Desperately in need of wins, the Phillies could not have found themselves in a better place than Phoenix these last three days. The Arizona Diamondbacks have the worst record in the National League. Coming in, a series win would have been the minimal accepted outcome for the Phillies. And a sweep? Why not? We’re talking about the Diamondbacks here.
The Phillies’ visit to the desert could not have gone worse.
Instead of winning the series, instead of getting that sweep, it was the Phillies who were swept, beaten in all three games by the lowly Diamondbacks.
Embarrassing? Yep. Unacceptable? Yep.
What time do the Eagles kick off?
Looking to salvage at least a win in the series, the Phillies had their ace, Zack Wheeler, on the mound Thursday afternoon. He could not rescue the team’s punchless offense and the Phillies suffered a 6-2 loss.
“We’re frustrated, obviously,” Wheeler said afterward. “We need to play better. Pitching, hitting, everybody needs to play a little better.
“This is a team you don’t want to get swept by. It’s just true. We need to take it personal and go out and finish strong and start winning some games, start playing some good baseball and be consistent.”
The Phillies, who led the NL East by two games after a win on Aug. 8, have lost seven of their last nine to slip four games behind the division-leading Atlanta Braves, who are 13-3 in August and might end up running away with their fourth straight division title.
“Obviously, you notice what they’re doing, but I can’t worry about the Braves,” manager Joe Girardi said. “I have to worry about our guys and that’s what I’m focused on, trying to get this right.”
The Phils are now 61-60.
Since starting the month with eight straight wins to move into first place, the Phillies’ offense has gone missing. Over the last nine games, the Phils are hitting .181 and averaging 2.3 runs per game.
“We haven’t been hitting for 10 days,” Girardi said. “This isn’t something that came up today or yesterday. Our timing is off for whatever reason. It’s hard to figure out but we'll keep working at it. We’ve got to get it figured out.”
The Phils had just 14 hits in the three games in Arizona and scored just six runs.
Bryce Harper went 1 for 11 in the series. J.T. Realmuto went 0 for 11. Andrew McCutchen went 1 for 11. Ronald Torreyes was 2 for 11. Didi Gregorius was 2 for 10. Jean Segura was 2 for 13.
Segura led off Thursday’s game with a double against Madison Bumgarner. After that, the Phillies did not have another hit until the eighth inning. They had seven hits in all and six of them came in the final two innings, after they were already trailing, 6-0.
Bumgarner, relying on a cutter and a 89-90 mph fastball that he located well, pitched a season-high eight innings and gave up just three hits and one run. He allowed just one hit and no runs through his first seven innings of work.
Wheeler was good, very good, in fact, at least for the first six innings. He did not allow a hit until David Peralta doubled with two outs in the fourth. The D-backs turned that into a 1-0 lead on a bloop single by Christian Walker.
Wheeler didn’t allow another run until the seventh when Arizona rallied for five after a blown third strike call led to a leadoff double by Walker. The blown call wasn’t the story of the game. The Phillies’ awful offense was. It was the story of the whole series.
The Diamondbacks entered the series with a 38-81 record.
Did the Phillies take them too lightly?
“No. No. No,” Girardi said. “They just beat the Padres three out of four. Our guys come out with energy every day. We're just not hitting."
And now the Phillies move on to San Diego for three against the Padres starting Friday night.
The Phillies’ offense could surely use a boost. Could Rhys Hoskins, the team leader in homers and RBIs, come off the injured list in time for Friday night’s game?
“Maybe,” Girardi said.
The Phils may have suffered another injury. Odubel Herrera was hit on the left elbow by a pitch from Bumgarner in the eighth inning and had to leave the game. He had an X-ray, according to Girardi, but the results were not known.