. That was set by the White Sox and Tigers in games in 1995 and 2002.

Now, the air was a toasty 76 degrees at first pitch and the ball generally carries better in warm weather at Citizens Bank Park. Baseballs these days are rock hard and travel like Titleists. Home runs are up throughout the game. But long balls are also fueled by mistakes over the plate and Eickhoff made some. He pitched into the fourth and gave up just five hits. All were homers.

Eickhoff has given up 16 home runs and 27 runs over his last six starts and his ERA has swelled over 5.00.

Is his place in the rotation in jeopardy?

Kapler was noncommittal when asked if Eickhoff would make his next start.

"I think these are things we need to talk about after the game and we’re probably not there yet,” Kapler said.

Eickhoff was confident he’d get another shot.

“Yeah, I expect to make the next start and I’m going to show up tomorrow and work,” he said. “That’s what I’ve always done and nothing really changes. I’ve just got to execute a little better and move on.

“This was just kind of one of those nights where every mistake I made, they were able to put a pretty good swing on it. The most frustrating thing is just not keeping us in the game. Letting every single one of these guys in the clubhouse down. That’s what’s the most frustrating.”

Even if the Phillies felt they needed to make a change in the rotation, they don’t have much in the pipeline. Cole Irvin is in Triple A. So is Enyel De Los Santos. How much of an upgrade would they provide? It has long been clear that the Phillies would need to improve their starting pitching for a second-half run by making a significant trade. Games like Monday night’s only magnify the need. The Phils just hope Arrieta’s start Tuesday night doesn’t further magnify it.

The eight homers given up by the Phils on Monday night increased their season total to 108, most in the NL. They are on pace to allow 265 homers, which would crush the team record of 221 set in 2017.

"It's definitely a problem,” Kapler said of the long balls. “It's definitely something we have to get out in front of and figure out how to solve. That's a lot of work on the part of the staff. That's our responsibility to get out in front of that."

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Jimmy Rollins, Ryan Howard open up about frustrations with institutional racism

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Jimmy Rollins, Ryan Howard open up about frustrations with institutional racism

Former Phillies stars Jimmy Rollins and Ryan Howard sat down this week for a wide-ranging discussion about race in baseball and in America.

The talk, hosted by The Athletic, comes amid nationwide protests speaking out about institutional racism in the United States and in its police system after last week's killing of George Floyd in Minnesota.

Floyd, a 46-year-old black man, was killed in Minneapolis last Monday night by a police officer in an incident caught on camera. The officer kneeled on his neck for an extended period of time while Floyd was handcuffed.

Rollins and Howard both discussed the frustration, anger, and sadness they felt from watching the widely-shared video of Floyd's death:

ROLLINS: [...] In the beginning, it was more shock. It was like, 'This dude, he really just sat there on his neck.' And then, the next day, you think about it, I remember I was picking up some food, and like Torii, I just started crying. Just angry. What do you do? This man has no remorse. There was not one second it appeared he considered (stopping). It was kind of like, 'I hear you, but I’m not going to do it. I don’t want to. I don’t have to do it. I’m protected by the badge. If he dies, he dies.' That was his attitude.

And that’s the part that really, really gets to you. How many other people, whether behind the badge or just in life, literally have the same feeling, think the same way? That if this person dies because I’m white and he’s black, and he didn’t listen to what I said, then I’m going to do what I want with him until I get his compliance? And if he dies, he dies.

HOWARD: It’s kind of like what Jimmy said: This dude was just sitting on his neck. But what got me was, he’s telling you he can’t breathe. You haven’t learned from the past in the sense of what happened in Ferguson and other cities? This man is telling you. He’s on the ground. He’s handcuffed. You’ve got four or five different police officers right there. There’s no need for that. My man started crying out for his mother. At what point do you think this dude is a threat, when he’s calling for his mom?

Howard then went on to recount a time he was pulled over by police in Philadelphia late at night, in what he believes was 2007 or 2008, without being provided a clear reason from a police officer.

