So much for that momentum — Phillies blow 7-run lead to Marlins, plummet to horrendous loss

So much for that momentum — Phillies blow 7-run lead to Marlins, plummet to horrendous loss


MIAMI — You’d be hard-pressed to find a more ugly, more frustrating, more infuriating performance by the Phillies this season than the one they turned in Friday night.

The Phils blew an early seven-run lead and lost, 19-11, to the lowly Miami Marlins.

It was the type of performance that just can’t happen from a team in a playoff race.

The Marlins came into the game having lost six in a row (they scored just 13 runs in those games) and 16 of their previous 19. They were ranked last in the majors in OPS (.661), second-to-last in runs per game (3.62) and third-to-last in batting average (.240). They proceeded to maul Phillies pitching for 19 hits and 19 runs. And to think, the Phillies were coming off two wins in Boston, where they held one of majors’ best hitting teams to four runs in those games.

Bryce Harper missed the game — he’s on paternity leave after his wife gave birth to a son — but the Phillies’ offense did not suffer. The Phils raced out to a 7-0 lead in the third inning only to see starter Vince Velasquez give it all back in the bottom of the third inning.

The Phils led 9-7 in the fifth and blew that lead, as well. The Marlins scored five times in that inning. Four of the runs were unearned. Even the defense was bad.

The Phils entered the night two games back in the NL wild card race.

Vinny Velo’s night

It was bad.

And the funny thing is, he’d actually made strides recently. Over his last five starts, he’d recorded a 3.21 ERA. He should have been able to protect a 7-0 lead, but he didn’t. He lost it quickly as the Marlins got him for five hits, including a homer, and seven runs in the third inning. Velasquez’ problems started when he hit the first batter of the inning, Lewis Brinson, with an 0-2 pitch.

Extra-base hits hurt

Velasquez was tagged for a game-tying, three-run homer by Isan Diaz in the third.

Reliever Nick Pivetta gave up a go-ahead, two-run double to Neil Walker in the fifth. That came on an 0-2 pitch. Manager Gabe Kapler had lefty Ranger Suarez up in the ‘pen with the lefty-hitting Walker at the plate. Kapler stuck with Pivetta and the right-hander could not put Walker away.

Starlin Castro came off the bench and homered twice for the Marlins, who had four homers in all.

Cold corner

The Phillies were hurt by two defensive miscues at third base. The biggie was Maikel Franco’s error on a potential double-play ball with one out in the fifth. It opened the floodgates for the Marlins to score five runs in that inning and take a 12-9 lead. Four of those runs were unearned.

Brad Miller started the game at third and failed to make a play on a ball hit by John Berti toward the line in the third inning. It wasn’t an easy play but it was probably makeable and it would have been the second out. It ended up being one of the five hits that Velasquez gave up in the inning.

Franco had just come back from a banishment to Triple A. He had an RBI single, but struggled badly at third base. In addition to making the error, he did not look good on two plays that were ruled hits.

Teams you can’t lose to

The Phillies are 6-8 against the Marlins this season.

To put that in perspective, here’s how the other teams in the NL East have fared against the Marlins so far this season:

Atlanta is 15-4.

The Mets are 11-4.

Washington is 10-3.

Players (get to wear ugly uniforms) Weekend

Both teams wore special uniforms — the Marlins wore all white, the Phillies all black — as part of Players Weekend. Players also wore nicknames on the back of their uniforms. 

Up next

Zach Eflin (7-11, 4.57) pitches against Miami right-hander Jordan Yamamoto (4-4, 4.31) on Saturday night.

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Joe Girardi defends himself against sign-stealing video – 'We caught them,' he says

Joe Girardi defends himself against sign-stealing video – 'We caught them,' he says

CLEARWATER, Fla. — The story that won’t go away wended its way through Phillies camp Thursday in the form of a 22-second video of Joe Girardi talking about illicit sign-stealing.

The video was plucked from a segment on sign-stealing that Girardi participated in during his time with the MLB Network. It was taped in mid-October, just before he was named Phillies manager.

In the video, analyst and former big-league pitcher Al Leiter asks Girardi, “What did you guys use?”

The question is accompanied by some laughs but it’s clear that Leiter is asking what means the New York Yankees used to pick up signs during Girardi’s time as manager of that club from 2008 to 2017.

Girardi responds by saying, “I was part of a system …” He then explains how signs were detected “upstairs” and relayed down to the dugout and field.

At first blush, it sounds rather incriminating. 

Until you hear how Girardi punctuates his comment.

“We eventually caught it,” he says in the video.

Girardi knew the video had been making the rounds — he said it made him laugh — and was prepared to answer questions about it after Thursday's workout.

“If people listen to the whole video, you can put 2 and 2 together and know what I’m talking about,” he said. “We caught them.”

Caught who?

There was a long pause.

“Put 2 and 2 together,” he said.

The implication was that Girardi was talking about the Houston Astros, who were nailed for illegal sign-stealing during the 2017 season. The Astros eliminated Girardi’s Yankees in the ALCS that season and went on to win the World Series.

