Mike Zarrilli/Getty Images

The Phillies played some embarrassing baseball tonight

13 Comments

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.

And That Happened: Tuesday’s Scores and Highlights

Getty Images
12 Comments

Here are the scores. Here are the highlights:

Dodgers 12, Mets 0; Mariners 5, Tigers 4: It was a huge night for the Seager brothers: Corey hit three homers for the Dodgers, driving in six. Kyle hit a walkoff double to give the M’s the win over the Tigers. My brother and I have never had a night quite that eventful, but one time in 1992 my brother, while home on leave from the Navy, skateboarded down the road in front of our house naked on the very same night I got violently ill after drinking too much Jack Daniel’s (I was 19, so “too much” was “any”) and woke up on the bathroom floor. That’s basically the same thing, right?

Giants 6, Braves 3: Atlanta had a 2-0 lead heading into the eighth, but Julio Teheran ran out of gas, giving up a three-run homer to Austin Slater. Ian Kroll came in after him and gave up two more runs — one charged to him, one to Teheran — and there was no coming back from that. Regarding that homer from Austin Slater: not bad for someone who is obviously a fictional character from a straight-to-VHS 90s action movie. Indeed, I don’t think there is any more of a 1990s name than Austin Slater. That’s the name equivalent of JNCO jeans crossed with a 1-800-COLLECT commercial.

Orioles 6, Indians 5: The Orioles can’t pitch, but when your third baseman goes 4-for-4, hits two homers and drives in four, you have a fighting chance. He also scored the winning run following a double in the seventh. Can Manny Machado pitch?

Angels 8, Yankees 3: You’ll be shocked to learn that Tyler Clippard came into a tie game and coughed up the lead. Shocked, I say!  Here it was Cameron Maybin hitting a solo homer off of him in the seventh. Clippard then gave up a double and an RBI triple. The guy who hit the triple — Yunel Escobar — would then score after Clippard got the hook. The Yankees have lost seven in a row and have fallen out of first place thanks to this loss and . . .

Red Sox 8, Royals 3: . . . this win. Chris Sale pitched eight and a third, striking out ten. Xander Bogaerts and Sandy Leon each drove in a pair, and recent callups Sam Travis and third baseman Deven Marrero drove in a run each.

Cardinals 8, Phillies 1: You don’t often see teams win extra innings game by seven runs, but the Cards did it. A pitcher’s duel between Mike Leake and Jeremy Hellickson had it at 1-1 at the end of regulation, but the Phillies bullpen — specifically, Edubray Ramos and Casey Fein — hemorrhaged runs in the 11th inning. Stephen Piscotty doubled in two and then Yadier Molina and Tommy Pham piled on with two-run homers.  Matt Carpenter‘s RBI double ended the carnage. Philly has lost 12 of its last 13 games.

Nationals 12, Marlins 3:  Stephen Drew had three hits and three RBI and Ryan Zimmerman drove in three runs with a double and a single as the Nats romped. In other news, Nats starter Gio Gonzalez had a friend sitting behind the dugout who got hit in the head with a bat, but go on and tell me that netting is a “creature of the nanny state,” my dude.

Rays 6, Reds 5: The Rays had a 6-2 lead at one point, but the Reds made it close with three-runs late thanks in large part to sloppy outfield play by the Rays. That sloppy play was by Corey Dickerson, covering center for the injured Kevin Kiermaier, so yeah. Dickerson had some karma to burn, though, as he singled in a run and homered earlier in the contest.

Pirates 7, Brewers 3: Pittsburgh jumped all over Zach Davies in the first inning with David Freese hitting a one-run single, Andrew McCutchen hitting a two-run single and Jose Ozuna hitting a three-run homer. Davis would say on to wear this one — seven runs on ten hits over five innings — but he was a dead man walking after that first inning. McCutchen would later add a homer, giving both him and Ozuna three RBI on the night.

Rangers 6, Blue Jays 1Pittsburgh Texas jumped all over Zach Davies Francisco Liriano in the first inning, with David Freese hitting a one-run single, Andrew McCutchen hitting a two-run single and Jose Ozuna hitting a three-run homer Adrian Beltre grounding in a run, Carlos Gomez hitting a solo homer and Jonathan Lucroy and Mike Napoli doubling in and singling in runs, respectively. Beltre And Nomar Mazara would later hit solo shots as Nick Martinez allowed only one run in six and a third.

Cubs 4, Padres 0: Anthony Rizzo was not hit by a pitch in retaliation for that controversial slide during his first at bat last night. I’m glad he wasn’t — plunking dudes is bad form — but the Padres may have been better off if they had hit him. Because as it was he led off the game with a homer, and that homer would prove to be the only run the Cubs would need. Rizzo now has three leadoff homers, which ties him for the NL lead. He has batted leadoff for only seven games. He is 6-for-6 with a walk to open the first inning. Starter Mike Montgomery allowed three hits and two walks in six innings, striking out four.

Twins 9, White Sox 7: Kennys Vargas and Miguel Sano each hit long homers — Vargas’ was ridiculous — as both teams beat the hell out of ineffective opposing starting pitchers in Ervin Santana and Derek Holland.

Rockies 4, Diamondbacks 3: Nolan Arenado hit a two-run triple off Zack Greinke in the eighth inning to help the Rockies rally past Arizona. Carlos Gonzalez homered and saved a run with a diving catch to help Colorado win its sixth straight. Something special is happening with this club.

Astros 8, Athletics 4: Anthony Rizzo may have a nice number of leadoff homers, but he’s got nothin’ on George Springer, who hit his eighth leadoff blast of the season in this one. That helped kick off a five run first. The A’s chipped away at that lead one run at a time, but Carlos Correa‘s two-run single in the eighth and Carlos Beltran‘s homer in the ninth put it away definitively.

Phillies place Jerad Eickhoff on DL with upper back strain

Jim Rogash/Getty Images
4 Comments

CSN Philly’s Jim Salisbury reports that the Phillies have placed starter Jerad Eickhoff on the 10-day disabled list with an upper back strain. First baseman Brock Stassi was recalled from Triple-A Lehigh Valley.

Eickhoff, 26, pitched well in his most recent start against the Diamondbacks, tossing six innings of one-run ball. Overall, he’s carrying a disappointing 4.81 ERA with a 65/30 K/BB ratio in 76 2/3 innings.

It is not yet clear how the Phillies plan to fill Eickhoff’s spot in the rotation. Mark Appel, Jake Thompson, and Thomas Eshelman are potential options for promotions to the majors.

Stassi, 27, made the Phillies’ Opening Day roster, but struggled through the first two months, batting .197/.290/.361 in 69 plate appearances. The Phillies optioned him to Double-A Reading earlier this month for a couple games, then moved him to Triple-A Lehigh Valley. That seemed to do the trick, as Stassi hit .325 in 40 combined at-bats.