PHOENIX — The Phillies have lost just two games in the last eight days and, frankly, they should not have lost either of them.
Jake Arrieta pitched eight shutout innings against a rugged Arizona Diamondbacks team on Monday night and the Phillies were looking at a victory to kick off a six-game road trip when everything fell apart in the bottom of the ninth inning. Seranthony Dominguez blew a two-run lead and the Phillies went on to lose, 3-2, in 14 innings (see first take).
David Peralta, who began the onslaught against Dominguez with a one-out homer in the ninth, homered again with one out in the 14th to give Arizona the win. Peralta’s game-winner came against lefty Austin Davis.
Both Dominguez and Davis are rookies, getting baptized by fire in their first pennant race. They felt the uncomfortable burn in this one.
The loss snapped a five-game winning streak for the Phillies and it stung simply because a team looking to snap a six-year playoff drought can’t waste pitching efforts like the one Arrieta turned in.
Eight days earlier, in Boston, the Phils squandered an eight-inning gem by Aaron Nola in suffering a 2-1 loss to the Red Sox in 13 innings. That was a game the Phillies absolutely should have won. Centerfielder Odubel Herrera misplayed a ball that cost Nola the only run he allowed. Herrera also made a base-running gaffe in that game and did not play the next day.
Manager Gabe Kapler called that loss in Boston “a punch in the face.” He wasn’t as colorful in describing the latest loss, but it was clear that it was painful.
“Jake pitched tremendously well,” Kapler said. “He was very poised throughout the game. He had all of his pitches working and had a ton of confidence. He pitched great and we definitely strive to win baseball games like that for a starting pitcher that performs like Jake did.”
Arrieta has pitched 15 innings in his last two starts and allowed just one run.
“Losing a game just stinks, really,” Arrieta said. “But two first-place teams going at it and it’s no easy task to score a couple of runs off Seranthony and the guys that came in behind him, so credit them for sticking with it.
“Really nice job by both bullpens to get it to the 14th and we know at some point someone is going to score and they just happened to do it before we did.”
Dominguez began his big-league career with an incredible streak. He did not give up a run in 14 2/3 innings over his first 12 games. Since then, he has given up 11 earned runs in 25 2/3 innings over 24 games — an ERA of 3.86.
The 23-year-old power arm is still a huge weapon for the Phillies. But he is human. He allowed a home run and blew a save against Miami on Sunday. The Phillies came back to win that one. They could not win this one, though they are still 14 games over .500 and a game up on Atlanta in the NL East.
Kapler acknowledged that Dominguez was not at his best Monday night, “But we are not wavering in our confidence in him whatsoever. We cannot wait to get him back out on the mound because we understand how good he is and the talent will prevail.”
As for Dominguez’s confidence …
“I think naturally it’s going to be slightly shaken, but he’s a pretty resilient kid,” Kapler said. “He’s pretty strong mentally. He’s pretty tough across the board and I don’t expect this to keep him down.”
Dominguez hung an 0-1 slider to Peralta in the ninth. That homer made it a one-run game and raised the pressure in the inning. Dominguez then gave up a double and a game-tying base hit.
“The only thing that I can think of that went wrong is that I hung a slider,” Dominguez said. “It should have been lower. It should have been on the plate. But it stayed up. That could have been huge.
“I feel bad for Jake. He pitched a great game. What I really wanted the most was to get him that win and to help the team win.”
Dominguez might have to wait a day to get back on the mound. He has pitched two days in a row, so it’s likely that Kapler will try to stay away from him Tuesday night when the two teams go again. Nick Pivetta will pitch against Zack Greinke. Lost in the disappointment of Monday night's defeat was the Phillies' scoring just two runs. Getting hot against Greinke is never easy and that's another reason this loss was so painful for the Phils.