Look, we all saw the last series against the Reds. The Phillies lost three of four against a bad team and missed a golden opportunity to put some distance between themselves and the rest of the division. Alas, it didn’t go as planned and now they came in to Boston to face the best team in baseball. They were desperate for a great performance from someone tonight.
They got one from Aaron Nola.
Unfortunately, the Red Sox also got one from David Price.
It was apparent from the beginning that this game was going to be a pitchers’ duel. The Phillies struck first, getting a double in the second from Asdrubel Cabrera, followed by a single from Maikel Franco, giving the Phillies the lead. That was all Price would give up, as he was outstanding the rest of the way. Both starters lasted eight innings, not getting many strikeouts, but relying on their defense to help them. Nola was incredible, keeping hitters off balance all night (especially Mookie Betts) and getting himself out of trouble with relative ease.
For the Phillies though, this game would come down to two mistakes, both mental errors that would prove costly.
The first was in the third when Rhys Hoskins hit his second double of the game and was followed by an infield single by Odubel Herrera. What happened next...well, you kind of have to see it to believe it.
Now, in my opinion, the blame rests mostly on Hoskins. Going on contact was defensible, but once he got into a rundown, you see Herrera trying to make third base as he’s supposed to. Hoskins, instead of stopping and trying to get out to let Herrera get third ran back toward third, where Herrera (who doesn’t slide) is tagged out and Hoskins follows it by being tagged at home. It was a TOOTBLAN that would cost the Phillies a run.
The other mistake also involved Herrera. In the fifth, Jackie Bradley singled with one out. Eduardo Nunez followed with a laser to Herrera...who badly misplayed it into a triple.
What an epic mistake by Odubel Herrera in center field. Wow.— Matt Gelb (@MattGelb) July 31, 2018
This tied the game and proved to be enormous, as the game went into extra innings tied at 1. The Red Sox made it interesting in the ninth against Seranthony Dominguez when J.D Martinez walked to lead off, but was erased by a double play by Mitch Moreland. In the 10th, Brock Holt hit a two out double, but it went for naught when Tommy Hunter, Relief Ace, induced a flyball from Blake Swihart.
The game remained mostly uneventful until the 13th inning when Austin Davis, beginning his second inning of work, gave up a leadoff single to Nunez. Luis Garcia came on in relief and struck out Brock Holt, which brought up Swihart yet again. This time, Swihart delievered, crushing a walk off double that ended the game, 2-1 in favor of the Red Sox.
WALKOFF Blake Swihart ends it in the 13th inning at Fenway. Red Sox Down the Phillies 2-1 pic.twitter.com/YrSkfDeSm1— Hoyle DFS (@DFSBBallGuy) July 31, 2018
In retrospect, it was a really good game. Since it was broadcast on ESPN, a national audience got to see just how good Aaron Nola is. The broadcast team was near universal in their praise of him, deservedly so, since he’s officially established himself as a top 10 pitcher in the game, if not higher. What the audience also got a clear picture of is how far this team still has to go. While they rightfully a playoff contender, the kinds of mistakes they made tonight cannot happen if they wish to remain in the hunt for a spot in the playoffs in October.
For now, they need to turn the page and know they went toe to toe with the best team in baseball and almost pulled it out. Let’s hope Jake Arrieta can end this losing streak tomorrow night.