The Phillies fell to the Nationals this afternoon 4-1, in a game where they tried too hard, and yet by trying too hard they somehow didn't try hard enough.
They all came out swinging early and often against Nats starter Stephen Strasburg. As a result, Strasburg needed just 32 pitches to get through the first four innings. The fourth inning was the first one where he needed more than 9 pitches to get three outs. The Phillies swung a lot. They were determined to swing, even though many many at-bats ended with them getting themselves out after just one or two pitches. It didn't matter that it wasn't working, they were going to do it no matter what. And therein lies the anti-genius of Ryne Sandberg. Just because it isn't working doesn't mean it shouldn't be tried until it does work, no matter how long it takes or how stupid he looks. It's the Ryne Sandberg way.
For all that swinging, the game was scoreless until the fifth inning, when Phillies starter David Buchanan allowed the first run(s) of the game on three straight hits after getting the first two outs of the inning. Denard Span singled and then scored when Ian Desmond doubled. Jayson Werth hit a ball up the middle which Odubel Herrera launched back toward home plate. Well, you can assume it was home plate, but he mostly looked like he was just throwing blindly forward. So of course he completely missed the cutoff man and Chooch had to scramble to go get it, and Desmond scored. Then Ryan Zimmerman laced a ball right out of Jeff Francoeur's reach, and Werth scored. All of a sudden, the Phillies were in a 3-0 hole. The Nationals would add another run in the seventh inning on a walk, a groundout, and a Zimmerman single. This seems like a good time to point out that coming into today, Ryan Zimmerman is hitting .156. If you just watched him play against the Phillies, you'd think he was doing much better overall. You'd be wrong.
David Buchanan’s third start of the season: 5 IP, 6 H, 3 R, 3 BB (1 BB), 4 SO. He threw 98 pitches, 63 strikes.— Jake Kaplan (@jakemkaplan) April 19, 2015
Let's focus on the positive and say that this is an improvement over his first two starts. He went five innings and gave up just three runs. If the alternative is going fewer innings and giving up more runs, I'd say this is OK. Not great or ideal, but serviceable. Most teams can surmount three runs. Most teams.
The Phillies scored one run in the eighth inning on a double and a single from the top of the lineup, AKA Odubel Herrera and Freddy Galvis. But they'd had another chance to score earlier in the game, in the sixth inning. Galvis battled Strasburg in a 10-pitch at-bat, and Cody Asche scorched a single under Zimmerman's glove and Freddy took off for third. But their chance to score was over when Jeff Francoeur, well, existed. He came to the plate and swung at the very first pitch, popping it up to end the inning. The only way to stop Francoeur from doing that very thing he did would be to go back in time and stop him from existing, because Jeff Francoeur was born to do that. The entire concept of Francoeur is hilarious to me, because his personality, his grittiness, it's exactly what so many managers love, and he's exactly what the game does not need.
Scott & Larry's Yuk Yuk Theater
On today's episode, Scott Franzke and Larry Anderson were discussing Vin Scully's 65th anniversary as a broadcaster.
Larry Anderson: "Are you gonna pass him?"
Scott Franzke: "[pause] On the highway, maybe."
Heyo! Yuk yuk yuk, that's a good one, Scott! That's all for today and thanks for tuning into Scott & Larry's Yuk Yuk Theater!
The Phillies head back home and enjoy a much needed off-day tomorrow. They play the Miami Marlins for the first time on Tuesday, which at the very least means I get three games of watching Giancarlo Stanton.