2021 Postgame Recaps

Another questionable decision by Joe Girardi backfires


Final Score: Rays 7, Phillies 4

Joe Girardi decided to leave Zack Wheeler in for the ninth inning and it backfired. (Photo by Rich Graessle/Icon Sportswire)

Joe Girardi likes to say that the hitter’s swing is a tell-tale sign of when a starter is near the end of the line. A pitch before Tampa Bay Rays catcher Francisco Mejía absolutely destroyed a ball into the second deck for a three-run home run to put the game out of reach, the 25-year-old was right on Zack Wheeler’s slider. He drilled it way foul into the upper deck. He did not miss the next one.

The truth was that Wheeler was probably done after eight innings. He’s thrown over 100 pitches in eight of his last 10 starts. Wheeler was at 93 pitches after eight innings and with four runs on the board and seven hits surrendered, it was probably time to let the bullpen pitch the last inning.

“I liked his stuff,” Girardi said after the game when asked why he left Wheeler in the game. “I think his stuff was still good. … He has the ability to get strikeouts. He had done a good job against their catcher all night in expanding the zone on him and having him chase. He just made a mistake.”

There was a lot of good and a lot of bad in tonight’s game. The Phillies got two big home runs from Bryce Harper and Rhys Hoskins. They also had multiple mishaps on defense that gave a good Rays team a few extra outs to work with. Freddy Galvis’ re-introduction did not go smoothly. His first play back was an errant throw. Wheeler was solid through eight. Hoskins played through a good amount of pain. He won’t be in the starting lineup on Thursday.

But the overarching story of this game is that Girardi made the same mistake twice in one week and cost the Phillies a chance to win on Wednesday night. He failed to pull Aaron Nola in the ninth inning of Saturday’s game following a walk to Fernando Tatis Jr. Jake Cronenworth made him pay with a two-run, game-tying home run with two outs. For some reason, Zack Wheeler was still pitching with two runners in scoring position with nobody out in a tie game in the ninth.

The Phillies are now five games back out of first place in the NL East. They have now lost seven-straight games against the Rays dating back to 2020.

They probably won’t play the Rays for another two years in the regular season.

Shibe Vintage Sports Starting Pitching Performance

Ryan Yarbrough: 4 IP, 5 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 2 BB, 0 SO, 55 pitches

Yarbrough was taken out before facing the Phillies lineup a third time, which is common for a Rays starter. He didn’t strike any batters out, but he did allow a couple of runs over four innings. He was visibly frustrated with himself after allowing a lead-off hit to the opposing pitcher Wheeler in the fifth. That gave Harper a chance to drive one deep and get the Phillies back in the game.

Zack Wheeler: 8 IP, 10 H, 7 R, 5 ER, 0 BB, 10 SO, 2 HR, 102 pitches

The Phillies have lost three consecutive starts from their Cy Young candidate for the first time since April. He was excellent for the first eight, but a few mistakes have put a damper on the outing. Wheeler told Girardi that he felt fine before heading out for the ninth inning.

“The one that [Mejía] hit out, I was trying to go up and away,” Wheeler said. “It was up, but it just wasn’t where I wanted it. Sometimes you have to give the guys credit. Stinks to do that, but you have to do it sometimes.”

Phillies Nugget Of The Game

Wheeler became the 14th Phillies pitcher to strikeout 200 batters in a single season when Brett Phillips was set down on strikes for the second time in the sixth inning. His second strikeout of the night set a career high in Ks for a season. His previous high was 195 strikeouts in 2019.

Ticket IQ Next Game

  • Thursday, August 26 vs. Arizona Diamondbacks at Citizens Bank Park
  • 7:05 p.m. ET
  • TV: NBC Sports Philadelphia
  • Radio: SportsRadio 94 WIP

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