Aaron Judge

A June to forget for Jake Arrieta and the (lack of) defense behind him

A June to forget for Jake Arrieta and the (lack of) defense behind him

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Aaron Judge, Giancarlo Stanton and the rest of the New York Yankees put on a jaw-dropping power display in batting practice Tuesday night. It was so impressive that they were cheered — loudly — when batting practice ended by the many fans who had made the trip to Philadelphia to support them.

Three pitches into the game, the cheering started again when Aaron Hicks crushed a Jake Arrieta fastball over the center-field wall.

Ballgame. 

The Phillies were dominated for the second night in a row in a 6-0 loss to the Yankees, who lead the American League East at 52-25 (see first take). The Phillies are 41-36 in the National League East.

Arrieta had a tough time locating his fastball with precision and he was hurt once again by his defense as an error by second baseman Cesar Hernandez led to three unearned runs in the third inning.

Earlier this month, Arrieta called out the defense after a loss in San Francisco.

This time, he was a little more philosophical.

“We didn’t score any runs so pretty much after the third pitch of the game, that was pretty much it,” he said. “You obviously don’t know that that’s going to be the case until the game plays out.”

Hernandez’s error — the Phillies’ 57th of the season, third most in the NL — came on a tailor-made double-play ball that would have ended the top of the third. Arrieta struck out Stanton for the second out then allowed two straight two-out hits.

“It was unfortunate, but I gave up nine hits and had an opportunity, even after the error,” Arrieta said. “Punch out Stanton and then base hit. Don’t give up the base hit and if it’s a tighter game going into the fifth or sixth inning, it might be a different outcome. That's my job to keep it as close as we can.” 

A month ago, Arrieta walked out of Dodger Stadium looking like the $75 million ace the Phillies hoped they were getting when they signed him over the winter. He went 2-1 in five starts in May and recorded an 0.90 ERA after giving up just three earned runs in 30 innings.

June was a different story. Arrieta went 0-4 with a 6.66 ERA in five starts. He gave up 32 hits, including seven home runs, in 25 2/3 innings. He allowed 27 runs, 19 of which were earned.

While Arrieta clearly was not sharp during the month, there was another factor in his struggles. The Phillies did not play sound defense behind him as the eight unearned runs attest. Shortstop Scott Kingery had a tough game behind Arrieta in a loss at Milwaukee. And then there was Hernandez in this one.

“Obviously, the stuff is there,” said Andrew Knapp, who caught Arrieta on Tuesday night. “Just kind of lacking a little bit of sharpness going into some hitters. I don't know if it's mechanical or just bad luck. I mean, we have to play better defense behind him. That's just a fact. He got a couple ground balls today that would have helped us. But, I mean, I'm not exactly sure what's going to get him over the hump. I know it's not a lack of effort.”

The month of June started with Arrieta publicly singling out Kingery for poor defense in San Francisco. Arrieta said the team needed to be more accountable after that loss. Since then, he is 0-3 with a 6.40 ERA in four starts. 

While Arrieta has backed off his criticism of the team’s defense, his words still resonate to the point where one has to wonder if the defense plays a little tight behind him.

Manager Gabe Kapler scoffed at that notion.

“I don't see Scott and Cesar as playing anything but loose behind all of our pitchers,” Kapler said. “In fact, I think we've seen that consistently with Scott, and Cesar has been solid on defense all season long. One moment does not make a man.”

Kapler did acknowledge that it wasn’t easy for a pitcher to overcome an error like the one Hernandez made.

“There’s no question,” he said. “I think it’s always difficult when you get a ground ball and we’re not able to make a play behind it. At the same time, Jake is Jake for a reason — because he’s able to weather those kinds of storms. That’s why he’s so important to us because he’s able to come back from those situations and get big outs. I have 100 percent confidence that the next time out he’s going to be the Jake that we believe in and depend on. It’s part of baseball. Guys make errors and you have to get ready for the next pitch and the next game.”

Against the powerhouse Yankees, there isn’t room for poor defense. There especially wasn’t with the way 24-year-old right-hander Luis Severino was pitching Tuesday night. He delivered seven innings of shutout ball, walked none and struck out nine for his majors-leading 12th win. His fastball averaged 98 mph and reached 100 mph.

