Following a tough three-game sweep at the hands of the Dodgers, the Philadelphia Phillies came away with a much-needed series win in San Diego.
In game one, a poor performance from Aaron Nola led to a loss and brought the team’s season high losing streak to five games. But an offense led by Jay Bruce carried poor pitching to wins in the latter two games of the series, snapping the losing streak and ending the West Coast trip at 2-4. The Phillies now sit at 35-27 on the season and are a game up on the Atlanta Braves for the division lead.
The Phillies injury trouble continued on the series, as they lost left fielder Andrew McCutchen for the season to a torn ACL in a bizarre first inning play in Monday night’s game. Relief pitcher Seranthony Dominguez left the game in the eighth inning of Wednesday’s game with an elbow injury, with an MRI set for this afternoon. His fate is currently unclear.
Two outfielders made their team debuts for the Phillies on the trip. First, it was newly acquired Jay Bruce, who came in for the injured McCutchen on Monday night and started the last two games of the season. Rookie Adam Haseley made his major league debut on Tuesday after being called up as a replacement for McCutchen in center field. Both made immediate impacts and helped the team to much-needed wins Tuesday and Wednesday.
Three important numbers help to tell the story from the series against San Diego and West Coast trip as a whole defined by poor Phillies pitching and key hitting from the entire lineup:
Seven: Number of home runs allowed by Phillies pitching staff vs. the Padres
Home runs have been a problem for the Phillies all season long. Phillies pitchers have allowed more than any team in the National League, and Phillies hitters have hit more than only the Giants and Pirates. And while the offense showed up big the final two games of the series, the pitching staff continued to struggle with the longball.
All three starters allowed at least one home run in the series, and the total of seven allowed all series pushed the team total to 99. The second worst team in the National League in this area, the Brewers, have allowed only 88.
It’s too late for these struggles to be explained away, with the team’s best starting pitchers heading into the season, Aaron Nola and Jake Arrieta, having allowed 11 and 14 home runs in only 13 starts each. 13 starts into last season, the pair only allowed 10 homers combined. The staff has struggled all season, and those struggles start with the long ball.
16: Number of extra base hits by Phillies hitters
After losing the first game of their Padres series rather non-competitively, the Phillies won the next two games because their offense took over. Led by Jay Bruce, the team scored 16 runs over the final two games of the series. And it wasn’t just Bruce who showed up: Every position player in the lineup for Wednesday’s game had at least one extra base hit in the series, helping the team close an otherwise putrid West Coast trip on a good note.
The moves made by general manager Matt Klentak this offseason were done so to build a deep, dangerous offense. While the lineup has shown this potential, it has disappeared at times and prevented the team from running away with the National League East. More performances like the ones on Tuesday and Wednesday in which everyone in the lineup gets involved will help the Phillies continue to win games, even when the pitching staff struggles.
6.35: Team ERA during road trip
Plagued by inconsistency and injuries, the Phillies pitching staff has struggled of late. This was especially the case during this West Coast trip, in which the team allowed 36 earned runs. A result of struggles from starters – combined with injuries to key members of the rotation and bullpen, which have brought inexperienced young pitchers onto the roster – Phillies pitching was not able to keep opponents off the board at all during these six games.
Winning two games this series was huge for the Phillies considering how they pitched. And with these injuries piling up, they will need young pitchers like J.D. Hammer and Edgar Garcia to step up and typically reliable players like Nola and Arrieta to be, well, reliable.
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