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The Phillies haven’t scored first in a game since May 20

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Things are not going well for the Phillies. Things haven’t been going well all year, but the Phillies’ last month in particular has been one long nightmare. Heralded cornerstones Odubel Herrera and Maikel Franco have been abysmal at the plate. Veteran additions like Michael Saunders and Clay Buchholz haven’t worked. Young pitchers Jerad Eickhoff, Vince Velasquez, and Aaron Nola have been inconsistent at best. The bullpen has been largely unreliable.

It’s no shock, then, that the Phillies entered Wednesday afternoon’s action with baseball’s worst record at 17-33. Wednesday’s 10-2 loss to the Marlins gives them exactly twice as many losses as wins, an ignominious feat. The Phillies’ -58 run differential doesn’t offer any hope, only putting them a couple of wins better than they have been.

How bad have things been? The Phillies have held the lead exactly five times in their last 12 games spanning 110 innings. They haven’t scored first in a game since May 20, when they visited the Pirates.

  • May 31 @ MIA: Fell behind 3-0 after the first inning (lost 10-2; never led)
  • May 30 @ MIA: Fell behind 2-0 after the second inning (lost 7-2; never led)
  • May 29 @ MIA: Fell behind 2-0 after the third inning (lost 4-1; never led)
  • May 28 vs. CIN: Fell behind 1-0 after the first inning (lost 8-4; led 4-2 until the third inning)
  • May 27 vs. CIN: Fell behind 2-0 after the first inning (won 4-3, walkoff; led 3-2 until the sixth inning)
  • May 26 vs. CIN: Fell behind 2-0 after the first inning (lost 5-2; never led)
  • May 25 vs. COL: Fell behind 1-0 after the fourth inning (won 2-1, walkoff; never led until 11th)
  • May 24 vs. COL: Fell behind 7-0 after the third inning (lost 7-2; never led)
  • May 23 vs. COL: Fell behind 2-0 after the third inning (lost 8-2; never led)
  • May 22 vs. COL: Fell behind 3-0 after the third inning (lost 8-1; never led)
  • May 21 @ PIT: Fell behind 1-0 after the sixth inning (lost 1-0; never led)
  • May 20 @ PIT: Went ahead 1-0 after the first inning (lost 6-3; led 1-0 until the third inning)

On the bright side, the rebuilding Phillies weren’t expected to be competitive this season, and finishing with baseball’s worst record will net them the first overall pick in the 2018 amateur draft. But Phillies fans are growing impatient. While the fans may not have been expecting to watch a winner, they did expect to see somewhat competent baseball and the Phillies have provided very little of that, particularly in the month of May. The Phillies closed out the month of May with a 6-22 record after an 11-12 April.

Justin Verlander laughed at after saying Astros were “technologically and analytically advanced”

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Justin Verlander was at the annual Baseball Writers Association of America banquet last night, on hand to accept the 2019 Cy Young Award. Normally such things are pretty routine events, but nothing is routine with the Houston Astros these days.

During his acceptance speech, Verlander made some comments about the Astros’ “technological and analytical advancements.” The comments were greeted by some laughter in the room as well as some groans. At least one person on hand claimed that other players present were visibly angry.

It’s hard to tell the context of it all without a full video — maybe Verlander meant it as a joke, maybe the reactions were more varied than is being described — but here’s how reporters on hand for it last night are describing it:

If it was a joke it was ill-timed, as not many around the game think the sign-stealing stuff is funny at the moment. Especially in light of the fact that, despite having several opportunities to do so, Astros players have failed to show any accountability for their cheating.

And yes, that includes former Astros Dallas Keuchel, who was praised for “apologizing” at a White Sox fan event on Friday, but whose “apology” was couched in a lot of deflection and excuse-making about how it was just something that was done at the time and about how technology was to blame. Keuchel also tried to minimize it, saying that the Astros didn’t do it all the time. Which is rich given that the most prominent video evidence of their trash can-banging scheme came from a blowout Astros win in a meaningless August game against a losing team. If they were doing it in that situation, please, do not tell me they weren’t doing it when games really mattered.

Anyway, I’d like to think Verlander was just trying to take a stab at a joke here, because Verlander is the wrong guy to be sending to be sending any kind of messages diminishing the cheating given that he has a pretty solid track record of holding other players’ feet to the fire when they get busted.

For example, here he was in 2018 after Robinson Canó got busted for PEDs:

Of course, consistency can be a problem for Verlander when his teammates are on the ones who are on the hook. Here was his response to Tigers infielder Jhonny Peralta being suspended in the wake of the Biogenesis scandal:

“Everybody makes mistakes. He’s my brother. We fight and bleed and sweat together on the baseball field. If my brother makes a mistake, especially if he owns up to it and serves his time, I don’t see how you can hold a grudge or anything like that. “It’s one thing to step up and be a man and own up to his mistake.”

Verlander, it should also be noted, was very outspoken about teams engaging in advanced sign-stealing schemes once upon a time. here he was in 2017, while still with the Tigers, talking about such things in a June 2017 interview with MLive.com.

“We don’t have somebody, but I’m sure teams have a person that can break down signals and codes and they’ll have the signs before you even get out there on the mound.  It’s not about gamesmanship anymore. It used to be, ‘Hey, if you can get my signs, good for you.’ In the past, if a guy on second (base) was able to decipher it on a few pitches, I guess that was kind of part of the game. I think it’s a different level now. It’s not good.”

Which makes me wonder how he felt when he landed on the Astros two months later and realized they had a sophisticated cheating operation underway. If the feelings were mixed, he was able to bury the part of them which had a problem with it, because he’s said jack about it since this all blew up in November. And, of course, has happily accepted the accolades and the hardware he he has received since joining Houston, some of which was no doubt acquired by virtue of a little extra, ill-gotten run support.

Anyway, wake me up when someone — anyone — associated with the Astros shows some genuine accountability about this.