Seventy two hours ago, the hottest team in baseball was on its way to Los Angeles.
Around 4:25 this afternoon, Nick Pivetta threw the first pitch of his major league career.
Thirty or forty seconds later, he threw the second, and it bounced into the left field bleachers for a ground rule double.
And thus began a Dodgers offensive assault that, continuing from Saturday night’s repeated daggering, lasted throughout the afternoon. Things had started hopefully, as they have all weekend in L.A. A Cesar Hernandez lead-off triple and Freddy Galvis single gave the Phillies a 1-0 lead. There were two runners on with not out... but the lineup was incapable of getting any more runs across.
So, also as they have all weekend, the Phillies were unable to keep the Dodgers back, and soon they were swinging and hitting and ground rule doubling in runs that made it 5-1 in the eighth.
The Good Phight’s analysts sprung into action.
This series has been chock full of what some might call a “Dirty Inning.”
Nick Pivetta had the start, the young product of the Jonathan Papelbon trade with Washington whose previously announced debut had been delayed by the fury of nature last week. The news that Aaron Nola would be spending a more ambiguous time out of commission (ugh) meant that Pivetta would be called upon today for his services, which in Lehigh Valley had been quite notable: An 0.95 ERA through three starts, one CG, and 23 SO with 11 BB.
Things did not translate well in his first big league appearance, however, as the 24-year-old got smacked around with nine hits. But to his credit, only two earned runs came in and he issued only a single walk (though he was charged with a throwing error on a bumbled pick-off move to second). This is a pitching staff that saw Zach Eflin make the worst MLB debut in baseball history last year, mind you, and two new knees later, he just pitched a hell of a game last night (that the Phillies eventually lost). What I’m saying is, Pivetta powered through five innings and did not allow the majority of the Dodgers’ runs. It was not a start anybody was high-fiving over, but it did not signal that he was immediately out of his depth.
In the sixth, Jeanmar Gomez took over and, boy, there’s a reason he’s not the closer anymore. L.A. lit him up for three earned runs in two innings, featuring a three-run shot courtesy of Andrew Toles. It was a questionable moment, given that Pivetta had only thrown 91 pitches. In the post game, CSN’s Ben Davis explained this as Pete Mackanin “trying to get Jeanmar going.”
After early run, the Phillies lineup didn’t have too much more to say, striking out eleven times. Cameron Rupp continued his onslaught - you’re welcome everybody - with three hits on the day. His last one gave way to an Odubel Herrera home run that made it 5-3 in the eighth. But Cesar and Freddy’s first inning shenanigans were, for a long time, the few gasps of production the Phillies showed, beyond a walk-happy eighth that resulted in nothing (Daniel Nava actually walked three times, for what it’s worth).
Most notable was Maikel Franco’s day.
Maikel Franco went a career-high 32 plate appearances without a strikeout coming into today.— Marshall Harris (@mharrisCSN) April 30, 2017
He's 0-3 with 3 k's today.#Philliestalk
Everything encouraging about these Phillies went away this weekend, from Franco’s recent heat to the rest of the offense, really, to the late inning success that has brought us so much joy. Before entering these three games, despite their seemingly continuous bullpen problems, the Phillies were 10-0 when leading after eight frames. Amazing what a back-to-back-to-back walk-off home run loss will do for morale. It didn’t help that the Dodgers’ Andrew Toles and Justin Turner are disgustingly hot right now.
Ah, well. Nothing that boarding a plane bound for the defending World Series champions can’t fix.