Phillies give one away to Nationals with poor defense and walks

Phillies give one away to Nationals with poor defense and walks

WASHINGTON — After five games, you have to love this new Phillies’ offense. It’s powerful. It’s prolific. It’s capable of grinding through big deficits.

On Wednesday, the Phillies fell behind by four runs early in the game, but by the middle of the eighth inning were up by two runs, thanks mostly to a booming three-run double by Andrew McCutchen in that frame.

The Phils were six outs away from winning their fifth straight game out of the gate and solidifying themselves as the best story in baseball when all of a sudden it turned into 2018 again.

The Phils were the worst defensive team in the majors last year and they were the worst defensive team on the field Wednesday. They made three errors on the day en route to a disappointing 9-8 loss to the Washington Nationals (see observations). 

No one expected the Phils to go 162-0, but they should be 5-0.

They gave this one away.

They were betrayed by their defense when first baseman Rhys Hoskins missed a throw from reliever Seranthony Dominguez that would have ended the bottom of the eighth. Dominguez' throw sailed right past Hoskins and that allowed the tying run to scamper home.

An inning later, reliever David Robertson allowed a single and three straight walks and the Nats danced off the field with the win.

Again, the Phils gave this one away.

It started with Hoskins’ error.

“Human error,” manager Gabe Kapler said.

Hoskins made no excuses.

“Have to catch it,” he said. “I missed it. Can't happen.”

Dominguez, who was shaky and had previously allowed a run in the inning, appeared to get Adam Eaton on a soft tapper in front of the mound. Dominguez retrieved the ball and appeared to have trouble getting a grip before throwing to first. Hoskins, shockingly, failed to get leather on the ball.

Did Dominguez’ hesitation affect Hoskins’ read on the play? Did the ball tail on him? Did he lose the ball in the late-day shadows?

Nope. Nope. Nope.

“He hesitated a little bit but I still had plenty of time to catch the ball,” Hoskins said. “I clanked it.”

Last year, the Phillies made 123 errors, second most in the majors, and ranked last with minus-146 defensive runs saved.

They surely have cleaned up a lot of those issues with the offseason acquisitions of shortstop Jean Segura and catcher J.T. Realmuto, not to mention the move of Hoskins from left field to his natural spot at first base. But, ironically, all three players made errors Wednesday. They were the Phillies’ first three errors of the season.

In addition to the poor defense, the Phillies were plagued by poor control and command on the mound. Aaron Nola lasted just three innings, walked two and made mistakes over plate that resulted in four extra-base hits, including three homers and an early four-run deficit. And Robertson, obviously, had his issues.

“One thing that stands out to me today is that we had three players not have their best games in Aaron, Rhys and David,” Kapler said. “But they’re all three guys that I would push all my chips in right now that are going to help us win a ton of baseball games and be at the central point of those wins. They didn’t have their best days today. I acknowledge that. We move on.”

On the plus side, the offense racked up another big number. The Phils have scored at least eight runs four times in the first five games.

“There’s a lot to be happy about,” Hoskins said of the Phillies’ start. “But it never feels good to leave a city knowing we could have had one more. We’ll be better. We’ll learn from what we did today and be ready for Friday.”

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Andrew McCutchen, Steve Kerr, Gregg Popovich discuss need to transform American policing

Andrew McCutchen, Steve Kerr, Gregg Popovich discuss need to transform American policing

How should police be held accountable in order to actually trigger change? That was one of the topics addressed by Phillies outfielder Andrew McCutchen in a USA Today piece co-authored by Golden State Warriors head coach Steve Kerr, San Antonio Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich, former NFL Pro Bowler and co-founder of the Player Coalition Anquan Boldin, and New Orleans Saints LB Demario Davis.

"The coronavirus has taught the nation how fragile life is. We all feel deeply the impermanence of our world and realize that the people we cling to for security, stability and for love can disappear in a single moment," the piece began.

"But this realization has long been apparent to Black America, as they’ve watched law enforcement unjustly take the lives of black people for decades, ending futures in an instant. The examples could fill the pages of this news site.

"... And in the past few weeks, these examples have come at hyperspeed."

Accountability was a major theme in the op-ed.

"We cannot wait to change hearts and minds — too many people will die while we try," the authors wrote. "We need to transform American policing now. We need changes that will actually alter behavior, prevent officers from harming people with impunity, and allow officials to hold officers and departments accountable when they do.

