Friday night frights: More bad baseball for Phillies at Citizens Bank Park

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Even in a rebuild, the baseball matters. And right now, the baseball is pretty bad at Citizens Bank Park. Even for a rebuilding team that was expected to be, well, bad.
 
The Phillies lost for the 21st time in the last 27 games when the Arizona Diamondbacks came into town wearing their hideous uniforms and clouted six home runs en route to a 10-2 win Friday night (see Instant Replay).
 
The freefalling Phils are now eight games under .500 and they have been held to two or fewer runs in 27 of their 68 games.
 
Most recent, the team’s pitching has given up 11 home runs the last two nights and the defense has committed seven errors, including three on Friday night.
 
“There’s no way to sugarcoat that,” manager Pete Mackanin said. “Eleven home runs and seven errors. It’s not good.”
 
The Phillies have lost four straight games by a combined score of 41-9. They have been out-homered 17-2 by Toronto and Arizona in those games.
 
“We’re just making a lot of bad pitches over the middle of the plate and up in the zone and these teams are capitalizing on it," Mackanin said. 
 
“We were a good team for two months. By that I mean we were making pitches, getting clutch hits and playing solid defense. Right now we’re not doing any of that.”
 
Starting pitcher Adam Morgan was hit hard. He gave up three home runs in taking the loss. He was let down by his defense, especially second baseman Cesar Hernandez, who made two errors in the second inning that led to runs.
 
Morgan, 1-6 with a 6.49 ERA in 10 starts, did not blame his defense.
 
“That’s no excuse for how the game went,” he said.
 
Morgan did strike out eight batters in 4 1/3 innings, so the stuff was there. Location was his problem.
 
“The whole game, he was up in the zone,” Mackanin said. “He just made too many bad pitches. He needs to keep the ball down. When he tried to come in he didn’t get it in enough and he got burnt. He hasn’t been pitching well lately.”
 
Nobody has really been playing well. The Phillies are in a team-wide funk. Even steady Aaron Nola has struggled lately. As for Maikel Franco, he’s been struggling for weeks to find consistency at the plate. He swung wildly, like a hitter with no clue, in striking out twice Friday night. Franco is the guy in the Phillies’ lineup that can really hurt another team and opposing pitchers know that. He gets a lot of pitches outside the strike zone and helps opposing pitchers by swinging at them. Pressing? Yes. Trying to do too much? Yes. Lost? Yeah, that, too.
 
“They’re getting in their own heads,” Mackanin said. “Look at Maikel Franco. He’s not the same hitter. He’s frustrated, swinging at everything.”
 
In an effort to take pressure off Franco, Mackanin said he would probably drop his third baseman in the batting order Saturday.
 
Will that help Franco? Time will tell. Mackanin tried a team meeting after Thursday night’s 13-2 loss to Toronto and all it produced was another eyesore of a ballgame.
 
“So much for my team meeting,” Mackanin said. “It didn’t do a lot.”
 
Despite the losses, Mackanin is staying patient with the team. He has to. This is a mostly young, rebuilding club and everyone knew lumps were going to be taken. Upper management is not going to compromise the rebuild to bring in a player or two that will help grind out a few more wins. They are staying the course. So what you see is what you get, at least until in-house prospects are ready to come to the majors.
 
“We need to keep working with these guys, keep their heads up and keep pushing them,” Mackanin said. “That’s the only thing I can think of doing.”
 
General manager Matt Klentak is exercising patience with the club. He made that clear when he was asked before the game if he was alarmed by the team’s recent spate of poor play.
 
“Not especially,” he said. “We play 162 games for a reason. We know that we’re going to have our ups and we’re going to have our downs, and that’s going to be true of every team. Obviously the last few weeks have been tougher than the first few weeks of the year, but I think we’ll come out of it and hopefully we’ll get it going tonight.”
 
Six Arizona home runs later …

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