KANSAS CITY — Jake Arrieta wore this loss like a tattoo.
"I made three mistakes and they hit them over the fence," he said after the Phillies' 5-1 loss to the Kansas City Royals on Friday night (see observations). "I need to be better."
While it's true that Arrieta's inability to keep the ball in the yard hurt the Phillies, the team's inability to get anything going offensively against Kansas City's pitching was just as big a factor in the defeat.
Phillies hitters mustered just four hits on the night. They struck out 12 times. And they were 0 for 8 with runners in scoring position.
That'll lose you some ballgames.
The loss left the Phillies at 21-16. They still lead the NL East.
The Phils have two more games remaining in Kansas City. On Monday night, they had just five hits in suffering a 6-0 loss at St. Louis. The Phils bounced back with 16 runs the next two nights to win that series.
Kapler hopes for a similar script against the Royals.
Kansas City entered the game with the worst record in the American League, but the Royals have a few guys who can swing it. Alex Gordon is one of them. He smoked a 3-1 cutter from Arrieta for a two-run homer in the first inning to give the Royals a 2-0 lead. Gordon got Arrieta again, this time on a high sinker, in the fifth. Jorge Soler made it a 4-1 game with a leadoff homer against Arrieta in the sixth.
Arrieta had given up just five homers in his previous seven starts.
"Just too many mistakes up in the zone," said Arrieta, who is at his best when he's throwing his sinker and cutter down in the zone. "I have to force them to put the ball on the ground and I didn't do that.
"Gordon is a pro. He made me pay for my mistakes."
There are nights when a pitcher can survive giving up three homers. This was not one of them. The Phils' offense gave Arrieta little margin for error and little help. Veteran Homer Bailey held the Phils to four hits and a run over five-plus innings and reliever Scott Barlow might have been the star of the game with two scoreless innings and six strikeouts.
Barlow came into a two-run game after the Phils had opened the sixth with a pair of hits. He quickly struck out Rhys Hoskins. He walked J.T. Realmuto to load the bases with one out before striking out Odubel Herrera and Cesar Hernandez to end the threat. Herrera got himself out in a poor at-bat.
The Phillies' inability to capitalize in the sixth was the turning point in the game.
"Barlow threw the ball really well," Kapler said. "His stuff was pretty nasty. We had an opportunity to score there in the sixth inning in a bases loaded situation. Obviously, you want to put the ball in play there and we weren't able to do that and that hurt us. I think that's the best way to describe it.
"We had an opportunity to do damage, that's for sure. Obviously, you want to drive the ball there. But sometimes you do everything in your power and the other guy just beats you. And that's what happened. Barlow pitched a good inning there."
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