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


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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Strange postgame vibe after an inexcusably ugly Phillies loss

Strange postgame vibe after an inexcusably ugly Phillies loss

Where does one begin after a night like this?

With the offense that loaded the bases twice in the first three innings against Clayton Kershaw and stranded all six runners?

With the entire infield, which forgot how many outs there were in a fourth inning that set baseball back 70 years?

With the bullpen full of fringe or inexperienced major-league relievers that turned a six-run game into a 13-run game and stood no chance against the Dodgers' potent lineup?

With the $330 million outfielder who has been outplayed by more than a few visiting superstars at Citizens Bank Park this season?

This 16-2 loss, this was the kind of game that left the manager, the players, the fans and the reporters with more questions than answers.

"It's certainly not encouraging," Gabe Kapler said when asked about the embarrassing performance.

The manager didn't do much expanding. He didn't need to. The fact is the 2019 Dodgers are worlds better than the 2019 Phillies. L.A.'s rotation goes five, six, seven deep. Their lineup can beat you with power, with plate selection, with contact or with small ball like they used in the fourth inning, when they perfectly executed a safety squeeze and a double-steal of second and home.

Facing Kershaw, you're not going into the game with huge expectations. The Phillies were +160 underdogs, one of the biggest underdog lines you will see for a baseball team playing at home. But this was still pathetic. Inexcusable. Baffling. Concerning.

Why is it that opposing offenses can come into this park and make it look small? Why is it that opposing hitters can take such advantage of these juiced baseballs but the Phillies cannot? Cody Bellinger had as many home runs in a three-inning span Monday as Harper has in his last 17 home games.

The Phillies have been outscored 34-8 by the Dodgers, the team every other club in the National League knows it probably must get through to make it to the World Series. What is the Phillies' goal at this point? Is it to chase the wild-card? Is it to make it to a one-game playoff, cross their fingers and call it a job well done?

That wasn't the goal in the spring, when this team had 90-plus win aspirations and looked like it might feature five All-Stars.

This is why the game isn't played on paper, they say.

"I think after yesterday's game everybody's real positive and after a game like tonight you feel like you got kicked in the teeth," said Jay Bruce, who stranded six runners. "You get to start over each day and you get to start a game at 0-0 and have an opportunity to win. We have to play better, for sure. But as poorly as we've played, we're still right there in the wild-card hunt and you never know what's going to happen in the division so we just need to play like we can and play more consistent baseball and see what happens. ... A night like tonight is tough but we get to come back tomorrow and do it again."

There weren't many players in the clubhouse when it opened. Harper was sitting right there waiting, like he always does, no matter the game's outcome. He deserves credit for that, even if some of his answers rang hollow.

Zach Eflin, who has allowed 22 runs in his last 20 innings, actually took some positives from his start.

"I really felt like I probably gave up only two hard-ish hit balls that (fourth) inning," he said. "But at the end of the day, I felt like I got better today. I thought me and J.T. (Realmuto) did a good job of mixing pitches and really getting my curveball and changeup over. So although the box score doesn't really look too good, I feel like I took a lot of positives from today.

"We're all calm. There's no need to panic. We know how good we're going to be and it's just going to take that one time, that one game that everything clicks and then it's going to be a fun rest of the year."

They're fine. Everything is fine. The season isn't deteriorating two weeks before the trade deadline.

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Phillies embarrassed by Dodgers and have 2 of the ugliest innings you'll ever see

Phillies embarrassed by Dodgers and have 2 of the ugliest innings you'll ever see


What a completely humiliating loss for the Phillies.

It wasn't just that they were blown out, 16-2, by the visiting Dodgers. It was the way it unfolded and the way it sounded.

The Dodgers, with so many of their fans chanting and cheering throughout the night, scored six runs in the Phillies' ugliest inning of the season, the top of the fourth Monday. 

They went single, RBI double, groundout, RBI single, walk, RBI single, safety squeeze RBI single, sacrifice, RBI single, double steal of 2nd and home.

The Dodgers' catcher, Austin Barnes, laid down the successful squeeze. Cesar Hernandez was shifted all the way toward the second base bag and had no chance to scamper to first in time to receive the throw from Zach Eflin. A few batters later, it was again the catcher Barnes who stole home.

And that wasn't even the worst look of the inning. When Eflin struck out Alex Verdugo for the third out, the Phillies were so out of it that the entire infield appeared to not know it was the third out. Realmuto trickled the ball back to the pitcher, Eflin and his fielders stood around, and then after a few seconds, all realized in unison the inning was over and walked toward the dugout. 

The boos just rained down.

You can't blame Phillies fans at this point. They've been watching bad baseball for six weeks. An offense that can't consistently pick up the big hit, a rotation that can't get six innings deep nearly enough, a bullpen that can't protect leads.

It all bubbled to the surface Monday in an ugly loss, the kind of loss one would hope leads to a team meeting or a tough conversation or something that shows these coaches and players are taking the mounting losses personally.

And it got even worse

The Dodgers later added four homers, two by Cody Bellinger. Bellinger had as many home runs at CBP Monday as Bryce Harper has in his last 17 home games.

And still, it got worse. In the eighth inning, Yacksel Rios was ejected for hitting Justin Turner after Verdugo's homer, Edgar Garcia couldn't get a third out, the Dodgers scored five more runs and the Phillies were forced to insert Roman Quinn to pitch ... with the bases loaded. Quinn did get the inning-ending flyout before allowing two more runs in the ninth.

The Phillies are 48-46. Tomorrow night is Vince Velasquez against Walker Buehler.

Missed opportunities

The Phillies loaded the bases in the first and third innings against Clayton Kershaw and stranded all six runners. Jay Bruce was the main culprit, flying out to end the first and striking out on three pitches with one out and the sacks full in the third.

The Phillies reached base twice via error against Kershaw in the third inning. When you're facing a Hall of Fame pitcher, you have to cash in when you get the chance. The Phillies couldn't. You almost knew before the Dodgers even crossed the plate that this would be costly.

Segura dinged?

Jean Segura was limping in the field in the top of the ninth and again after his groundout in the bottom of the ninth. Manager Gabe Kapler said after the game that Segura was being examined but had no further update. We'll know more Tuesday.

Up next

The Phillies again miss NL All-Star starter Hyun-Jin Ryu, but that just means they get the rest of the Dodgers' strong rotation.

Tuesday night at 7:05 — Vince Velasquez (2-5, 4.63) vs. Walker Buehler (8-1, 3.46)

Wednesday night at 7:05 — Nick Pivetta (4-4, 5.81) vs. Kenta Maeda (7-6, 3.82)

Thursday afternoon at 12:35 — Aaron Nola (8-2, 3.63) vs. Ross Stripling (4-3, 3.65)

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