On Sunday Phillies reliever Hector Neris hit Buster Posey in the back. Posey thought it was intentional and, after the game, said “I guess he didn’t feel he could get me out.”
Was it intentional? There’s a lot to suggest it wasn’t. Mostly the game situation: the Phillies had a two-run lead, but Neris was called in with two men on base and hitting Posey put the tying run in scoring position, which is not something a reliever usually wants to do with his first pitch of the game. Beyond that, while Neris and former Giant Eduardo Nunez had a bit of an incident earlier this season (Neris blew a kiss at Nunez after some words), there was no bad blood between Posey and Neris. When the pitch hit Posey in the back Neris seemed to react negatively, as if he didn’t mean to do it, and said as much after the game.
Oh well, it’s not uncommon for guys who get hit to be angry about it, even if it was uninentional. It’s not uncommon for guys who hit someone to say it was an accident, even if it wasn’t. You can file this one in the “unsolved” drawer forever, where it will be forgotten.
“It wasn’t just a little inside. The same guy — I’ll say it, he’s an idiot. He showed it in Philadelphia when he was having words with (Eduardo) Nuñez, so I think that caused the radar to be up a little bit on what happened there. It wasn’t a glancing blow. It was at his ribs and on the backside of his ribs. I’m not surprised. I would have been upset, too. You never know for sure, but it certainly didn’t look good. Anyway, that’s behind us.”
I guess it was, anyway. The Giants don’t face the Phillies again this year, but remember it for next year.
The Phillies have been embarrassing for the last two months. It’s no secret, as the club entered Wednesday’s game against the Cardinals at 22-47, a full three games worse than the next-worst team (Padres, 27-46). There’s not a whole lot they’ve done right this year. The Phillies have the third-worst offense in baseball, the fifth-worst pitching staff, and they have the fifth-worst stolen base success rate. The bullpen had blown 12 saves, tied for the fifth-most in baseball.
Somehow, the Phillies managed to raise the bar for embarrassment on Wednesday night. The game was fine through eight innings, as the Phillies were holding onto a 5-4 lead. Hector Neris took the mound to start the ninth, looking to lock down the save. After getting Yadier Molina to fly out, Neris served up a game-tying solo home run to Tommy Pham, blowing the save. That moved the Phillies into a tie with four other teams for the major league lead in blown saves.
The Phillies, to their credit, rallied in the bottom of the ninth as Howie Kendrick singled with one out. Odubel Herrera reached after hitting into a 5-4 force out at second. Freddy Galvis then hit a weak line drive down the third base line that bounced off of the facing of the stands, back into shallow left field. Herrera is fast, but not score-from-first-on-a-grounder-to-left-fast. Herrera wheeled around third base as third base coach Juan Samuel threw up the stop sign. Herrera ignored it and was thrown out by a good 15 feet by Pham from left field.
It gets worse. Edubray Ramos started the 10th inning of a 5-5 game. He immediately allowed a double to Jose Martinez, putting the go-ahead run at second base. During Matt Carpenter‘s at-bat, Ramos balked, moving Martinez to third. After striking Carpenter out, Dexter Fowler was intentionally walked. Aledmys Diaz pinch-hit for Brett Cecil. During Diaz’s at-bat, Ramos attempted to pick Fowler off at first base, but airmailed the throw to Tommy Joseph. Martinez scored the go-ahead run easily and Fowler advanced to second base. Adam Morgan relieved Ramos and got Diaz to fly out. Morgan then intentionally walked Jedd Gyorko to bring up Yadier Molina, who singled to right field, giving the Cardinals a crucial insurance run. Pham struck out looking to mercifully end the inning.
The Phillies again rallied in the bottom of the 10th, scoring a run to close the gap to 7-6, but would eventually lose when closer Seung-Hwan Oh struck out Aaron Altherr swinging. Last night, Ramos and Casey Fien combined to allow seven runs in the 11th inning to lose to the Cardinals 8-1. That inning included back-to-back walks to lead off the inning, a Maikel Franco error, and home runs from Molina and Pham.
I’ve been a Phillies fan since before I could even talk. I lived through the absolutely dreadful teams the Phillies put together between the mid-1990’s and the mid-2000’s. The rosters were chock full of relatively untalented players who lacked fundamentals in one way or another. Having watched this year’s iteration of the Phillies, now 22-48 and losers of 39 of their last 50 games, I feel confident in saying that the 2017 Phils are the worst team, fundamentally and otherwise, of my lifetime. Wednesday’s game was, to date, the apex of their season-long bout of incompetence.
