When a team plays 162 games in a season, it’s a near certainty that at least one of those games will be aesthetically intolerable to the viewer. For some teams, i.e., the 2011 Phillies, that number trends closer to one while for others, i.e., the 2015 Phillies, that number can get much higher.
The 2016 Phillies aren’t the same caliber of aesthetic monster as their counterparts of yesteryear, but, as we learned well tonight, the production of an utterly unwatchable game remains well within their capabilities. The threat always loomed, even during the gilded early-season parade of 2-1 victories, if just the offense stopped offensing even more or the pitching stopped being a staff of Kershaws. Tonight both disaster scenarios played out against Tom Koehler and the Giancarlo Stanton-less Marlins.
It all started out harmless enough as Jerad Eickhoff and Tom Koehler both brought their best mid-rotation-y stuff to the mound for the first three innings, allowing only one total hit between them. But, alas, the game the Phillies were playing was scheduled to last beyond the third inning—a damning fact indeed.
Someone must have pulled a thread on Jerad Eickhoff’s uniform as he walked out to the mound in the fourth inning, because that was when he came undone. Christian Yelich led off with a home run to left field to open the scoring. Marcell Ozuna then hit a double to right center and advanced to third on a wild pitch. Then, Eickhoff hit Derek Dietrich with a pitch. Chris Johnson hit another double to score Ozuna. After an RBI groundout from Jeff Mathis, the Marlins got their fourth run of the inning on yet another double from Adeiny Hechevarria. That would be the end of the Marlins scoring for the inning, but, in total they got four runs on four extra base hits, a hit by pitch, and a wild pitch. Just about everything that could go wrong for Eickhoff went wrong for Eickhoff.
And it kept on going wrong.
The Phillies notched their first hit of the game—and their only hit until the 8th inning—on a two-run home run to the opposite field from Ryan Howard, but that was a mere footnote on this game.
The real action, which is to say the Marlins offense, resumed in the top of the 5th. After two singles for Martin Prado and Christian Yelich to start the inning, Eickhoff unleashed his second wild pitch in as many innings to let Prado score. After Ozuna struck out, Dietrich came up again and hit a grounder between short and third that Freddy Galvis got to deep in the hole while running full speed toward the left field ball girl. Instead of holding onto the ball, Galvis threw it to, and past, third to allow Yelich to score on what should have been a relatively benign infield single. Eickhoff got out of the inning, but, the 5th ended with the Phillies trailing 6-2 while recording only one hit in the game to that point. Not so good.
Andrew Bailey pitched the 6th and 7th and was nearly as effective as Koehler over that span. Koehler continued to not give up hits, so it would have been hard for Bailey to match him, but he didn’t give up any runs, so he was close enough for jazz.
Pete Mackanin decided to go with Daniel Stumpf—the other Rule 5 pick—in for the eighth, and the game came off its hinges, beginning with this lead-off triple from Mathis:
Lordy, Odubel. You were doing so well. After Hechevarria followed with a fly out, the Marlins unleashed an endless barrage of singles upon the Phillies. First, Tom Koehler—yes, the pitcher—to left field; then Ichiro to right; Prado to left; (Yelich strikeout); Ozuna to center. The inning ended with the score 9-2, and any glimmer of hope the Phillies may have had of a come back...well...they weren’t there anymore if they were ever there to begin with.
Sure, Freddy Galvis led off the bottom half of the inning with a dinger, but who cares? Certainly not the one person watching the game at that point: me. The Phillies were out-scored 9-3 and out-hit 16-3. It seems important to note at this juncture that Tom Koehler is not a particularly good pitcher, though with the way he’s pitched against the Phillies this year, that may not seem the case.
This is who the Phillies are. If it weren’t for the Braves utter offensive ineptitude, the Phillies would be under much more scrutiny for not scoring any runs. So, when they get games like this where the other team is able to score runs, they’re going to lose. Hell, as we’ve seen during this homestand, even when the pitching is on point, they’re still likely to lose. Still, this team is so much more fun than last year, which says far too much about last year.