Almost non-existent hitting, back-breaking home runs by the opposition, and the obligatory bullpen meltdown cost the Philadelphia Phillies (49-47) a 7-2 setback to the visiting Los Angeles Dodgers (64-34) on Wednesday night (into early Thursday morning) at a rain-soaked Citizens Bank Park.
Actually, once the Phillies displayed their lineup hours before the first pitch, the likelihood of being able to follow the previous night’s breathtaking walk-off win appeared bleak at best.
When your fifth-through-eighth batters “slug” a composite .196 batting average (46 for 235) with six home runs and 17 RBIs, and your starting pitcher (Nick Pivetta) possesses truly poor numbers (5.81 ERA, 1.49 WHIP) and competes against a team that had hit nine home runs over the past 48 hours, it certainly doesn’t make sense to organize a post-game victory party.
Unfortunately, logic prevailed. The Phillies mustered two hits and two unearned runs, and they could do little with six Dodgers walks and two errors.
Five Phillies relievers combined for 6.2 innings pitched, seven hits, two home runs, six of the team’s 10 walks, two hit batsmen and six earned runs.
Throwing the ball all over the place but nowhere near the strike zone, Pivetta looked nothing like the pitcher who, on June 2, blanked the host Dodgers on three hits while striking out nine before the bullpen self-destructed in an 8-0 loss. But after loading the bases on three consecutive one-out walks, the Dodgers managed only a sacrifice fly by A.J. Pollock that scored Max Muncy, who had walked.
In the top of the third, umpires called for the tarp with an approaching thunderstorm. The delay lasted two hours and 37 minutes.
Eventually, the 1-0 game moved to the 6th inning, and in stepped struggling Phillies reliever Edgar Garcia. After getting two outs and facing the bottom of the order, Garcia walked Enrique Hernandez and Russell Martin. Facing relief pitcher Julio Urias, Garcia fell behind, 3-2, before Urias grounded an RBI single to center for a 2-0 Dodgers lead.
The Phillies finally came alive in their half of the 6th. Cesar Hernandez reached first on third baseman Muncy’s second error of the game. Scott Kingery, who appears back in a groove after a difficult stretch (5 for his last 11, five runs scored, two home runs, three RBIs), poked a single to center for the Phillies first hit. Last night’s hero, Bryce Harper, skied to right, and Hernandez hustled to third. Kingery took second on a passed ball, and Rhy Hoskins was intentionally walked to load the bases.
Then, it was Miller time. After laying off a 2-2 pitch just an inch or two high in the zone, Miller drew a walk to break the shutout. Although Miller has engineered an unimpressive career .171 batting average with the sacks loaded, he has now collected 34 RBIs in that situation.
Now facing the Dodgers’ fourth pitcher – Pedro Baez – rookie Adam Haseley found himself in the spotlight. His bouncer to the mound was deflected by Baez and resulted in a game-tying groundout and put runners on second and third.
— Philadelphia Phillies (@Phillies) July 18, 2019
Much-maligned Nick Williams, recently called up from Lehigh Valley’s Triple-A squad after hitting .345 with six home runs, continued his struggles when he struck out on a pitch way outside. Even though Baez was credited with his fourth blown save, he ultimately improved his won-loss mark to 4-2.
Enter Juan Nicasio . . . and exit the Phillies’ momentum. After Muncy singled, right-handed David Freese crushed a two-run home run to the opposite field to re-gain LA’s two-run lead. It was Freese’s ninth of the season and the Dodgers’ 10th of the series. The Dodgers hit yet another blast in the eighth, a two-run rocket to left by pinch hitter Justin Turner, to make it 6-2. As much of the remaining crowd bellowed, “Let’s go, Dodgers,” the guys in blue added their final tally in the ninth. The loss went to Nicasio, now 1-3.
Cloudy with a chance of Freesing rain. pic.twitter.com/NG7HmtNBrq
— Los Angeles Dodgers (@Dodgers) July 18, 2019
Tomorrow afternoon, Phillies ace Aaron Nola (8-2, 3.63) faces RHP Ross Stripling (4-3, 3.65) in hopes of salvaging a split of the four-game series. If the season ended today, the Washington Nationals and Milwaukee Brewers would be the wild-card finalists while the Phillies, St. Louis Cardinals and Arizona Diamondbacks would finish one-half game short.
But unless the Phillies discover a cure for their inept bullpen and develop consistency on offense, anticipating a post-season finish seems less and less realistic.
Shibe Vintage Sports Starting Pitching Performance
Dodgers – Kenta Maeda pitched two innings. In lowering his ERA to 3.75, Maeda walked two and struck out three in 35 pitches.
Phillies – Nick Pivetta (RECORD 5.74 ERA) survived a potentially cataclysmic first inning when he loaded the bases with one out. He eventually only allowed a run, but his pitch count had already reached 29 (12 strikes). He left with a line score of 2.1 innings, no hits, one run, four walks and four strikeouts in 50 pitches and only 27 strikes.
Phillies Nuggets Player of the Game: Julio Urias
The former starting pitcher took over with one on and two out in the third. In 2.2 innings, he allowed two unearned runs thanks to one of two Max Muncy errors at third base. He walked two and struck out three. He also contributed an RBI single in the sixth inning.
TICKET IQ NEXT GAME
Thursday, July 17, 12:35 EDT vs. the Los Angeles Dodgers at Citizens Bank Park
NOTE: THURSDAY GAME only available at: YouTube.com/MLB
Radio: SportsRadio 94 WIP; WTTM 1680 (Spanish)
MORE FROM PHILLIES NATION: