Some managerial moves defy description. Take, for instance, the eighth inning of last night’s Philadelphia Phillies-San Francisco Giants debacle at Oracle Park.
With a runner on first and two outs, Jose Alvarez was on the mound for the Phillies. Arguably the Phillies most productive reliever this season, Alvarez had not surrendered a run since June 28, a span of 14 innings. Inexplicably, manager Gabe Kapler strolled to the mound and summoned Nick Pivetta to face Kevin Pillar, who was scorching-hot offensively.
It was bad enough that, following a wild pitch, Pillar proceeded to scorch a triple to give the Giants a 7-6 lead, but two batters later, Giants closer Will Smith approached the plate for his first-ever plate appearance (the third Giant to do that over the course of eight innings). Unfathomably, Smith lined a two-run single to provide insurance runs. Pivetta (5.36 ERA), the sixth and final Phillies hurler, lasted one third of an inning and was charged with two runs on three hard-hit shots to the outfield.
With the victory, the Giants (59-60) moved to three-and-a-half games out of a Wild Card spot, while the struggling Phillies (60-58) dropped two back. In losing their sixth of their last eight, the Phillies finished a dreadful 2-5 road trip against the Arizona Diamondbacks (1-2) and Giants (1-3), neither of whom figure are most likely to be playing in October. After an off day Monday, the Phillies will return home to face the Chicago Cubs for three and San Diego Padres for three more.
Yet another dismal display in times of clutch cost a Phillies team that seems incapable of reaching their potential. They left an astounding 15 runners on base and were 4-14 with runners in scoring position (which actually isn’t bad, except when you consider runners were left on third base to end the seventh and eighth innings). The Giants? They only left five runners and were a methodical 4-7 in the situations that mattered most.
The Phillies fell behind, 2-0, after one inning, but they responded with five unanswered runs. Roman Quinn (bases loaded walk) and Bryce Harper (two-run single; now with 80 RBIs) made it 3-2 in the second, and Cesar Hernandez delivered a two-run single in the third.
Phillies starter Jake Arrieta, however, could not take advantage of a rare Philadelphia offensive barrage. He surrendered three runs in the third that tied the contest at 5-5, and upon returning to the bullpen, he was told by Kapler that his evening was over.
“He gave us everything he had,” said Kapler, speaking to ESPN’s broadcast crew after the third inning ended. “He didn’t have his best command. He’s always the type of guy that wants to go out and give us as much length as possible . . . [he’s an] an absolute warrior, battler.”
The game was now in the hands of both bullpens with six innings remaining. The Phillies appeared ready to take the early advantage when they loaded the bases with one out in the fourth. J.T. Realmuto, however, swung through a 92 mph fastball for the second out, and Scott Kingery popped up on the next pitch to end the threat.
In the bottom of the sixth, Scooter Gennett blasted a misplaced Ranger Suarez fastball that landed in the San Francisco Bay, which gave the Giants a 6-5 lead. The Phillies loaded the bases with two outs in the seventh, but Tony Watson induced struggling Rhys Hoskins to pop out to first base. Hoskins – who entered the game hitting .145 over his last 15 games before going 0-4 Sunday – finished the road trip a miserable 2-24.
After Mike Morin put the Giants down in order in the seventh, the Phillies tied the game at 6-6 in the eighth. With runners on second and third and one out, Giants sure-to-be Hall of Fame manager Bruce Bochy summoned his lefty closer Will Smith – the eighth Giants pitcher of what had become a personal chess match by the three-time World Series champion mentor. But Corey Dickerson, who has struggled against lefties, lofted a long sacrifice fly to right to score Realmuto. Smith got an easy fly-out by pinch hitter Brad Miller to end the inning, but despite getting two outs, Smith was charged with his third blown save against 28 successes.
Smith, of course, would have revenge both with the bat and the glove against a Phillies squad that appears to be running on fumes with 44 games still to go. As for Alvarez, he took a loss to drop to 3-3, but it is more than justifiable to ask why he wasn’t allowed to face Pillar over Pivetta with the game on the line.
Shibe Vintage Sports Starting Pitching Performance
Phillies – In an outing that can accurately be described as “forgettable,” Jake Arrieta was in trouble early and late. He lasted only three innings and was peppered with five runs on seven hits and a walk while whiffing five. Of his 66 pitches, 40 were for strikes. Arrieta is now 0-2 with five no-decisions and a 5.34 ERA in the 32 innings he has thrown since his last win on June 30.
Giants – Conner Menez started strong with a 1-2-3 first inning. But the Phillies scored three in the second, and Giants manger Bruce Bochy responded with a quick hook. In 1.2 innings, Menez gave up two three earned runs, two hits and three walks, while striking out four over 51 pitches (30 for strikes).
Phillies Nuggets Player of the Game: Will Smith
Even though he technically blew the save, Smith got the Giants out of a major fix in the eighth and then slashed a two-run single in his first-ever plate appearance. Smith’s victory raised his record to 4-0 and lowered his ERA to 2.42.
TicketIQ Next Game
- Tuesday, August 13, 7:05 vs. Chicago Cubs at Citizens Bank Park
- TV: NBC Sports Philadelphia
- Radio: SportsRadio 94 WIP; WTTM 1680 (Spanish)
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