The Phillies can only hope they will have a fully rested, incredibly confident, completely healthy Aaron Nola when they return from the All-Star Break. Hitter-friendly Coors Field, and the Rockies' bats, got to spot-starter Adam Morgan early and often Thursday night, as the Rockies beat the Phillies in the series opener, 11-2.
It wasn't exactly the matchup the Phillies probably wanted on paper, seeing that they were putting a left-hander who doesn't have strikeout stuff against a lineup that features some powerful right-handed hitters in one of the best hitters' parks in the country. But sometimes you just have to go with what's on your roster in certain situations, and that's what the Phillies decided to do Thursday night. The result was no real surprise.
It was a good night at the plate for Ryan Howard at least, who hearkened back to the good old days of the 2009 NLDS. After a Nolan Arenado first-inning double put the Rockies up 1-0, Howard smashed a solo homerun to right to tie things back up at one a piece. The Rockies raised the fences this past off-season, but Ryan Howard? He doesn't care about that.
If only there was a way to move the fences a bit further back while the Rockies were batting. Mark Reynolds launched an opposite-field shot in the 2nd inning, giving Colorado a 2-1 lead. The 3rd inning spelled more trouble for Morgan. Trevor Story, who has certainly become quite the, er, story in Denver this season, crushed a mammoth three-run homerun to left field that may or may not have landed as of yet.
Howard inched the Phils closer with an RBI single in the fourth inning that brought home Maikel Franco, but Story wanted to go and do that whole homerun thing all over again. His 21st of the season was a bullet that quickly reached the seats in left to extend the Colorado lead to four. Things did not get much better for the Phillies from there.
Odubel Herrera did have a chance to bring the Phillies closer in the 7th inning, as he batted against Boone Logan, who was the first man out of the pen in relief of starter Chad Bettis. With two on and two out, Herrera struck out to end the inning. On the television broadcast, Matt Stairs had noticed an issue with Herrera's timing and footwork, saying he was a bit out of sorts at the dish with "happy feet" getting him off his game.
Sure enough, Herrera chased a whole bunch of junk, essentially getting himself out. It's a reminder that even the best players go through slumps and issues, moreso someone like Herrera, who is still a young guy. Who knows? Maybe Stairs will pull an LA and go help out Herrera himself.
Edubray Ramos had his first real "welcome to the Major Leagues" appearance in the bottom half of the 7th, allowing five earned runs, including a bases-clearing double from Reynolds. Ramos didn't have his best stuff to say the least, but the Phillies couldn't really afford to empty out the bullpen in the first game of the series, so it was Ramos who was the lucky guy taking one for the team. He lasted just 1/3 of an inning.
For the Phillies, it was another poor effort against Bettis, who is the furthest thing from a stud pitcher. That being said, he was 1-0 with a 1.69 ERA in 21 1/3 innings against the Phillies in his career heading into tonight. Go figure that one. He stymied them again, going 6 2/3 innings, allowing just two earned runs while walking one and striking out five.
As things come full circle, the Phillies can only hope Nola is ready to go after the break. Morgan lasted just five innings and gave up six earned runs on nine hits while striking out four. Yes, it was a spot start, and yes, Morgan certainly was helping the Phillies out, but there's a good chance this is the last we see of him for a long time.
UPDATE: It did not take long.
LHP Adam Morgan optioned. Corresponding move to come tomorrow. Should be Andrew Bailey.— Todd Zolecki (@ToddZolecki) July 8, 2016