In an eerily familiar scene, the Phillies lost to the Rockies last night 4-3. These games are the ones where the Phillies really show their stripes. Or spots. Whichever one it is, they show them in close games like the one they lost last night.
They had a chance, too. Rockies starter Kyle Freeland left after just 11 pitches due to a groin strain, so it was a bullpen game for the Rockies. But the Phillies had Vince Velasquez on the mound, and at Coors Field, no less. Velasquez clearly didn’t have his best stuff, or he was nervous and tentative about Coors Field, because the first three innings took eleven million years. He threw a ton of pitches and took a lot of time between them, and so the early part of the game moved at a frighteningly glacial pace.
How glacial? After Freeland left the game and Chris Rusin came in, I decided I wanted to make popcorn. Not in the microwave, but on the stovetop. So I went into the kitchen, grabbed the ingredients, found a pot and a lid, turned the burner on, measured out the oil into the pan, put a few kernels in the pan, swirled it around, and then finally walked back into the other room to see where the game was. Velasquez had one out and a man on second. I yelled “Go slower, game!!!” and walked back into the kitchen, and after another minute or so the test kernels started popping so I added the rest, put the lid on, picked up the pot and swirled it all around for 30 seconds, put it back on the burner, and spent another few minutes while everything popped up. After I dumped my popcorn in a bowl to crisp up, I walked back into the other room again to discover that the game HAD gone slower, because Trevor Story was up, two runs had scored, AND WE WERE STILL IN THE BOTTOM OF THE FIRST INNING.
It was not Velasquez’s most efficient start. He only allowed three hits and two runs, but he walked six, including three in the first inning. He lasted five innings but threw 96 pitches. And it took FIVE EONS.
After giving up two runs in the first, the Phillies tied the game in the sixth thanks to a single, a double, and a triple almost right in a row. (There was a pop-out between the single and the double.) They even pulled ahead by one run in the seventh. Of course, a one-run lead isn’t really a lead anymore with the Phillies, especially with Pat Neshek onto greener pastures. Ricardo Pinto pitched a scoreless sixth, but gave up the tying run in the bottom of the seventh.
It wasn’t over yet — the Phillies definitely could have turned this into a win. But they didn’t. Luis Garcia pitched the eighth inning and it went just as well as some of his other recent appearances. He gave up the winning run to the Rockies, and in his last four outings, Garcia has pitched 3.2 innings, given up six hits, four runs, and five walks, which is good for a 9.82 ERA. Yikes.
In all, the Phillies had 10 hits. Odubel Herrera had a bunt base hit. Cesar Hernandez, Aaron Altherr, and Maikel Franco all had two hits. Franco is the one who tied the game with his first career triple. And you know you wanna see it.
And don’t think I’m forgetting Nick Williams. He went 3-for-4 with an RBI, and he’s hitting .311 after a short slump. But of all those hits, they only plated three and left eight on base. Over the entire game they drew just one walk.
The Rockies weren’t much better. They had seven hits and left 11 on base. If you’re wondering why that is, here’s the major difference in the Phillies and Rockies last night. While the Phillies drew just one walk, the Rockies drew eight. EIGHT. So they managed to leave more dudes on base than the Phillies, but they also had more baserunners. And get this — in all, the Rockies struck out just three times. The Phillies? Eight.
Games like this are so familiar. Trouble scoring runs, trouble holding leads. Great teams know how to do those things. The 2017 Phillies... do not.