Everything about Tuesday night was perfect, if you're the sort of person who can detach themselves from their ardent fanhood for a couple hours of genuflection. With the pageantry of Chase Utley's return out of the way - along with the cold, callous, 15-5 thrashing that accompanied it - the Phillies turned their focus back to baseball and their "yeah I GUESS we're in the race" pursuit of the Wild Card.
Wednesday was...slightly less perfect.
Adrian Gonzalez homered twice, Justin Turner parked one of his own, a Phillies starter failed to pitch six innings once again and all of that combined to form an expected result as the Dodgers toppled the Phillies, 7-2.
Gonzalez, mired in a power funk for the larger part of this season's first half, now has five second-half homers after hitting just seven in 87 pre-break games. Joc Pederson reached base four times and Corey Seager three, each part of another solid offensive show from the Dodgers. Utley went 0-for-5, but whatever.
The Phillies loaded the bases in both the fifth and sixth innings, scoring just a combined one run in those two innings, and that one run scored was a solo home run by Tommy Joseph that preceded said base-loading. The Phillies entered the game hitting a preposterously putrid .215/.257/.308 with the bases loaded, and piled on an additional 0-for-4 Wednesday. This is like stacking a perfect Tetris board, perfectly aligning pieces and leaving a clean line for that straight piece to swoop in and blow out four lines in a blink, but instead letting the remaining pieces stack up like an ugly totem in the middle of the screen.
Getting extended looks at young players you think could be pieces of the future is critical, and being able to do so in what is a mostly lost year takes some of the pressure off. The Dodgers just happen to have someone like Seager doing what he's doing (.309/.362/.530) in the middle of a division title chase. But if those young players are starting pitchers - and the Phillies have a few of them, you might recall - their growing pains could lead to extra tax on bullpen arms.
For the 19th straight game, a Phillies starter failed to pitch seven innings. They have gone <6 IP in eight straight, tying team record.— Matt Gelb (@MattGelb) August 18, 2016
I mean, hey, you get what you pay for. Twelve games remain between now and the roster expansion that will surely bring sweet, sweet relief to a bullpen that's been ridden sternly for the better part of this season, and it would be nice to have a starter go at least six between now and then.
Jake Thompson got beat up once again, posting a line of exactly five innings pitcher with five earned runs allowed on five hits, a piece of congruence not seen since Ryan Madson was a starter in 2006. His offspeed stuff kept him competitive, but Thompson never really seemed to settle in or get into an extended groove. His season ERA now stands at 8.79, which is bad. Reliever Frank Herrmann made his club debut, striking out two in his inning of work, and that's about as exciting as the pitching notes get for tonight.
Scott Kazmir became the second opposing starter this season to walk more Phillies than he struck out and still escape with a win, joining the Reds' Robert Stephenson from all the way back on April 7. Kazmir wasn't particularly sharp, but only Joseph really made him pay for anything.
The Phillies will try with all their might to make Chase Utley feel like a loser one final time this year Thursday, when Jerad Eickhoff (8-12, 3.82) toes the rubber for the Phils against Dodger rookie Ross Stripling (3-4, 4.07), and fans get one last chance to pay respects a team legend.