And for another episode of The Case of the Disappearing Offense, we bring you to Citizens Bank Park, where the Phillies were shut out for the second time in three games Thursday afternoon.
The Phils lost, 2-0, to the San Diego Padres, who took two of three in the series to drop the local nine to 18-20 overall and 10-11 at home with the rugged Los Angeles Dodgers due in town Friday night.
The Phillies did not score a run in either of their losses against the Padres. Despite entering Thursday's game ranked fourth in the National League in runs per game at 4.73, the Phillies' offense has been extremely inconsistent, up one day, down the next. In 38 games, they have been shut out five times and held to one run five times.
Head-scratching, to say the least.
"Yeah, it is," manager Joe Girardi said. "And I don't think we have guys going as well as they could be. They did on the (recent 5-2) road trip and we saw what happened. But we've had guys who have struggled for a substantial amount of time. Eventually, the numbers will get back to what they are on the back of the baseball card. They eventually get back there. That's why they're averages, so these guys have some good times coming."
One would hope. The Phils are already seven games back in the NL East.
San Diego starter Yu Darvish had something to do with the Phillies' struggles Thursday. He was very good. He came at the Phillies with a deep pitch mix of fastballs, sliders, cutters and assorted off-speed stuff and held them to six hits over seven innings. He walked none and struck out five. Darvish has given up just four runs in 25⅓ career innings at Citizens Bank Park.
Also working against the Phillies was not having Bryce Harper for a fourth straight game. He was still feeling soreness in his right elbow after having a PRP injection on Sunday. The Phillies hope to have Harper on Friday night.
It also didn't help that Jean Segura, hitting .297, did not start because he had a cold. He pinch-hit with a runner on second in the ninth inning and struck out looking to end the game.
The Phillies are 1-3 without Harper.
"You take an MVP out of any lineup and that lineup is going to change," Girardi said.
Harper's absence has been felt more profoundly as some Phillies hitters have struggled. Kyle Schwarber is one of them.
"Obviously, he's a presence in the middle, but this is also a team," Schwarber said. "We all want Bryce in our lineup. He's a staple MVP. But when he's not in the lineup, we need to be able to pick that up and go from there."
The Phillies had eight hits Thursday afternoon, "But we never pieced more than two together in an inning and that's an issue," Girardi said. "We had a couple of chances but weren't able to come through."
The Phillies had Darvish on the ropes after a pair of one-out singles in the sixth inning. Down two runs, the situation begged for a big hit with Schwarber at the plate.
Schwarber fell behind in the count, 0-2, and eventually struck out swinging as Darvish took a step toward getting out of the inning.
"I wish I would have gotten the job done there," Schwarber said. "That's the thing that will sit with you. I've got to get the job done. I've got to put the ball in play. You don't know what can happen from there but you learn from it and go on. Keep grinding."
Schwarber is 2 for his last 18 with eight strikeouts. He has nine homers and 21 RBIs but is hitting just .189 overall and .153 (11 for 72) at home. He is just 22 for 134 (.164) in 36 career games at Citizens Bank Park.
The Phils also put two runners on base in the eighth, but Nick Castellanos, 5 for 34 over his last eight games with one extra-base hit, grounded out to end the threat.
The Phils got a solid start from Kyle Gibson, who pitched into the sixth, did not walk a batter and allowed just two runs. Gibson allowed a pair of singles, one against the shift, to open the game, but pitched out of trouble in that first inning. He allowed two more hits to open the fourth. Both eventually turned into runs, but he limited the damage and, at least, gave the offense a chance that was not taken advantage of.
At 24-14, the Padres are one of the NL's top clubs. Now, the Phillies will see the best club in the NL.
The Phillies took three of four from the Dodgers last week out West. The Dodgers were one out away from being swept when they rallied in the ninth to win Sunday's series finale. They have not lost since, sweeping their next four against the Arizona Diamondbacks, and come to town with a majors-best 25-12 record.