So where exactly did the Phillies’ offense fall off the plane on the flight home from the West Coast late Sunday night?
Fresh from a 5-2 trip in which they averaged more than seven runs per game, the Phils returned home to Citizens Bank Park on Tuesday night and suffered a 3-0 loss at the hands of the San Diego Padres.
It was the fourth time that the Phillies have been shut out in 36 games this season. They have been held to one run in five other games.
The Phils had just one hit through six innings and were held to five for the game. All were singles and one was an infield hit. Phillies hitters did not draw a walk. They struck out 10 times, four by Kyle Schwarber.
It didn’t help that the Phils were without Bryce Harper for a second straight game as he recovers from a medical procedure on his injured right elbow. The Phils have lost two straight without Harper, who might not be back until Thursday.
Manager Joe Girardi shrugged when asked if not having Harper was the reason the offense struggled.
“I don’t think so,” Girardi said. “I think it’s just a night -- I don’t think we had a whole lot to hit and we didn’t necessarily swing the bats great. We didn’t walk tonight. I just think it was one of those nights. (San Diego starter Mike) Clevinger looked like he was throwing the ball pretty well. (Reliever MacKenzie) Gore threw it well. It was just one of those nights.”
The feeble offensive showing came after the Phillies' bats came up big in seven games out West against the Seattle Mariners and Los Angeles Dodgers. The Phils hit .287 on the trip with 31 extra-base hits and 14 homers.
Phillies starter Zach Eflin watched the West Coast games from back home in Philadelphia as he recovered from a bout of COVID-19.
Eflin kept his arm working by playing catch with his wife while the team was on the road. He couldn’t wait to get back on the mound and feel some of the love that the bat rack was spreading around the Pacific Time Zone. He didn’t get any.
“It’s baseball,” said the right-hander, who gave up five hits and just one run in six innings after going 15 days between starts. “We didn’t swing the bats too well, and that happens.
“We faced two really good teams in the Mariners and the Dodgers and did really well against them on the road. It definitely fired me up.”
The loss dropped the Phillies to 17-19 with two more to play against the Padres and three to come against the Dodgers on this homestand. The Padres are 23-13. The Dodgers are 23-12.
Clevinger, who missed all of last season recovering from Tommy John surgery, pitched well in just his third start of the season. He held the Phillies to just a single over five shutout innings. He walked none and struck out five.
The Phillies put a couple of men on base in the top of the seventh inning as Nick Castellanos and Jean Segura (13-game hitting streak) both singled against reliever MacKenzie Gore. The threat died when Odubel Herrera popped out and J.T. Realmuto grounded out. Realmuto went just 4 for 22 on the trip and is hitless in his last 13 at-bats.
One of the five hits that Eflin allowed in his six innings of work was a Wil Myers ground ball through a shifted infield that the Padres turned into their first run in the fifth inning. With the infield shifted to the left side, Eflin tried to backdoor the righty-hitting Myers with a 1-2 sinker. Myers hit a soft grounder through the heart of the second base position.
“Nine times out of 10, he’s going to pull the ball, but I thought I could freeze him because I got him there earlier,” Eflin said. “He’s a good hitter, so he did what he had to do.”
The Padres scored two more against reliever James Norwood in the seventh. Norwood walked the first batter he faced then allowed a single to left that was misplayed by Schwarber. A run scored on the misplay.
It was a tough night for Schwarber, who is hitting .183. He was not immediately available to speak with reporters because he was working in the batting cage.
Zack Wheeler will look to play the role of stopper Wednesday night. Lefty Blake Snell will come off the injured list to make his season debut for the Padres.