But he may have been talking about the Boston Red Sox, an AL East rival of the Yankees, who are also under investigation for stealing signs illegally.

Who knows?

As fallout from the cheating scandal has engulfed baseball in the early weeks of spring training, Girardi has been mostly reserved while speaking with Philadelphia reporters about the topic. The emergence of the MLB Network video resulted in him being more expansive Thursday.

Girardi was asked about his saying, “I was part of a system” in the video.

“Yeah, the system was our system caught the other group,” he said. “If you listen to the whole video, we caught the other team. It was coming from upstairs to someone in the dugout and then relayed one way or another. I laugh because people are cutting it up and trying to make it something.

“It wasn’t our team doing it. We caught the other team doing it. And I think part of this is why the Commissioner has put out some of these rules and I think it’s important that we protect the integrity of the game because that is really important to me.”

Girardi was asked if his team reported the violating team to MLB.

“As a manager, I personally don’t, but that doesn’t mean that the team I was on didn’t,” he said.

The video dealt extensively with the importance of teams protecting their signs from being stolen and that has been a theme of Girardi’s first camp with the Phillies.

“A lot of people want to talk about what happened in 2017, ‘18, ’19,” he said. “No. It’s what we do moving forward, guys, that’s important to me.

“It’s complicated in a lot of manners and guarding your signs is really difficult today with all the cameras and everything you can see. So you have to be really clever. It’s hard.”

MLB is expected to come up with tighter guidelines regarding access to video around the dugout before opening day. One possible solution would be locking down the video room at game time. But that comes with complications because teams need access to instant replay to challenge umpire calls.

“I don’t know if I’ve thought through it enough because I know players like watching their at-bats,” Girardi said. “I think the replay room has caused a lot of consequences that they did not foresee. And I’m a proponent of replay. I think it’s important. But there’s some consequences that I don’t know any of us foresaw as we put this is in because it’s usually right next to the video room."

One potential solution is barring players from watching video during the games — it seemed to work OK for Ted Williams and Mike Schmidt — and moving those who keep tabs on potential replay challenges upstairs to the press/broadcast level.

Girardi said he wouldn’t mind if those who oversee replay challenges moved upstairs but he’s not sure about closing off the video room to players.

“I don’t know what the right answer is because players like watching their at-bats,” he said.

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Phillies beat J.T. Realmuto in salary arbitration hearing

Phillies beat J.T. Realmuto in salary arbitration hearing

CLEARWATER, Fla. — The verdict is in.

The Phillies have beaten catcher J.T. Realmuto in salary arbitration, a person with knowledge of the decision confirmed to NBC Sports Philadelphia. The All-Star catcher will make $10 million in 2020. Realmuto, who made $5.9 million last season, had sought $12.4 million in arbitration.

An arbitration panel heard arguments from both sides during a hearing Wednesday in Phoenix and on Thursday informed the parties that it had decided in the team’s favor.

Realmuto is back from Arizona and was seen hitting in the cage Thursday afternoon at Carpenter Complex but was unavailable for comment.

Despite losing his case, Realmuto will still make a record salary for an arbitration-eligible catcher. The previous record was held by Mike Napoli, who made $9.4 million with the Texas Rangers in 2012.

The Phillies had not been involved in an arbitration hearing since 2008 when they lost to Ryan Howard. He made $10 million that season.

Realmuto attended the hearing and is expected back in Phillies camp on Thursday.

Arbitration hearings can sometimes create hard feelings between a team and a player, but Realmuto has thus far been able to chalk up the entire process to the business of baseball. 

“One way or another, I’m going to be playing baseball in Philly this year,” he said on Monday. “I’m going to either be making $10 million or $12 million, and I’ll be happy either way. I’m blessed to get to do what I do for a living for a lot of money so either way I’m happy.”

Surely, the Phillies hope Realmuto maintains that posture in the coming weeks as the two sides begin to explore a contract extension that will keep the player from becoming a free agent at season’s end.

Realmuto is expected to seek in the neighborhood of $23 million per season, matching Joe Mauer’s record salary for a catcher, over a five- or six-year deal. The Phillies would like to get a deal done during spring training.

“It would be nice to have some resolution prior to opening day just so it’s not a distraction to mostly the player but even to us during the season,” general manager Matt Klentak said earlier this spring. “I still feel very strongly that I would like to do that. Everyone in our organization does.”

The Phillies acquired Realmuto in a trade with Miami in February 2019. He went on to have a big year in his first season in Philadelphia. In addition to making the All-Star team, he was the catcher on the inaugural All-MLB team, and he won both the Gold Glove and Silver Slugger awards in the National League. He led all big-league catchers in hits, RBIs, total bases and extra-base hits while swatting a career-high 25 homers. He threw out 37 runners trying to steal, the most in the majors.

The Phillies have an arbitration hearing with reliever Hector Neris on Friday. Neris is seeking $5.2 million and the Phillies filed at $4.25 million. He made $1.8 million last season.

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