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What’s on Tap: Previewing Monday’s action

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As usual, we have an abbreviated schedule on Monday: nine evening games and one afternoon game. That afternoon game was at Citizens Bank Park, as the Phillies are hosting the Diamondbacks in the finale of a four-game series. The woebegone Phillies lost again, 3-1, suffering a series sweep and their seventh consecutive loss, dropping their record to 30-41. The offense has been held to two or fewer runs in six consecutive games.

On May 14, the Phillies were 22-15 and the roster seemed to gel much quicker than anticipated. The starting pitching was great, the back end of the bullpen was reliable, and the offense was able to churn out four runs a game on a regular basis. Since then, the Phillies are 8-26 (.235) with a staff ERA of 4.93 and an aggregate battling line of .219/.269/.355. In fact, the Phillies entered Monday’s game with a team on-base percentage of .279, easily the worst in the league. As Matt Gelb of the Philadelphia Inquirer notes, the only team to post a worse on-base percentage were the 112-loss Mets of 1965.

That the Phillies are bad isn’t a startling fact. They were expected to challenge the Braves for the honor of finishing with baseball’s worst record this season. They’re now only six games “ahead” of the Braves with 91 games left in the season. FanGraphs projects the Phillies to be the worst team in baseball the rest of the way, at 36-56, but only a half-game ahead of the Braves, so they may not repeat the honor of picking first in the draft next season. Still, a protected top-10 pick would be great, setting the team up well for the future.

As a Phillies fan, it’s tough to watch the team right now, but this is who they were all along. They were never as good as they appeared in the first month and a half of the season.

The rest of Monday’s action…

San Francisco Giants (Madison Bumgarner) @ Pittsburgh Pirates (Jeff Locke), 7:05 PM EDT

Chicago White Sox (Miguel Gonzalez) @ Boston Red Sox (Steven Wright), 7:10 PM EDT

Colorado Rockies (Jorge De La Rosa) @ Miami Marlins (Paul Clemens), 7:10 PM EDT

Seattle Mariners (Nathan Karns) @ Detroit Tigers (Mike Pelfrey), 7:10 PM EDT

Tampa Bay Rays (Drew Smyly) @ Cleveland Indians (Josh Tomlin), 7:10 PM EDT

Baltimore Orioles (Kevin Gausman) @ Texas Rangers (Derek Holland), 8:05 PM EDT

St. Louis Cardinals (Jaime Garcia) @ Chicago Cubs (John Lackey), 8:05 PM EDT

Los Angeles Angels (Jhoulys Chacin) @ Houston Astros (Doug Fister), 8:10 PM EDT

Washington Nationals (Yusmeiro Petit) @ Los Angeles Dodgers (Clayton Kershaw), 10:10 PM EDT [Note]

On a night full of letdowns, Yankees’ defense let them down the most

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Game 4 of the ALCS was a gigantic letdown for the Yankees for myriad reasons. They lost, first and foremost, 8-3 to the Astros to fall behind three games to one. Their fans continued to act boorishly. CC Sabathia exited with an injury, likely the final time he’ll pitch in his career. The offense went 0-for-7 with runners in scoring position.

The biggest letdown of the night, though, was the Yankees’ defense. They committed four errors, their highest total in a postseason game since committing five errors in Game 2 of the 1976 ALCS.

Make no mistake: the two three-run home runs hit by George Springer and Carlos Correa, given up by Masahiro and Chad Green respectively, were the big blows in the game. But the errors contributed to the loss and were downright demoralizing.

The first error came at the start of the top of the sixth inning, when Alex Bregman hit a cue shot to first baseman DJ LeMahieu. LeMahieu couldn’t read the bounce and the ball clanked off of his knee, allowing Bregman to reach safely. He would score later in the inning on Correa’s blast.

The Yankees committed two errors in the top of the eighth, leading to a run. Yuli Gurriel hit another grounder to LeMahieu, which he couldn’t handle. That not only allowed Gurriel to reach safely, but Bregman — who led off with a double — moved to third base. He would score when second baseman Gleyber Torres couldn’t handle a Yordan Álvarez grounder.

Error number four occurred when Altuve hit a grounder to Torres to lead off the top of the ninth. The ball skipped right under his glove. Facing Michael Brantley, Jonathan Loaisiga uncorked a wild pitch which advanced Altuve to second base. Brantley followed up with a line drive single to left field, plating Altuve for another run. Loaisiga would throw another wild pitch facing Bregman but that one didn’t come back to haunt him.

The Yankees can’t control injuries, the behavior of their fans, or how good the Astros’ pitching is on any given night. They can control the quality of their defense. On Thursday, it was a farce, and now they’re staring down the barrel of having to win three consecutive games against the Astros to stave off elimination.