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The height of ineptitude: Orioles 19, Phillies 3

Even Jeff Francoeur's glorious appearance on a Major League mound brought frustration and anger in this disaster of a baseball game.

Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

Where do you start?

The Phillies lost to the Orioles in Baltimore 19-3. They gave up eight home runs. The Orioles scored in every inning but one. And the Phils lost all nine games on a road trip, the first time they'd lost every game on a road trip of at least eight games long since their inaugural season in 1883.

But more than the bludgeoning at the hands of the O's, who the Phillies will see twice more when they get back to Philadelphia to complete the home-and-home series, was the absolute craziness of the final two innings that, quite frankly, are hard to put into words.

You see, Jeff Francoeur pitched. And for a while there, it was a lot of fun.

In the 7th inning, Frenchy came out dealing, striking out Nolan Reimold on three pitches. Then he got Chris Parmelee to ground out to first, covering the bag himself for the 3-1 put-out himself. Lastly, he shattered Steve Pearce's bat on a soft liner to third, ending the inning.

He became the only Phils pitcher of the evening to throw a scoreless inning. It was magical.

So you can imagine the joy everyone felt when, after an economical 7th inning, manager Ryne Sandberg sent Francoeur out there for another inning. After suffering through one of the worst losses in recent memory, at least the end of this game was going to be fun.

But as it turns out, the Phillies, specifically Sandberg and pitching coach Bob McClure, found a way to screw this thing up and embarrass themselves.

Francoeur gave up a lead-off home run to Ryan Flaherty and then hit the next batter with his very next pitch. Francoeur would continue to labor throughout the inning, walking two more batters to load the bases with one out. As his pitch count neared 50, it seemed obvious to everyone watching he was done.

Everyone but Sandberg and McClure, anyway. As it turns out, someone left the bullpen phone off the hook, and the dugout was apparently unable to get someone up warm up.

As McClure came out to the mound to stall, Chase Utley took it upon himself to show his obvious frustration with McClure and Sandberg for leaving Francoeur out on the mound to potentially injure and/or embarrass himself.

One wonders if Utley's righteous display of anger at McClure, and Sandberg by proxy, is enough to influence the decision makers that changes need to be made. One wonders if it's enough to convince Utley to decide he doesn't want to be here anymore.

If ever a manager was going to get fired after a mid-season baseball game, this is it. If it doesn't happen tomorrow, it ain't never going to happen.

Eventually, Francoeur got himself out of the inning after giving up the final two runs of the game, with an insane total of 48 pitches thrown. That's a lot for a full-time reliever, and an irresponsible number for a position player who only occasionally pitched last year while in Triple-A.

It was supposed to be a fun thing, and the Phils turned into a circus.

The game leading up to all this was a circus too. With the team trying to avoid going winless on their nine-game road trip, starter Jerome Williams put them in a 6-0 first inning hole. He left with only two outs in the first after injuring his groin covering home on a wild pitch. His ERA rose to 6.43.

Dustin McGowan relieved him and proceeded to give up five home runs in 3 1/3 innings, pushing his ERA up to 6.94. Justin De Fratus, pitched an inning and gave up two runs with a homer before intentionally throwing at an Orioles batter and getting thrown out of the game.

Offensively, the Phils didn't do much, although they did end their scoreless innings streak at 24 with a Domonic Brown RBI single, and Maikel Franco ended a mini-drought with a two-run homer in the 6th inning, his seventh of the year.

But that was it. And now the Phillies head back to Philadelphia for two more games with this same Baltimore team, after the worst road trip in franchise history and a public spat between one of the team's iconic leaders and its pitching coach.

We keep saying they've hit rock bottom, but the Phils seem to find a way to top it not long afterwards.

It's hard to imagine, though, how they top this.