Since the All-Star break, the Phillies have scored runs at an uncharacteristic rate, but tonight they featured their more typical, and frankly, expected, offensive futility.
Adam Morgan, since joining the Phillies rotation in late June has basically been what everyone, or at least I, thought David Buchanan would be for the Phillies: A prototypical fifth-starter type who doesn't strike a lot of guys out, so lives and dies by the BABIP gods. Some nights very few of the balls he allows to enter play will result in hits and runs; on others, seemingly all of them will. Tonight offered a glimpse of both sides of that fifth-starter coin.
For the first three innings, Morgan's coin flips kept coming up tails--presuming he called heads--as he gave up three runs. In the second, a fastball got a little too much of the plate and Khris Davis took it for a solo home run to right-center. In the third, Hernan Perez led off with a double and scored on a Jean Segura single.
But it was with the next batter, Jonathan Lucroy, that the pseudo-randomness of what happens when a baseball is put into play. With Segura on second, Lucroy hit a relatively harmless-looking flyable to right-center that both Odubel Herrera and Dom Brown went after. Herrera made the catch, but fell over the body of Dom Brown soon after. Despite a valiant recovery effort and a beautiful relay from Freddy Galvis, Jean Segura was able to score from second on the sacrifice fly and defensive mishap. The video is not currently embeddable, but the link is here. Better yet, a GIF is here:
That was all the damage the baseball gods would inflict upon Adam Morgan tonight. Morgan lasted 3.1 more innings after that play and retired all 10 of the remaining Brewers he faced on 6 grounders, 2 pop-ups, and 2 fly-outs. A final line of 6 IP, 3 R, 3 H, 1 K is all you can ask for from a pitcher like Adam Morgan.
Unfortunately for the Phillies and Adam Morgan, those three runs the baseball gods delivered to the Brewers early on were more than enough to win this game. Despite getting on base 12 times (9 hits, 3 walks) the Phillies were unable to manage a run until Chase Utley knocked his batting stance protege Cody Asche with two outs in the ninth.
The Phillies were 1-for-13 with runners in scoring position tonight, which was as frustrating to watch as it is to read/write.
A part of me wants to argue that that frustration was all worth it for the performance we saw from Chase Utley tonight. He went 4-for-5--his first 4-hit game since May 12, 2013--and showcased the fun Utley base-running we've all come to love during his Phillies career. He stretched a single into a double in the 3rd inning and would have done the same in the 7th if not for an amazing recovery and throw from Ryan Braun.
Utley is hitting .500 (11-for-22) since the All-Star break and has raised his average from .179 to .208 in that span. He brought it up to .208 from .196 tonight alone. With trade rumors reaching a level of saturation that makes a trade seem near-certain at this point, take every remaining moment to enjoy this vintage-Utley showcase. There'll be Hall of Fame debates to be had later, but for now, it's best to just get swept away in the old man dreaminess that is age-36 Chase Utley.
- Jim Salisbury tweeted this juicy nugget out in the early innings:
Hearing credible buzz tonight about Astros being in Utley chase. Could get time 1B, DH. 6 teams apparently in: Cubs, SF, NYY, 2 LA— Jim Salisbury (@JSalisburyCSN) August 15, 2015
It's high time to start bracing for the end if the Chase Utley era, if you haven't started already. My heart screams no,but getting a return for Utley now and giving more time to Hernandez at 2nd makes the most sense for the Phillies going forward.
- The Phillies might be coming back down to earth after a torrid surge out of the All-Star break as they've score three runs or fewer in six of their last seven games.
- In the race for the 1st overall pick in next June's draft, the Phillies currently sit 0.5 games back of the Marlins and 2.5 game ahead of both the Rockies and Brewers. Is this fun to watch? Kind of. Is it sad that it is fun? Absolutely.