Phillies News

Phillies see win streak come to an end as offense goes flat

The Reds ended the Phillies seven-game win steak following Tuesday night's 8-1 loss.

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CINCINNATI – The Phillies seven-game winning streak didn’t just end Tuesday night at Great American Ball Park. It skidded off the road, plowed through a row of trash cans, knocked over a fire hydrant and rolled over three times before crashing into a ditch.

What went wrong in the unsightly 8-1 loss to the Reds? Everything, everywhere, all at once. Which, come to think of it, would be a great title for a movie.

“We were due for one of those,” said manager Rob Thomson, stoic as always. “There were some things that were unfortunate. But we’ll move on.”

With lefthander Andrew Abbott on the mound for Cincinnati and first baseman Bryce Harper still away on paternity leave, Thomson packed his lineup with righthanded hitters. Since the 24-year-old Abbott’s L-R OPS splits were .484/.791 for his career and .438/.742 for the season, it made sense that DH Kyle Schwarber was the only lefty who started against him.

That had the added benefit of giving second baseman Bryson Stott and leftfielder Brandon Marsh a break while getting some much-needed playing time for Cristian Pache, Edmundo Sosa and Whit Merrifield.

On paper, it made a lot of sense.

On dirt and grass, it didn’t go anything like the plan.

Didn’t go as planned because Cristopher Sanchez turned in his shortest, least effective outing of the year.

He turned in his shortest, least effective outing in part because the alignment designed to optimize the offense meant fielding a significantly lesser defense than that to which the Phillies have recently become accustomed.

And, in a final cruel irony, all those righthanded hitters weren’t able to do much against Abbott.

The whole mishegas started with the first Reds batter. Stuart Fairchild, hit a grounder to third. Before the game, Thomson had talked about how much Alec Bohm had improved defensively at the hot corner. But Bohm was at first base Tuesday night so Sosa could play third. And Sosa muffed it.

That led to an unearned run that tied the score after the Phillies had taken a lead in the top of the first on back-to-back two-out doubles by J.T. Realmuto and Bohm.

Sanchez was charged with four more runs in the third, just one earned. The Phillies made two more errors by players either out of position (Bohm) or getting rare opportunity to play at all (Pache).

“We certainly didn’t help him on defense,” Thomson said, noting that Pache’s error came on a strong, accurate throw to the plate that bounced off the runner sliding home.

No, none of that helped Sanchez. But he didn’t help himself much, either. He gave up eight baserunners in three innings on five hits and three walks. He threw two wild pitches. And even beyond that he appeared uncomfortable, tentative on the mound. Even, at times, reluctant to throw to the plate, repeatedly throwing to first instead. In just three innings his pitch count was 74.

Sanchez rejected the notion that he was uncomfortable. Sort of. “I don’t like to bring up excuses. Everything was OK,” he said through interpreter Diego A’Aniello. “I come in here and give the best of myself. Sometimes things play out and sometimes they don’t, but that’s part of the game.”

He did admit that he didn’t have a great feel for his changeup. “When that happens, it’s very difficult for me,” he said.

One of the reasons the 27-year-old lefthander was successful after being called up last season was that he threw strikes, walking just 1.4 batters per nine innings. It’s early yet but right now that number has jumped to 4.1.

The Phillies might have been able to overcome even all of that, simply outslugged all their various missteps. This is, after all, an offense that had scored seven or more runs in each of its previous five games.

That box was also left unchecked. After that first inning run, Abbott didn’t allow another runner past first before walking the bases full with nobody out in the fifth and the top of the Phillies order coming up.

Reds manager David Bell left Abbott in just long enough to strike out Schwarber before bringing in righthander Fernando Cruz to get the final two outs and strand all three runners.

“We could have gotten back into the game right there,” Thomson said.

But on a night when everything that had been going so well for the Phillies – pitching, hitting, defense – turned sour, that didn’t happen, either. The only silver lining was that the bullpen, which had been largely sidelined as the starters were pitching deep into games, got an opportunity to get some work.

Which didn’t really make anybody in the clubhouse feel much better about everything else that happened.

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