There was a time when Citizens Bank Park was filled on a nightly basis. It didn’t matter who the opponent was; Phillies fans would come out to support their team. With those days of annual contention long past, sellout crowds are rare occurrences anymore. But with the Yankees in town, it was a given that the park would be packed for at least three games.
As expected, there were quite a few Yankees fans included in the surplus attendance. And as expected, the visitors made their presence felt. To their credit, the Phillies fans did their best to drown out their cheers and chants, but it was still noticeable, and may have had an effect on the game.
Vince Velasquez got the start, and he probably wouldn’t be anyone’s first choice to pitch a big game in front of a lively crowd. He doesn’t have the calm demeanor that you normally associate with big game pitchers, and there were definitely times on Monday night when he appeared to be a bit too hyped. But overall, he did a solid job. He allowed a second inning run off of a Gleyber Torres double, and another run in the fifth on a solo home run by Aaron Judge. Two runs in six innings against this Yankees lineup is really a best case scenario for Vince.
2017 Vince Velasquez probably would have been chase after two or three innings tonight. Him and Nick Pivetta have both pitched through high leverage situations much better in 2018.— Tim Kelly (@TimKellySports) June 26, 2018
Unfortunately, the Phillies’ lineup didn’t exactly step up to support him. The fans - or at least those cheering for the Phillies - were ready to cheer, and they weren’t given many opportunities. Matched against unheralded starter Jonathan Loaisiga, the bats were mostly silent. They didn’t have a hit through the first five innings.
In the sixth inning, the Phillies hitters finally showed some life. Jorge Alfaro broke up the no-hitter with a single and Aaron Altherr followed with a walk. When Cesar Hernandez’s ground out advanced the runners, Yankees manager Aaron Boone did his best Gabe Kapler impression and did a mid-inning double switch.
Unlike most of Kapler’s bullpen moves, that one worked out pretty well. David Robertson faced Rhys Hoskins and got him to whiff on a pitch that was nowhere close to the strike zone. It was so bad that the Yankees’ catcher couldn’t field it, but Hoskins didn’t seem to care. He eventually headed towards first base at a pace that could charitably be called a trot before being thrown out.
If you thought that sequence was bad, Hoskins decided to make it even worse by apparently arguing with a fan:
Someone above Phillies dugout chirped at Hoskins after the strikeout. Hoskins responded, then walked down the steps...and came back out to continue the conversation.— Ben Harris (@byBenHarris) June 26, 2018
It appeared he said "You go hit," while pointing to home plate. pic.twitter.com/EPjFmTQA4Z
Not a great look for Hoskins, and I wonder if his inexperience playing in front of large crowds was partially to blame.
In the seventh, Hector Neris entered the game which probably surprised a lot of Phillies fans who didn’t realize that he had been recalled to the majors earlier today. Those fans were likely also surprised when Neris retired the Yankees in order.
Buoyed by Neris’ success, the Phillies finally made it onto the scoreboard in the bottom of the inning. Carlos Santana led off with a walk, moved to second on a wild pitch, and then scored on a Scott Kingery single.
Unfortunately, getting strong outings by both Neris and Adam Morgan in the same night is a bit too much to ask for. Morgan entered the game in the eighth and promptly loaded the bases thanks to an infield single, a walk, and a bunt single. Yacksel Rios was brought in to face Giancarlo Stanton with the bases loaded and nobody out, and unless you’re an exceptionally optimistic Phillies fan, it’s hard to envision that scenario working out well.
Hear me out, I like Hector Neris more than I like Adam Morgan #phillies— Tom Cava (@TomCava1) June 26, 2018
Sure enough, Stanton singled home two runs, but to his credit Rios rallied to retire the next three hitters and keep the Phillies within striking distance.
The Phillies threatened with two runners aboard in the eighth, but Boone took no chances, and called upon closer Aroldis Chapman to get a four-out save. He retired Santana on a fly out and then worked around a solo homer by Maikel Franco to finish the Phillies in the ninth.
Perhaps the big crowd had nothing to do with it. Perhaps the Phillies were just facing a tough opponent after suffering a disappointing late loss the night before. Perhaps they’ll rebound behind Jake Arrieta tomorrow and give their fans something to actually cheer about. But for tonight, with a lot of people on hand to watch them, the Phillies certainly did not put their best foot forward.