HOWARD: Everybody knows what the police-car lights look like. I’m like, 'OK, let me act right because this cop is right behind me. I’m going to try and let this dude pass.' We pull up to the same light. He pulls up next to me. I’m going left. He’s going right. The light turns green, boom, my signal is on, I’m doing everything proper. I make my left turn. He sits there at the light. Two seconds later, boom, he makes the left and follows me. Pulls me over and asks for a license, registration, the whole nine yards.

I said, 'Officer, can you tell me what I was doing?' He said, 'Well, I ran your plates and nothing came back.' I was like, 'Isn’t that a good thing? I didn’t speed, didn’t run any lights. I wasn’t doing anything crazy, but you felt the need to pull me over.' Then another police officer pulled up, a black police officer. He went over to the dude and said, 'You know who that is?' He came over and talked to me, the dude wound up leaving.

I said, 'Look, man, if I’m breaking a law, I don’t care who I am, what I do, that don’t matter. If I’m running a light or not signaling and you pull me over, that’s fine. But when he tells me he pulled me over because he ran my tag and nothing came back what am I supposed to do?' The black officer said, 'Yeah, that dude has done that a few times.' He ended up getting reprimanded by his superiors. But when you have people like that working in that capacity, what can you do?

The whole conversation, which also includes former Phillie Doug Glanville and other former MLB players, is extremely important reading, and well worth your time.

It's important to note the differences in Howard's experience and that of former Flyers winger Todd Fedoruk, who noted in 2015 that Philadelphia police officers were known to give hockey players, an overwhelmingly white group of athletes, free passes on dangerous harmful behavior, like driving drunk.

Rollins and Howard are the latest Philadelphia athletes to publicly voice their frustrations with instituional racism and abuse of power by police officers.

In the last week, Carson Wentz, Zach Ertz, Tobias Harris, Ben Simmons, Bryce Harper, Jason Kelce, and dozens of other local athletes have spoken up in support of the black community, and against racism.

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Brett Myers' walk against CC Sabathia was an all-time Philly sports moment

Brett Myers' walk against CC Sabathia was an all-time Philly sports moment

I was sitting in section 110 at Citizens Bank Park when the Phillies won the 2008 World Series. It’s a moment I’ll never forget. “They actually did it,” I remember thinking. It was a truly remarkable feeling.

It was the first championship I ever witnessed a team from Philadelphia pull off.

But if you asked me what the most memorable play that I witnessed in person from that run was, my answer probably wouldn’t be from Game 5 against the Tampa Bay Rays. Or even from any of the three World Series games I attended in South Philly that series.

That’s because Brett Myers drew a walk.

NBC Sports Philadelphia will re-air Game 2 of the 2008 NLDS against the Milwaukee Brewers this evening and I’ll get to watch Shane Victorino take CC Sabathia deep for a legendary grand slam once again.

But it was all made possible by the Phillies' starting pitcher working a remarkable at-bat against the Brewers' ace that had the 46,208 screaming fans at Citizens Bank Park going ballistic.

"Myers looked like a woodchopper as he fouled off pitches to prolong the at-bat and the full house loved it. The crowd and the length of the at-bat clearly weighed on Sabathia because he walked the next batter, Jimmy Rollins, on four pitches to load the bases,” is how Jim Salisbury described it today. My memory is pretty similar, but from the vantage point of the second row in the third level in right field where I was sitting with my dad and friend Matt.

One of the aspects of sports that makes it such a joy is its unpredictability. Myers shouldn’t have stood a chance against Sabathia, and yet with each fouled-off pitch, the roar of the crowd grew, the white rally towels waving higher.

And the chants. How can you forget the chants?!

“CEEEEE! CEEEEE! … CEEEEEE! CEEEEEE!”

Man, that sure was fun. One of the most joyous moments of being a Philly sports fan I've experienced.

“Most f******g insane [stuff],” Matt texted me yesterday when reminiscing.

“SHANE.”

That’s all that needed to be said. No questions asked.

I took out my camera prior to the seventh pitch of the Myers' at-bat and started recording. My favorite part of the video is the laughing at what we were witnessing. So rewatch the TV broadcast of the 2008 NLDS tonight but enjoy the view from the crowd once more below. 

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