If I could describe Friday night’s game with one clip from the Simpsons, it would obviously be this one:
The rotting carcass of the 2018 Phillies stopped breathing a long time ago, but that hasn’t stopped opponents from continuing to pound on it. The Phillies lost their ninth straight game, and like far too many of the previous eight, this one wasn’t particularly close. They were held hitless through the first three innings, and only managed four hits in the entire game. (Two of them coming in the ninth inning.)
On the bright side, there was reason to be enthused by the performance of starting pitcher Jerad Eickhoff. Making his first start of the season after a long injury rehabilitation, Eick’s curveball looked sharp, and he struck out seven batters in a row at one point.
Eickhoff was quickly pulled from the game after getting into some trouble in the fourth inning, although it isn’t clear why Gabe Kapler had such a quick hook. A logical explanation would be that Eickhoff wasn’t fully stretched out in his first start. However, that reasoning doesn’t hold up under scrutiny.
Gabe Kapler on Jerad Eickhoff before the game: "I think we have some rope for him. We can push him a little bit." After striking out seven consecutive batters, Eickhoff gives up a homer and single in the fourth. He leaves the game.— Todd Zolecki (@ToddZolecki) September 29, 2018
Has Kapler just gotten into a habit where he pulls his starting pitcher at the first sign of trouble? That might have made sense when the team was still fighting for a playoff spot (Remember those days?), but in a meaningless game? It seems unnecessary, especially when the bullpen has been a raging dumpster fire lately.
On Friday night, it was Edubray Ramos’ chance to convert inherited runners into runs, and turn a small deficit into an insurmountable one. (To be fair, the threshold of insurmountability is comically low for the Phillies these days.) By the time he was done, the Braves had scored three more runs, and the rout was on.
After Ramos’ departure, Kapler used six more pitchers to finish the game, which must have been really fun for the fans foolhardy enough to sit through the entire affair. The other night, I mentioned how Luis Garcia usually thrives in pressure-free environments, but even he failed, giving up three runs in a third of an inning.
The Phillies will try to snap the losing streak tomorrow, and with Aaron Nola on the mound, there’s actually some hope that the game won’t be another dumpster fire. I know this has been painful, but just remember: There are only two games left. We can get through this!