"First, police chiefs need to have the ability to get bad officers off the street. When officers are caught using racial slurs, engaging in illegal searches and seizures, fabricating evidence or using severe, unlawful force, they should lose their badges, and lose them immediately. But they don't. A USA TODAY investigation last year found a widespread failure to track problem officers whose testimony had helped charge and imprison thousands of people."

The piece calls for Congress to put an end to "qualified immunity," which shields government officials from being sued for discretionary actions within their official capacity unless their actions violate clearly established federal law or constitutional rights.

"Qualified immunity prevents harmed individuals from receiving compensation unless there is another case, already decided, that involved basically identical facts," McCutchen et al wrote. "The likelihood of this type of similarity between acts of wrongdoing is scant at best. Without it, qualified immunity completely shields officers from civil consequences for their illegal acts.

"When we watch people like George Floyd or Eric Garner get choked to death, it is hard to be filled with anything but the utmost despair. But our anger and frustration will not stop police violence. There are meaningful changes that would allow us to police these officers, not just the other way around. We must ensure that victimizing our fellow citizens brings real consequences."

Check out the full piece for more of the conversation.

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Even Jamie Moyer, King of Clinchers, couldn't lead '08 Phillies to sweep of Brewers

Even Jamie Moyer, King of Clinchers, couldn't lead '08 Phillies to sweep of Brewers

The Phillies went into Milwaukee for Game 3 of the 2008 National League Division Series looking to complete a sweep of the Milwaukee Brewers.

The Phils had won the first two games of the best-of-five series at home. Cole Hamels pitched a gem to backbone the Game 1 victory and Shane Victorino led the charge against CC Sabathia in the Game 2 victory.

Looking to clinch the series in Game 3, the Phils had the guy they wanted on the mound.

Jamie Moyer was their King of Clinchers. He had been the winning pitcher in the team's NL East division clinchers in 2007 and 2008.

Anyone for a trifecta?

Not this time.

At age 45, Moyer led the Phillies with 16 wins in 2008. He did it by upsetting hitters' timing with an artful changeup and the ability to locate his pitches with precision.

But in Game 3 of the NLDS that day in Milwaukee — you can watch a complete re-airing of the game Wednesday night on NBC Sports Philadelphia — Moyer lacked command of his pitches and the champagne stayed locked in the back room as the Phillies suffered a 4-1 loss to the Brewers.

"I just couldn't create any consistency,'' Moyer said in front of his locker after that game. "I was erratic early in the game."

Moyer wasn't the only Phillie who struggled that day.

The offense had just one hit in 12 opportunities with a runner in scoring position. A few hits in those situations could have gotten Moyer off the hook and maybe the outcome would have been different. Right-hander Dave Bush, a product of Conestoga High School in Berwyn, got the win for the Brewers. He allowed just one run in 5⅓ innings.

The Brewers had 11 hits on the day and all were singles. They also drew five walks. Three of those walks were issued by Moyer and two of them came in the first inning as the Brewers put up a quick two-spot. Moyer needed 34 pitches to get through that inning and was gone after four. He threw a first-pitch strike to just two of the Brewers' first 11 hitters.

Manager Charlie Manuel did not like home plate umpire Brian Runge's strike zone and let that be known during the game, but Moyer used no excuses.

"Ball one, ball two," Moyer said afterward. "That's not good. And their hitters were patient."

That was the Brewers' game plan with Moyer. Don't chase his tantalizing off-speed pitches off the plate. Make him throw the ball over the plate.

"Sometimes it's easier said than done,'' Milwaukee shortstop J.J. Hardy said after that game. "Every time we face Moyer or guys like him, we try to soften our approach and hit line drives up the middle."

Though Moyer did not deliver the clinching effort he'd hoped to that day in Milwaukee, he was still a major contributor during his four-plus seasons in Philadelphia. He won 56 games for the Phillies. In addition to leading the team in wins in 2008, he tied Hamels for the team lead in starts (33) and finished second behind Hamels (227⅓) with 196⅓ innings pitched.

Moyer was a stalwart down the stretch in 2008. He went 9-1 in is final 15 starts and the Phillies won 12 of those games.

So though it didn't happen for him in Game 3 of the NLDS that season, it still happened for him an awful lot in 2008 and his place on that championship team will always be secure and strong.

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