Fans have become increasingly frustrated, and understandably so. A team committed to a rebuild has yet to show any positive signs. Franco and Herrera (until recently) have punched well below their weight. No. 1 prospect J.P. Crawford has a .562 OPS at Triple-A. Young pitchers like Jerad Eickhoff, Vince Velasquez, Aaron Nola, and Hector Neris have had inconsistent seasons at best. As the 2011-14 Astros showed us, however, sometimes you have to play really bad baseball before you play really good baseball, so there is precedent for teams as bad or worse than the Phillies eventually recovering. It’s just really hard to watch right now.
Indians 12, Dodgers 5: Lonnie Chisenhall didn’t start this game but he sure as hell helped finish it. The Indians outfielder came in as a pinch hitter in the fifth and smacked a three-run homer. Then he singled in two more runs in the sixth to give him five on the day. The Dodgers’ six-game winning streak was snapped.
Twins 6, Mariners 2: Chris Gimenez hit two homers and Eduardo Escobar homered for the second straight game. He’s 10-for-14 over the past three games, in fact, with five driven in. Jose Berrios allowed two runs over eight innings, dropping his ERA to 2.74 and giving him his sixth win on the year.
White Sox 5, Orioles 2: A four-run sixth inning for the Sox knocked out Chris Tillman and the O’s. Rookie Matt Davidson homered for the fourth straight game. Avisail Garcia and Rick Renteria were both ejected following a called strike on a check swing. Was it because of a crazy, over-the-top argument? Nah. It was because Garcia did this to the first base umpire:
Avisail Garcia got tossed for looking at the first base ump and doing this. Not particularly smart, but not really ejection worthy. pic.twitter.com/MndSVou2y3
Phillies 1, Red Sox 0: Normally when you allow one run over eight innings and strike out ten you’re gonna win. Yesterday was not normal for Chris Sale and the Red Sox, though, as Phillies starter Nick Pivetta tossed seven shutout innings, striking out nine and Pete Neshek and Hector Neris each tossed a shutout inning in relief. A pinch-hit RBI double for Ty Kelly in the eighth was the game’s only scoring on this very getaway day game.
Nationals 8, Mets 3: Bryce Harper smacked the hardest-hit home run in baseball since they began measuring such things. A laser beam that left his bat at 116.3 miles per hour, only flew 49 feet high and ricocheted off the bleachers and bounced back onto the field:
Tigers 5, Rays 3: Miguel Cabrera hasn’t been his usual power hitting self this year. Indeed, coming into this one he hadn’t hit a dinger since May 20th. Here, however, he hit a two-run shot in the bottom of the ninth to give Detroit the walkoff win. They needed to walk if off because Francisco Rodriguez gave up a tying homer in the eighth to Steven Souza. Earlier this week K-Rod had complained about how he was being used since he lost his closing gig. If he thinks it was bad before, he’s in for a rude awakening.
Brewers 6, Cardinals 4: Keon Broxton and Eric Thames each homered, with the former going 489 feet and the latter just barely getting out. They all count, though, and Thames’ was a tie-breaker in the eighth inning to boot. Milwaukee takes the series against St. Louis. That’s the second straight series they’ve taken against the Cardinals after going 17 straight series against them without winning one.
Rockies 10, Giants 9: Your typical Coors Field non-pitcher’s duel, in which the Giants came back from an 8-0 deficit and tying it at nine in the ninth. Things weren’t decided here until rookie Raimel Tapia hit a walkoff RBI single. Nolan Arenado doubled three times and drove in four and D.J. LeMahieu got four hits. The Rockies have won 10 of their last 14. The Giants have lost 10 of their last 14.
Athletics 8, Yankees 7: A wild one, as Oakland took a 3-0 lead by the second and New York tied at three in the sixth. From there on it became tied at 4, at 5 and at 6 and went to extra innings. Khris Davis ended all of that with a walkoff bloop single in the tenth. The A’s end a three-game skid in this four hour and twenty nine minute affair.
Royals 7, Angels 2: Lorenzo Cain and Alex Gordon hit solo home runs That’s five straight wins for the Royals, coming in San Diego, San Francisco and Anaheim. The west coast has been the best coast for the Royals. Yep, they have really enjoyed those California nights.