Bruce Willis threw out the first pitch at the Phillies game tonight, which was appropriate, given that the Phillies were dead the whole time. Did I make this joke during the game? Yes, but then I thought of the headline for this recap, so I had to reuse it for context. Thank you for understanding. No; it’s not very good, is it? Great.
The point is, with the dangerously inconsistent Jake Arrieta on the mound and a dead offense featuring Sean Rodriguez and Phil Gosselin, the Phillies weren’t looking too bright-eyed out there. Rodriguez even found a way to put himself at the center of a third inning sparked by chaos and concluded by mercy.
They might be looking forward to facing Arrieta in Chicago. With the Phillies to play the buzzsawing Cubs after their series loss to the Brewers tonight, the added drama of Arrieta squaring off against the struggling Yu Darvish is just too intense not to bring up.
Yu Darvish, asked if he needs to show something to Cubs fans in Monday's expected battle vs. Jake Arrieta:— Jordan Bastian (@MLBastian) May 16, 2019
"If I try to show something, I always go bad. So I just want to be myself. He's a legend in Chicago, for sure. So I respect that. I'm really looking forward to facing him."
But they might also be excited to face Arrieta in Chicago because he’s never again been the pitcher he was as a Cub in 2015. The 33-year-old has earned 14 runs in his last four starts, none of which went beyond six innings. Arrieta has the lowest SO/BB ratio among the Phillies starters (2.04) and has struggled with his command this season. All of which can put him in the center of a disaster pretty quickly, especially if his offense doesn’t clock in. Tonight, both of those things happened.
It must be said, however, that part of Arrieta’s downfall this evening was due to another classic 2019 Phillies problem, a lack of depth. Gabe Kapler was aware of Maikel Franco’s poor numbers against Brewers starter Gio Gonzalez in the past and saw this game as an opportunity to get his bench some air, giving Rodriguez a start at third.
Ryan Braun hit an RBI single off Arrieta to give the Brewers their first lead of the night in the first inning. Here’s your fun Ryan Braun tidbit of the series, courtesy of MLB.com’s Marc Feinsand:
Braun’s .408 average here (60-for-147) is the highest by any player with at least 120 at-bats in the [Citizens Bank Park’s] 15-year history.
Jean Segura tied the game at 1-1 in the bottom of the first, and then an ominous breeze whipped through the park and the Phillies found themselves entrapped in an inescapable hex that twisted their actions and confounded their minds.
Arrieta started the third frame by walking Gonzalez, the Milwaukee pitcher. He issued Lorenzo Cain a free pass as well. With runners on first and second, Cesar Hernandez couldn’t get a Christian Yelich ground ball out of his glove to start a pivotal double play, but no matter; a ground ball to Rodriguez later in the inning was just as convertible into two outs, as long as he stepped on third and threw home to get the tag.
As you can see, Rodriguez did not do that. What he did seem to do was follow the directions of Brewers base runner Cain, who pointed for him to throw home just before he did. The result? One out instead of two. Also, the bases were still loaded. Because Rodriguez didn’t step on third base, remember.
The Brewers remembered! Mike Moustakas worked Arrieta’s third walk of the inning to bring in a run and give the Brewers the 2-1 lead. Jesus Aguilar’s RBI single scored two more, and the game was out of reach.
But further tomfoolery wasn’t! Andrew McCutchen muffed a Moustakas fly ball in the fifth that allowed Braun to score. It was 5-1 at this point, and McCutchen did neutralize his error by knocking in a run in the seventh when he gave the game its final 5-2 score.
This is a long stretch the Phillies are playing, with formidable opponents and considerable depth issues. They’ve started it 1-2 and didn’t look particularly lively or dialed in.
Next up, the Cubs, who are 10-3 in May.
BRYCE HARPER WATCH: Tried some new batting gloves. Went 1-for-4 but made another sliding catch in right field. Bruce Willis doesn’t know how to throw a baseball. Good night.