Phillies Nation

2021 Postgame Recaps

Bryce Harper homers, but Phillies offense largely silent in loss to Diamondbacks


Bryce Harper homered Tuesday. (Dustin Bradford/Icon Sportswire)

Final score: Diamondbacks 3, Phillies 2

Much of the reason the Phillies have been perceived as a potential favorite in the National League East is their forgiving second-half schedule. The stretch that began Tuesday — in which they will play 27 of 44 games against the six worst teams in the NL and the very worst team in the AL — is where the Phillies are supposed to make up ground.

So far, not so good.

As it turns out, teams won’t win many games with three hits, even if the opponent is a staggering 38-81 on the season. The Phillies’ pitching staff exceeded its slim margin for error, and as a result, the Phillies dropped to 2 1/2 games behind the first place Atlanta Braves.

The Phillies’ offense has been struggling for more than a week now. It entered Tuesday averaging 2 1/2 runs per game since the eight-game winning streak. Bryce Harper has been getting fewer pitches to hit because of it. Opposing pitchers’ strategy has been to simply pitch around the slugger, hope he chases and if not, go after the rest of the Phillies’ lineup instead.

Perhaps that was Taylor Widener’s intent against Harper in the third, but that’s not how it worked out. Widener left a 3-1 fastball in the upper third of the zone with two outs and the bases empty, and Harper did not miss it. His titanic solo home run, which had a launch angle of 37 degrees, landed just left of the pool out in right, giving the Phillies a 1-0 lead:

But despite Harper’s torrid second half, he may not have been the hottest hitter in this game, as Diamondbacks shortstop Josh Rojas entered the evening 10 for his last 17. He struck again with a leadoff single in the first, and again with a leadoff single in the third.

Unsatisfied, Rojas decided extra-base hits are more appealing — as are RBIs. His one-out double in the fifth tied the game two batters after Daulton Varsho led off with a double of his own. Kyle Gibson eventually limited the damage by inducing a 3-6-1 double play featuring some nifty footwork by the right-hander.

Circling back to missed locations, Gibson had himself quite the mistake in the sixth. He hung a 2-2 slider to second baseman Josh VanMeter with two outs and a man on second, and VanMeter deposited it just over the right field wall for a tie-breaking two-run shot. Moral of the story: Two-out walks kill. (As do middle-middle sliders.)

The Phillies didn’t lack opportunities. Jean Segura popped out after a pair of two-out walks in the seventh. Brad Miller doubled in the ninth for the Phillies’ third and final hit of the game, and Travis Jankowski walked to put the tying run on with two outs. The former scored and the latter advanced into scoring position on a wild pitch, but pinch-hitter Alec Bohm couldn’t bring him in, and the Phillies fell.

Shibe Vintage Sports Starting Pitching Performance

Taylor Widener: 5.0 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 3 BB, 5 SO, 68 pitches

The 3-1 meatball to Harper was really the only mistake Widener made, as even two of his three walks (one to Harper, one intentional to bring Gibson up) were forgivable. Ben Davis expressed some qualms on the NBCSP broadcast about Widener’s early exit, and they may have been well-placed. He had thrown 80 pitches in each of his last four starts, but he was lifted for a pinch-hitter following Varsho’s leadoff double in the fifth. (For what it’s worth, that pinch-hitter struck out.) Widener’s ERA dropped to 4.59.

Kyle Gibson: 6.0 IP, 7 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 2 BB, 5 SO, 91 pitches

Perhaps Gibson’s best pitch through 5 2/3 very effective innings was his sinker. Gibson and J.T. Realmuto would start the pitch at lefties’ hands before it tailed back to the inside corner, freezing plenty of Diamondbacks hitters. It seemed as though that pitch would help Gibson keep a quiet Phillies offense tied entering the seventh, but VanMeter had other plans. Gibson’s ill-fated slider missed badly and got punished accordingly — souring his night, the scoreboard and his ERA, now at 3.18. It was technically a quality start, but it could have been a great one.

Phillies Nugget Of The Game

Even Segura, who has been the Phillies’ most consistent hitter this season, is having a rough go at the plate these days. With Tuesday’s 0-for-4, Segura is now 1 for his last 21.

Ticket IQ Next Game

  • Wednesday, August 18 vs. Arizona Diamondbacks at Chase Field
  • 9:40 p.m. ET
  • TV: NBC Sports Philadelphia
  • Radio: SportsRadio 94 WIP

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2 Comments

2 Comments

  1. Martin Bryant

    August 18, 2021 at 10:11 am

    Question: How can you have a team of so many hitters that have average or better major league hitting records, but still come up with so little offense on so many games?
    Answer: I have a theory. It has to do with streaky hitters vs. not-so streaky / consistent players. We call hitters “streaky” because they get “hot” and have back-to-back multi-hit, often multi-base games and then go “cold”. A streak lasts more than a game of course (or it wouldn’t be a strek) – and can last a series or a bit more or a whole cycle of road/home series (10 days or so).

    Here’s the thoery: if you have a number of “streaky” hitters – over the season they start to “get it in sync” – streak up and down together / resonate. Which is bad. This happens both due to psychology and circumstantial reasons (coming back home after road trip, hitting some easier to hit pitching, etc..) that also effect all of the streakers at once. I’m working on a study to prove this, right now it’s a hypothesis. Obviously if your streakers all streak together you waste runs in some games and come up short in too many. The season stats for hitters can be fine; the effect on the win/loss record is not so great.

    How does this effect the Phillies? My theory holds that the Phillies have too many streak hitters and they have unfortuneately “tuned up”. Rhys Hoskins is a great example of a hitter who early in the season his streaks carried the team but has become less relevant as his streaks became aligned with the team’s streaks (or maybe they’ve aligned around him). He’s about to re-enter and we can only hope that sitting out for awhile will cause him to be a disrupter and not jump right back in rhythm. Bohm is an example of a hitter that when there’s a run party goin’ on – he’s so game, but when the team is desperate for a hit – he’s not going to be the guy who delivers.

    Maybe I’m overthinking this – I’ll report back if the data I’m compiling confirms…

  2. Steve

    August 18, 2021 at 12:30 pm

    NEVER be better than an average club
    until consistency takes hold
    In pitching, offense, and defense.
    Sparkplug type players is the answer
    MORE LEADERS not all these FOLLOWERS.
    and PLEASE stop all the silly games
    this is the major’s not little league!

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