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HS210: The Phillies hate getting gifts

On episode 210 of “Hittin’ Season,” host John Stolnis laments the Phils’ inability to take advantage of a crushing Atlanta defeat.

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MLB: Philadelphia Phillies at Miami Marlins Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

On episode 210 of “Hittin’ Season,” host John Stolnis talks in-depth about the Phillies’ struggles against the Marlins, and is joined by Fangraphs lead prospects analyst Eric Longenhagen about the departure of Phillies director of player development, Joe Jordan. Listen here and please subscribe!

The Phillies have lost a lot of baseball games this year in heartbreaking fashion. There have been at least 10, and maybe a dozen games where you thought the Phils had victory in their grasp, but let it slip away.

That very thing happened to the Atlanta Braves on Wednesday when they held a 7-1 lead in the 8th inning against the Boston Red Sox. All 487 times a team had taken a six-run lead into the 8th inning this year, that team had won. Until now. Boston scored six runs in the 8th, then two in the 9th to sweep the Braves, 9-8.

Boston did the Phillies a huge favor. Atlanta gave them a big gift. And the Phillies said “No thank you.”

In response to this gift, the Phils went out and laid an egg against one of the worst teams in baseball and, as a result, lost yet another series to a bad baseball team. They have won just one out of their last 12 series and this time, someone named Sandy Alcantara shut them down over seven innings of work. But it hardly matters. This team has lost to good pitchers, bad pitchers, mediocre pitchers, old pitchers, young pitchers, and pitchers with no arms, it seems.

That’s what happens when you have baseball’s lowest hard-hit rate (29.7%), its highest soft-hit rate (21.5%) and the third-worst line drive percentage (20.2%) in baseball. Rhys Hoskins is hitting .170/.288/.330 in his last 30 games. Odubel Herrera has been slumping for two months. But worst of all, the team appeared to have absolutely zero energy just hours after watching the Atlanta Braves hand them the gift of moving to within two games of the NL East.

The Phillies have lost a lot of heartbreaking games this year. They’ve lost a lot of games that hurt, a lot of games that punched you in the stomach, a lot of games they had in the palm of their hands and let slip away. They’ve lost games that made you sad and emotionally spent.

Last night’s game against the Marlins was one of those games that make you mad.

I’ll almost never question a player’s effort on the field, because generally speaking, one never knows whether a player is battling an injury or whether something else is going on. And maybe it was hard to play in a nearly empty stadium in Miami. It’s gotta be weird, at least.

But one thing you can say for sure about the Phillies’ performance on Wednesday night is that it was lifeless.

Of course, hitting nothing but routine grounders, pop ups, lazy flies and strikeouts doesn’t really allow a team to hustle its way into some energy. A bad offense can often look like a lack of effort. This baseball team simply does not know how to hit, plain and simple.

Gabe Kapler’s lineup fluctuations are certainly worthy of a conversation, too. The wisdom of starting Carlos Santana at third can be questioned, although that didn’t appear to hurt them much defensively last night. The wisdom of constantly moving players around the batting order, moving around defensive positions and dismissing continuity as a thing of the past is certainly a debatable strategy.

It’s also possible Kapler is trying to find some combination that works, although if that were the case it’s likely he would’ve let the same eight players who scored nine runs the night before get another crack at it last night. But when your best players (Hoskins, Hernandez, Herrera) are all doing nothing at the plate, it’s hard to blame lineup construction. It’s also almost impossible for an offense to survive.

The Phillies were given a gift on Wednesday, and they sent it back without even opening it.

How rude — and infuriating.