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Whatever you do, be consistent: Brewers 4, Phillies 1

The Phillies lost their 7th consecutive game on the back of another feckless display of self-abasing offensive hospitality.

Effort isn't the problem for this offense.
Effort isn't the problem for this offense.
Rich Schultz/Getty Images

Tonight the Phillies began a series with the Brewers much as they ended their previous series. So at least they're consistent. Right, Justin?

This game pitted Jerad Eickhoff against Chase Anderson. Anderson is not very good. You might remember him because:

So, of course, the offense politely declined to embarrass him any further. They've made their point, you see. No need to press the issue of his quality and debase themselves by reveling in his inadequacy. Any more than a Maikel Franco home run against him would have been gauche.

For his part, Eickhoff looked to improve from his last outing against the Brewers in which he allowed 7 runs and didn't make it out of the 6th. And that he did. Through 6.2 innings of work, Eickhoff struck out 5, walked just 1, and surrendered just 2 runs. His best weapon tonight was his fastball control and command. He consistently worked ahead of hitters and was able to keep them off-balance enough that only 3 of their 8 hits went for extra bases, as compared to the double bonanza he allowed in his previous start against the Brewers. Interestingly, Eickhoff emphasized his slider in this game as his secondary pitch, throwing only 10% curves but over 20% sliders. Despite pitching well, Eickhoff would like to have at least one pitch back. In the 4th, he got ahead of Chris Carter 1-2 and then tried to get him to whiff on the curve. Unfortunately, the curveball slipped a little out of his hand and spun up and over the the middle-in portion of the plate, just where any power hitter would ask for teed-up curve. Carter didn't miss it and Eickhoff scrunched his mouth, nose, and eyes together as if to swallowing a cup of lemon juice. This dinger aside, Eickhoff pitched well and showed the kind of command and range of stuff that could make him a mid-rotation starter for years to come. Unfortunately, his night ended on a bit of a downer: on his 100th pitch Keon Broxton drilled a groundball off his instep and reached first. Otherwise, Eickhoff would have finished the 7th.

The game remained close into the 8th inning, when David Hernandez, who had finished the 7th for Eickhoff, loaded the bases with nobody out. First, Scooter Gennett singled, then Ryan Braun doubled, and then Mackanin decided to intentionally walk Jonathan Lucroy before brining in Hector Neris. Now, you might be frustrated with that walk. After all, the Phillies needed three outs to get out of that inning and Lucroy was just one more run for them to drive home. (And run expectation charts, yada yada yada.) But I think I know what Mackanin was thinking. He was thinking that if the Brewers reached 4 runs the game would be over anyway; so, why not go for the double play and limit the Brewers to just 1 run. Sound, in my opinion. Of course, neither Mackanin nor I contemplated future hero of meaning games, Hector Neris. Neris sneered at the 1 run and allowed none of the inherited runners to score. First, Neris battled Carter to a full count and some foul balls before striking him out on probably the prettiest splitter I've ever watched. The pitch disappeared from his lower thigh to his ankles and Carter just waved. Neris then induced a groundball to the drawn-in Cesar Hernandez who retired Gennett at the plate. And finally, Neris struck out Aaron Hill on a high and tight fastball that, upon replay, Hill clearly tipped in and out of Cameron Rupp's glove. But the home plate umpire didn't see it, so it didn't happen. Social construction is truth.

Sadly, the Phillies failed to redeem Neris's excellent work, which by the 8th inning seemed more like fate than failure. Overall, the Phillies managed just 5 baserunners all game, on 5 hits 2 by Franco and 2 by Tommy Joseph. It is certainly felicitous to see those two hitting well. Franco in particular looked good. In his first two at-bats he hammered a single and then a home run. It was the kind of contact that Franco has rarely made this season and we hope becomes more frequent.

By the time the bottom of the 9th rolled around, the Phillies had little chance to salvage this game. Jeanmar Gomez pulled a closer and pitched poorly in a non-save situation, giving up a 2-run homer to known power-threat, Jonathan Villar. This plague of non-save closer failure will only be cured when the save has finally been vanquished. Bring on the mixed-metaphorical end.