This is how baseball works. An offense that punishes the ball one night goes silent the next. A pitcher who makes the game look easy for six innings makes a couple of mistakes in the seventh that cost him the game. The opposing pitcher throws a ton of pitches in the first inning then barely matches that total in the next six.
The Phillies, of course, were on the losing end of the stick for each of these and lost tonight's game 2-0. It's hard to blame the Phillies pitching for this result. Jerad Eickhoff was dominant for the first six innings, he was combining his fastball with a killer breaking ball and mystifying changeup. The Reds didn't look like they knew what they were doing at the plate.
In the seventh, he threw a mistake curveball to Joey Votto who crushed it to center-right field for the first run of the game. He then gave up a double to Adam Duvall and a single to Zack Cozart and was pulled from the game. From there, Joely Rodriguez and Pat Neshek pitched a perfect remainder of the game. In total, Phillies pitchers had 8 strikeouts against only 1 walk and 5 hits.
That should be enough pitching for a win. However, the Phillies offense was as quiet as can be tonight. After notching 10 hits on Monday, 7 of them for extra bases, the Phils barely racked up 4 hits. "Barely" in that 3 of the 4 hits were infield hits, with only Maikel Franco having a hit reach the outfield. The Phillies looked like they had the right approach at the plate in the first inning, forcing Brandon Finnegan to throw 25 pitches. However, after that, the Phils seemed ready to go home for the night. Finnegan retired the last 19 hitters he faced. At least four of those were one-pitch at bats.
Once Finnegan was pulled, the Phils mounted their only "rally" in the top of the eighth. Aaron Altherr and Cameron Rupp hit back-to-back infield singles (yes, Rupp with an infield single), putting men on first and second with no outs. Two strikeouts and a ground out later, the Phils were back on the field with no runs to show for it. A top of the ninth made exciting only by an overturned Odubel Herrera caught stealing (he was safe) ended the game.
In early season baseball, we look for the positives and negatives probably more than the wins and losses. The positive here is that Eickhoff looked great for most of the game. We can also point to Neshek pitching in the ninth and looking like his bizarre delivery is going to baffle opposing hitters this year. But, on the flip side, the offense showed its youth and immaturity with its lack of patience at the plate.
Pretty much everyone agrees that a .500 season for the Phillies would be a huge success. With today's 2-0 loss, we can now say that the team is perfectly on track.