SAN FRANCISCO – This Phillies season continues to spiral downward with a new low point seemingly occurring every other day.
If they’re not getting one-hit, they’re losing with late bullpen implosions and poor outings from the starting pitchers.
The Phillies lost again Sunday night, 9-6, when the San Francisco Giants rallied for three runs in the bottom of the eighth inning.
The brutal loss wrapped up a 2-5 road trip for the Phillies, who have gone 27-34 since the start of June to fall from first place in the NL East to fourth.
Things have gone so badly for the Phillies lately that you have to wonder if the front office will use the opportunity of an off day on Monday to shake some things up with possibly a coaching change or a personnel move.
Just something maybe to keep an eye on. The situation seems ripe. The Phils are two games out of the NL wild-card chase, trailing two teams. There are 44 games left and as bad as things have been, manager Gabe Kapler is still full of fight.
“It was a tough trip, a disappointing trip,” Kapler said moments after Sunday’s night’s nationally televised defeat. “We didn’t execute enough on offense or on the mound and now we go back home. We know we’re in the hunt and we have to continue to fight. What we have control over is how we respond to getting knocked down and this road trip was definitely that. We will get up and we will get up strong.”
The Phillies might be getting up without Jake Arrieta. He blew a 5-2 lead in the third inning and was out of the game after that. It was his shortest start in the six that he’s made since disclosing he was pitching with a bone spur in his elbow. He gave up seven hits and five runs in his three painful innings of work.
“Yeah, it hurts every day,” Arrieta said afterward. “Today, I lacked the ability to throw any off-speed stuff with effectiveness and they made me pay for it.
“The offense put up enough runs to win the game. I just wasn’t able to get through my share of the outing and preserve the lead.”
After his previous starts, Arrieta had always been adamant that he wants to keep pitching with the bone spur. He plans corrective surgery in the offseason.
But after this one, he hedged when asked if he would keep pitching.
“I don’t necessarily want to make a decision right now,” he said. “We’ll have the off day Monday and maybe have a conversation on Tuesday.”
The Phils lost two of three in Arizona and three of four in San Francisco. The Giants won in a one-hitter on Thursday and a three-hitter on Saturday.
“They took care of business against us, really,” Arrieta said.
The Phillies had 10 hits in Sunday night’s game and they scored six runs, usually a good sign as they were 52-15 when scoring more than four runs. But the Phils stranded 15 runners on base and left the bases loaded twice, including in the seventh when Rhys Hoskins (2 for 24, 0 RBIs on the trip) popped out with two outs.
“Rhys has been our most consistent hitter all year, hovering around a .900 OPS,” Kapler said. “He has been very clutch the last couple of years. He’s not having a lot of luck right now and it’s frustrating for him. But I want him up there in every big situation.”
The Phils tied the game at 6-6 in the top of the eighth. Lefty Jose Alvarez allowed a leadoff hit in the bottom of the inning then got two outs. Kapler went to righty Nick Pivetta for righty-hitting Kevin Pillar. The Phils chose not to walk Pillar for struggling Brandon Crawford because Pivetta-Pillar was the matchup they wanted. Pivetta threw a wild pitch then gave up a tie-breaking triple to right-center on a 3-1 pitch. After an intentional walk to Crawford (and a stolen base), Pivetta gave up a two-run single to the opposing relief pitcher, Will Smith. It was the first at-bat of Smith’s seven-year career and it was a symbolic haymaker to the Phillies’ chin.
“Pillar has chased quite a bit recently,” Kapler said. “He’s chased up out of the zone and below the zone. We had that matchup tailor-made. It was the matchup we looked for. We talked about it before the inning. We were going to set up Pivetta for fastballs up and out, hammers down. We weren’t able to execute.”
That was a common refrain on the trip.
What will Monday’s off day bring?
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