Game one of the make-up doubleheader with the Nationals was about as fun as a wet, muggy afternoon in South Philadelphia is supposed to be.
With the rosters exploding in September, the Phillies have 15 pitchers in their bullpen following the call up of Enyel De Los Santos, Drew Anderson, and Ranger Suarez, meaning—you guessed it—Gabe Kapler was able to throw bodies at the Nationals in the hope that it would flummox them into conceding. It did not.
Nick Pivetta needed far more pitches than his Washington counterpart, Erick Fedde, to get through the first four innings, but he managed to do so without allowing a run. It was the fifth that proved to be troublesome, when Nationals catcher Spencer Kieboom, who entering play today had a .193 BA against all non-Phillies teams in 88 AB, hit his first career home run. Fedde, the pitcher, then singled to keep the inning going, and Kapler went to work.
First, he pulled Pivetta for Luis Avilan, who struck out Adam Eaton and was immediately replaced by Luis Garcia, who walked Trea Turner and was immediately replaced by Adam Morgan, who allowed an RBI single to Bryce Harper. Fortunately, Scott Kingery used a nifty relay to throw behind Harper and get him wandering off the bag during the play, ending what looked like an already explosive inning that had taken at least three “Xfinity rapping children” commercials to complete.
On the other side, the Phillies offense continued wallowing in its nothingness. Erick Fedde entered the game with a 6.00 ERA through seven starts this season. Obviously, the Phillies could not touch him. I will now embed one of my own tweets, which is obnoxious, but correctly sums up the situation.
Erick Fedde entered today with a 6.00 ERA in seven starts.— Justin Klugh (@justin_klugh) September 11, 2018
So far vs. Phillies: 7 SO, 1 H, 0 ER in 5.0 IP
The Phillies are on their... fifth pitcher? I think?
Kapler’s tinkering went beyond the bullpen, as he removed starting first baseman Justin Bour after his first two at-bats, which had resulted in a double and a walk. He even stole his second base of the season, doubling his total from last year. The walk came in the fourth, when Kapler replaced him on the bases with Scott Kingery in hopes of harnessing the young infielder’s speed to manufacture a run. He was immediately neutralized with a double play.
The Phillies’ next hit after Bour’s double came much later, with two outs in the sixth, when Cesar Hernandez singled. Dave Martinez came out to see if Fedde wanted to come out of the game, but presumably he assured his manager that there was nothing the Phillies could throw at him that he couldn’t handle. He had struck out the first two hitters in the inning, after all, and seemed to only be getting more powerful. 6.00 ERA.
Fedde walked Rhys Hoskins and was mercifully pulled from the game in favor of reliever Justin Miller, and Kapler once more went to the iPad to deploy Andrew Knapp as a pinch hitter instead of Kingery. Knapp flew out to right, ending the threat.
In the 7th, Ryan Zimmerman added some insurance with an RBI single that scored Anthony Rendon off Tommy Hunter.
The Phils offense mounted one last challenge in the 8th, when JP Crawford lined a one out double and Rhys Hoskins walked with two out, bringing Jose Bautista to the plate as the tying run.
He struck out. Of course he did.
Maikel Franco did add an RBI single in the 9th, but it was too little too late, as the Phils left the 25 or so people in attendance crushed at another defeat.
But here’s the good news — another whole baseball game was just minutes away!