“He was as dirty as possibly could be,” Kapler said. “He had a lot of life on the fastball. It was difficult to catch up to. The hitters knew it was going to be on top of them. He just had a little extra life today and sometime you just have to tip your cap to the opposing pitcher.”

Two nights in a row the Phillies have had to do that. Rookie Jonathan Loaisiga manhandled them on Monday night. The Phils have been outscored, 10-2, in two nights. They have just nine hits in the first two games of the series and have racked up 25 strikeouts.

“Dropping two in a row to these guys is tough, but they flat out beat us,” Arrieta said. “We’ll look to return the favor [Wednesday].”

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Phillies fall to Yankees and sound like visitors in their own park

Phillies fall to Yankees and sound like visitors in their own park

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All the ingredients for a big ol' pot of frustration were there for the Phillies on Monday night.

A kid making his third big-league start dominated them on the mound.

They racked up an ungodly 15 strikeouts.

They had just three hits.

They were 1 for 8 with runners in scoring position.

And on top of it all, they were like visitors in their own ballpark, the hometown fans outnumbered and outshouted by fans of the New York Yankees, who fueled just the second sellout crowd of the season — 44,136 — at Citizens Bank Park.

The Yankees rode a stellar start from rookie Jonathan Loaisiga and timely hits from Gleyber Torres, Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton to a 4-2 victory in their first trip to Philadelphia since the 2009 World Series (see first take).

The frustration of that World Series loss led to team owner John Middleton's famous "I want my bleeping trophy back" comment.

The frustration of Monday night's loss led to Rhys Hoskins, the leader of this young Phillies club, getting into a brief but quite noticeable verbal spat with a fan behind the home dugout.

The incident occurred after Hoskins struck out against reliever David Robertson with runners on second and third in what was then a two-run game in the bottom of the sixth. Hoskins got back to the top step of the dugout, heard something from a fan and shot back. He then put his helmet down and returned to the top step of the dugout and suggested that the fan go up to the plate and hit. Eventually, Hoskins told the fan to "Go home."

After the game, Hoskins waited at his locker for reporters. He called his actions a mistake and owned up to them.

"I'll start by saying I'm aware of what happened, obviously," he said. "Someone said something in the stands that triggered me. I was pretty frustrated by the at-bat that I just had and compounded with the mistake. I got caught up in the moment. It shouldn't happen. It can't happen. But it did. And that's how it goes.

"I couldn't even tell you (what was said). Obviously, there's a lot going on. Big game. Big situation in the game. It's late in the game. Don't even remember. Can't even tell you what he looks like."

The pitch that Hoskins struck out on eluded catcher Austin Romine, but Hoskins did not immediately run to first base. Hoskins said he did not notice that the ball got away from Romine.

"I'm not deliberately not running," he said. "I don't believe that's the kind of player that I am. That was not deliberate at all."

Hoskins showed character taking the issue head-on.

"I think it's a necessary thing," the 25-year-old slugger said. "In today's world, I know that everything gets caught. I just kind of assumed that it was. I was in the wrong. I think it's right to address it, move on from it, and it won't be a distraction."

Manager Gabe Kapler spoke to Hoskins and was ready to move on.

"I think he was a little bit frustrated in that moment and Rhys always says and does the right thing," Kapler said. "He's always standing up for his teammates. He's imperfect. He gets frustrated just like anybody else. We talked about it. It's behind us."

The loss, too, is behind the Phillies, but looming Tuesday night is Yankees ace Luis Severino. He is one of the best young pitchers in the game and is 11-2 with a 2.24 ERA.

Loaisiga was brilliant Monday night. He carried a no-hitter into the sixth inning and struck out eight.

"The guy has good stuff," Hoskins said. "Obviously, he's 95 to 97 (mph) with a pretty good breaking ball. When a guy with that kind of stuff is putting it where he wants to, you're not going to get many pitches to hit. It's pretty hard to hit when they're doing that. I think he located pretty well with both pitches. With the wipeout breaking ball, he was getting swings and misses."

