Phillies

Phillies

BOX SCORE

MIAMI — This was a game that magnified a Phillies’ weakness, a game that begged for some offensive pop, a game that cried out for …

Manny Machado.

As trade speculation surrounding the Baltimore slugger continued to simmer, the Phillies wasted a strong pitching performance by Aaron Nola and the bullpen in a 2-0 loss to the lowly Miami Marlins on Saturday afternoon (see First Take).

The Phillies out-hit the Marlins, 8-4, but had just one extra-base hit. They had 10 base runners on the day. A big hit here or there and it might have been a different outcome.

Despite winning six of the first 10 games on this 11-game roadtrip, the Phillies have been shut out twice in the last four games and held to just 24 runs in the last nine. For the season, they have a .391 slugging percentage, which ranks 23rd in the majors. They rank 17th in homers with 104.

The Phils need more pop.

They know that.

That’s why they are one of the most aggressive participants in the Machado sweepstakes. Machado entered Saturday night with 23 homers and 64 RBIs and a .951 OPS.

Manager Gabe Kapler is not worried about the power.

He says more is coming.

Does he know something we don't?

“I can say that I have a lot of confidence going forward that we'll produce power,” he said. “We have pop. We have strength. Our guys have hit for power in the past. Rhys (Hoskins) definitely has another stretch of power coming. Odubel (Herrera) has another stretch of power coming. Carlos (Santana) has another stretch of power coming. Sometimes, these things ebb and flow. But these guys have produced power in the past. So we expect that there's going to be more power coming.”

 

Maybe more of that power will come from Machado.

Despite the loss, the Phillies remained in first place in the NL East, 1 ½ games ahead of Atlanta, which has lost eight of its last 10 games, and 6 ½ games ahead of Washington. Before Saturday’s game, Phillies club president Andy MacPhail indicated that the division was winnable and said the club was looking to augment its roster (see story). He did not mention Machado by name — there are rules against that — but it’s clear that the Phillies want him.

Stay tuned on that one.

The Phillies will finish up their road trip and head into the All-Star break after Sunday’s game against the Marlins. The Phils still have a chance to win the series, but they will have to do it with rookie Enyel De Los Santos on the mound and not Zach Eflin. Eflin has battled a stubborn blister on his right middle finger. The Phils want to give it a chance to heal so he was scratched as Sunday’s scheduled starter and placed on the disabled list. The problem should be gone by the time he makes his first start after the All-Star break. In the meantime, the Phillies — and everyone else — get another look at De Los Santos, who won his big-league debut against the Mets with 6 1/3 innings of three-run ball Tuesday. It would not be out of the question for the Phillies to use De Los Santos in a trade.

The Phillies will need to give De Los Santos more offensive help than they gave Nola on Saturday. The Phillies had not lost a game started by Nola since June 6 and the right-hander had not personally lost since May 20.

Nola had an interesting start. He labored through the first inning and gave up two runs while throwing 31 pitches. Over the next five innings, however, he did not allow a run while giving up just one hit and throwing an economical 62 pitches. In other words, he was Nola.

“I just put my head down and kept pitching,” he said.

Nola kept his team in the game, but the offense never arrived to bail him out. Miami right-hander Trevor Richards, who entered with an ERA over 5.00, held the Phils to four hits over six shutout innings.

“I thought Noles was excellent again today,” Kapler said. “Obviously, the first inning, there was a lot of work. Some balls found some holes. That turned out to be enough to beat us. But I still thought he had a tremendous first half. Man, was he dependable from the very beginning of the season all the way till today.”

 

Nola heads to the All-Star Game at 12-3 with a 2.30 ERA in 20 starts. He had an excellent first half and so has the team. Even with a loss Sunday, the Phils will go into the break in first place.

“This team’s been playing pretty well,” Nola said. “Unfortunately, we took the loss today but we’re going for a series win tomorrow. I think to get that before the break is pretty important.”

More on the Phillies