So admittedly, I only really watched Sunday’s loss as I was at a wedding all weekend, but the series as a whole still needs to be discussed.
The Phillies hosted the Toronto Blue Jays over the weekend, dropping Friday night’s contest 6-5, winning Saturday’s game 2-1, and losing the rubber match 5-3 Sunday afternoon. Despite continuing a pattern of alternating wins and losses, the Phillies were able to reach the top of the NL East after Saturday’s win, only to have the Atlanta Braves retake the lead after Sunday’s loss.
Friday night’s loss saw Zach Eflin get shelled by an ice-cold Blue Jay lineup, no thanks to his defense. Toronto got on the board when Pedro Florimon threw away what would have been the third out in the first inning, and back-to-back doubles caused two more runs to come across. Eflin would calm down over the next three innings, but he’d find trouble in the 5th as three more runs would score. Eflin helped his own cause hitting a home run in the third inning, the Phillies’ first hit of the night, but the bats around him wouldn’t wake up until late in the ballgame. The Phils were being one-hit until the bottom of the sixth when Odubel Herrera doubled and Carlos Santana hit a two-run shot to cut the lead to 5-3. The Phillies would plate another in both in the 8th and 9th innings, however, they’d leave runners in scoring position.
Saturday was a more positive note, Nola Day. Aaron Nola was dealing on Saturday afternoon despite the Phillies bats still providing no run support. Nola took a no-hitter into the seventh inning with a one-run lead. After recording two outs, Nola had two Jays on first and second for Russell Martin to drive home the runner at second base. Nola was pulled after another masterful outing. Seranthony Dominguez picked up the gem and continued spinning it for Nola finishing the seventh and shutting the Jays down in the eighth. Nick Williams pinch-hit for Dominguez in the bottom of the eighth and once again, hit an absolute BOMB. Luis Garcia came in and slammed the door shut in the ninth. Series knotted up at 1 game apiece.
Sunday saw the frustrations return. Nick Pivetta pitched well but put himself into a jam in the second inning that Toronto hopped all over. Pivetta walked two batters and moved them both into scoring position after a wild pitch. Trying to right the ship, Pivetta worked Devon Travis into a full count but left a pitch over the middle of the plate and Travis doubled in both runners. Pivetta would be pulled after five but the bullpen didn’t look too much better. Tommy Hunter couldn’t finish out the sixth inning, allowing two more runs. Edubray Ramos and Adam Morgan were better but not the shutdown relievers we’ve seen as of late. The Phillies’ bats were once again caught snoozing, this time to J.A. Happ. Happ gave his former home crowd a show looking nearly unhittable until the sixth inning. The Phillies plated three runs in the sixth, removing Happ in the next inning, but bats went back to sleep. To add insult to injury, Hector Neris came in to hold the deficit at 1 but was taken deep by Curtis Granderson with two outs, putting the game just out of reach.
All things considered, the Phillies are only a half-game out of the division lead on Memorial Day. I’ve said it before but the Phils being in this position is tremendous! We knew the team would be better than last year, it seemed the wild card was going to the pitching staff. Well, that’s not the case. I couldn’t be happier with the starters all season and how the bullpen has come into its own in May, Hector Neris aside.
What is so frustrating has been the bats! Rhys and May aren’t mixing, Franco has reverted to inconsistency, the bottom half of the lineup is hit or miss, and the team can’t string together a few hits in a row consistently. All of these are likely temporary and are certainly fixable. Rhys will return and the haters will return to loving him. Franco is still showing signs of the clutch hitter we saw to start 2018–he’s still second on the team in RBIs. With those guys finding their way, Santana continuing to be an extra-base hit machine, and Odubel and Cesar getting on base practically every game, the Phillies bats can live up to the potential we thought they had coming into the season. I’m not worried the bottom is going to fall out, I’m more frustrated that the Phils aren’t hitting that potential just yet when the pitching has been outstanding.
The Phillies head west to begin a four-game set with the Dodgers. The first game will be tonight at 8:10 ET with Vince Velasquez taking on 26-year-old righty Brock Stewart who will be making his second start of the season. Stewart’s first start was last Tuesday against the Rockies where he allowed two runs, five hits, one walk, one strikeout, and one homer over four innings.Follow @geordo9