Phillies Fall to Braves 3-1 on Fielding Blunders

Another Brandon McCarthy start against Vince Velasquez, another Brandon McCarthy win against Vince Velasquez. The Braves defeated the Phillies tonight 3-1 in another game of missed opportunities, on both sides. The Phillies went 2 for 6 with runners in scoring position (RISP) and 7 total runners left on base (LOB). Atlanta 3 for 10 with RISP and 9 total runners LOB–including leaving the bases loaded in the fourth inning.

In fact, both teams’ offenses ran through their respectively lead-off spots. Ozzie Albies scored all three runs for the Braves batting 2-4 with the game’s lone home run (his NL-2nd-best 14th in 2018) and a walk. The Phillies lone run came in the fifth inning when Cesar Hernandez knocked in Maikel Franco–Hernandez’s only hit of the game which extended his on-base streak to 26 games.

The story of the game returns to the rival starters, their fourth matchup in 2018. Brandon McCarthy (5-2) pitched 5.2 innings, allowing the one Phillie run, four hits, two walks, and striking out five. Vince Velazquez (4-5) pitched 4.1 innings, allowing two runs (one earned), six hits, three walks, and striking out nine. McCarthy clearly was better tonight and the Phillies couldn’t shake him out of his comfort zone. Despite this, Velasquez wasn’t too much worse. The hard-throwing righty showed a lot of composure battling through each inning, especially the aforementioned fourth. Velasquez loaded the bases with no outs and rebounded by striking out the next three Atlanta batters.

The fifth inning proved to be too much, however. With Albies on first base and one out, Freddie Freeman singled to right field. Phillies RF Nick Williams slipped on his approach to the ball, saw Albies rounding second for third and slipped again as he threw to third base, air-mailing both 3B Maikel Franco and the backing-up Velasquez. Error #1 of the inning. The next batter, Nick Markakis, immediately grounded to 1B Carlos Santana and Santana threw home without hesitation but because of his haste, Santana overthrew the catcher Jorge Alfaro and Freddie Freman moved to third. Error #2 of the inning. At 89 pitches and in another jam, Gabe Kapler brought in Victor Arano as a fresh arm and Arano shutdown the inning quickly.

To be fair to Carlos Santana on the second error, the lightning-fast Albies was basically halfway down the third-base line by the time the ball was hit thanks to an aggressive secondary lead. I am being results oriented here on not being so hard on Santana since Arano held Freeman at third but back-to-back errors is still unacceptable.

It’s still remarkable to me that the Phils pitching staff has been able to step up in these relatively higher-pressure situations. Phillies play-by-play announcer Tom McCarthy commented at one point that the deficit felt much larger than the one-run deficit it actually was at the time. Granted, the Phillies still lost. However, both Velasquez and the bullpen would have likely been shelled in those situations even just a month ago and had these moments of pitching clutch tonight. Progress!

The rubber match in this three-game series will be played tomorrow night at 7pm at Citizens Bank Park. Jake Arrieta will face Luiz Gohara who will be making his first start of the year.

What did you think of the game? Let me know your thoughts in the comments!

(cover photo via)

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