The Phillies’ six-game West Coast trip ended with a thud as Zach Eflin was socked by the Giants in an 11-2 loss and Spencer Howard looked equally shaky in relief.
Eflin allowed four home runs, which he’d done just once before in 2017 against the Reds.
Two of the longballs came in the first inning. Eflin was ahead in the count against left-handed-hitting Mike Yastrzemski but threw his fastball up-and-in and paid for it with a deep shot to right.
"We talk about it all the time, we’ve given up way too many two-strike hits overall," manager Joe Girardi said. "If we’re going to get to the next level, we have to be better at that. Bad execution is really what it comes down to."
Wilmer Flores followed with the first of two homers and the Giants cruised to a comfortable win.
The Phillies scored their two runs on J.T. Realmuto’s homer to straightaway center in the third inning. He also singled and doubled and is hitting .292/.397/.491.
That briefly made the game close but Brandon Crawford answered with a home run off of Eflin the next half-inning.
Eflin had no command in this one and experienced five stressful frames, giving up seven runs as his ERA rose to 4.39.
The Phillies are built around their top starting pitching trio of Aaron Nola, Zack Wheeler and Zach Eflin. Nearly halfway through the season, only Wheeler has delivered consistently. He has been incredible with a 2.15 ERA. Nola and Eflin have a combined 4.31 ERA (the league average is 4.12) and the Phillies are 13-16 in their starts.
Howard, who was skipped in the rotation because of his own struggles and the Phillies’ three off-days in a seven-day span, pitched in relief. He, too, struggled with command. He threw 53 pitches, recorded five outs, put five men on base and two of them scored. He has a 5.77 ERA and 1.58 WHIP in 14 appearances as a big-leaguer. He desperately needs a confidence-building outing, as a starter or reliever.
“Started off good, it did not end well,” Girardi said. “As (his second) inning got longer, he lost the strike zone and couldn’t throw his offspeed for strikes."
The Phillies went 2-4 on their trip to Los Angeles and San Francisco. It was the expected result against the teams with the top two records in baseball.
"Two really good teams and we had a chance," Girardi said. "We didn’t get it done today. We had a bad start and were never able to recover."
The Phils return home 34-35 and four games back of the Mets in the NL East, a game ahead of the Nationals and 1½ ahead of the Braves.
They're off Monday and then play two against the Nationals. Wheeler goes in the first game, Vince Velasquez in the second. They’re off again Thursday and then play every day until the All-Star break with 18 games in 17 days.