After one of the most frustrating losses of the season, the Phillies had a chance to end their road trip on a positive note on Thursday afternoon. Instead, they left 13 runners on base, and played poorly in the field, resulting in a disappointing 4-3 loss.
There were some bright spots on the day:
The Phillies got a lot of runners on base
Getting runners on base is an important factor in winning baseball games, and the Phillies did plenty of it on Thursday afternoon. Cubs starter Tyler Chatwood is known for his poor control, and sure enough, he walked seven batters in 4.2 innings. In total, the Phillies got 16 runners on base.
Scott Kingery had a big hit
With two runners aboard in the sixth inning, the beleaguered rookie did something he hasn’t done in quite a long time: Deliver a big hit. His double into left field scored two runs and got the Phillies right back into the game after the Cubs jumped out to a 4-1 lead.
Nick Pivetta pitched better than his line
His final pitching line doesn’t look good, but he wasn’t awful. He allowed a solo home run to Anthony Rizzo in the fourth, and then the wheels came off a bit in the fifth. Of course, he would have allowed one less run if the umpire hadn’t decided that Andrew Knapp blocked the plate on this play:
.@Cubs challenge call that Andrew Knapp did not violate home plate collision rule in the 5th; call overturned, violation of home plate collision rule.— MLB Replay (@MLBReplays) June 7, 2018
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While I’m not surprised that the call was overturned - mostly because nothing an umpire does these days truly surprises me - I don’t think it was clear that he actually blocked the plate.
Sadly, that was about it as far as highlights went. As mentioned, the Phillies were very good about getting runners on base, but with a few exceptions, they were not particularly good about getting those runners home.
The problems began in the first inning when Dylan Cozens struck out with the bases loaded. They went on to strand runners in every inning except the eighth. Particularly galling was Maikel Franco’s at bat in the fifth. Batting with the bases loaded, he popped up on a pitch that looked like it would have been a run-scoring ball four.
While this was a bad day for many Phillies, I feel Andrew Knapp deserves special mention. It’s not a secret that he’s a weak defender, but this might have been his worst game yet. He committed catcher’s interference twice(!) and blocked the plate allowing what turned out to be the winning run to score.
This was a fittingly disappointing end to a disappointing road trip. The good news is that the Phillies will return home tomorrow, and they’ve played much better there. The bad news is that the schedule doesn’t get any easier as the first team they’ll welcome is the National League-leading Milwaukee Brewers.