Phillies starter Vince Velasquez paid the price for a second-inning walk and wild pitch when Torres doubled to right despite being fooled by on a 2-2 slider. Three innings later, Velasquez gave up a bullet of a homer to Judge. It came off the bat at 110.9 mph and rocketed over the left-field wall about 20 feet above the ground. The Yankees salted it away with two in the eighth against struggling Adam Morgan.

Phillies fans were loud. Yankees fans were louder.

"It was fun," Hoskins said. "Good atmosphere. We as players dream of that. Obviously, we'd like it to be swayed more our way. But that's the Yankees. The Yankees travel. They always do. They always will. No matter where they are. I've never been in a playoff baseball game but I imagine that's pretty close to what it feels like."

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Rhys Hoskins has words with ump and fans in frustrating loss to Yankees

Rhys Hoskins has words with ump and fans in frustrating loss to Yankees

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Citizens Bank Park became Yankee Stadium on the Delaware on Monday night.

Making their first visit to Philadelphia since the 2009 World Series, the New York Yankees brought droves of their fans with them — and the Yanks gave their many backers something to cheer about by handing the Phillies a 4-2 defeat.

It was a frustrating loss for the Phillies, who were dominated by a rookie starter and finished the night with just three hits, one a solo homer by Maikel Franco against gas-throwing Aroldis Chapman with two outs in the bottom of the ninth.

The frustration was palpable in the team's most respected player. Rhys Hoskins had words with home plate umpire Joe West after being called out looking at a third strike in the fourth inning. West, known for his short fuse, removed his mask and stared down Hoskins as the player voice his displeasure with the call.

Two innings later, in a key point in the game, Hoskins struck out again, this time with runners on second and third base. The ball got away from catcher Austin Romine and Hoskins was late getting down the first base line. Romine retrieved the ball and completed the out at first base. Upon returning to the dugout, Hoskins engaged in some not-so-friendly byplay with a fan above the dugout. Hoskins was clearly agitated with the fan. After going down the dugout stairs and removing his helmet, he returned to the top step and jawed a little more with the fan. Hoskins pointed toward home plate and appeared to say, "You go hit," to the fan.

It was 80 degrees, perfect baseball weather, at first pitch. The seats were packed with just the second sellout crowd of the year — 44,136 — at Citizens Bank Park.

Phillies starter Vince Velasquez did not pitch badly, but he had no margin for error and paid a price for a couple of mistakes. Velasquez went six innings and gave up just three hits and two runs. However, he walked four and threw a costly wild pitch. He walked Greg Bird to lead off the second then threw a wild pitch. Velasquez then fooled the next batter, Gleyber Torres, with a 2-2 slider, but the off-balance Torres got enough wood on the ball to dunk an RBI double down the right-field line for a run.

In the fifth, Velasquez went to his slider again with a 2-2 count and Aaron Judge scorched a liner over the left-field wall to give the Yanks a 2-0 lead. Judge's homer came off the bat at 110.9 miles per hour.

Jonathan Loaisiga was brilliant for the Yankees in just his third big-league start. He came out of the gate with five no-hit innings and left after giving up a single, a walk and a groundout in the sixth. Reliever David Robertson came on and got two outs, including the strikeout of Hoskins, to end the Phillies' threat.

Loaisiga, 23, opened the season in the Single A Florida State League. Nine weeks ago, he pitched against the Clearwater Threshers, the Phillies' minor-league team in that league. In this one, he gave up just one hit and two walks while striking out eight in 5⅓ scoreless innings.

The Phillies got on the board and made it a 2-1 game when Scott Kingery singled home Carlos Santana with one out in the seventh. The rally went no further as Franco and Jorge Alfaro struck out. Alfaro struck out against Dellin Betances after Kingery had stolen second.

The Yankees pulled away with two runs against the Phillies' beleaguered bullpen in the top of the eighth. Giancarlo Stanton knocked in both runs with a bases-loaded high chop over a drawn-infield on the first pitch he saw from Yacksel Rios. Both runs were charged to Adam Morgan.

Chapman survived the Franco homer and got the final four outs for the Yankees, who are 51-25.

The Phillies are 41-35.

Notes

• The Phillies recalled reliever Hector Neris from Triple A just a week after he was demoted. Neris replaced reliever Edubray Ramos, who went on the disabled list with an impingement in his right shoulder. Neris pitched a 1-2-3 sixth inning.

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