Zach Eflin was very good on Wednesday night. He pitched eight strong innings, striking out nine batters. Unfortunately, the Diamondbacks’ pitchers - led by starter Merrill Kelly - were even better as the Phillies fell by a score of 2-0.
Eflin made it clear from the start that he was in top form. He struck out the side in the first inning, and thanks to the Diamondbacks’ lone single being erased by a double play, faced the minimum number of batters through four.
Zach Eflin threw 13 pitches in the first inning. The Diamondbacks swung and missed at four of them. He struck out the side. That'll play.— Matt Gelb (@MattGelb) June 12, 2019
In the fifth inning, Eflin was victimized by a series of bloop hits. Three straight singles followed by a sacrifice fly, and the Diamondbacks were off to a 2-0 lead.
That lead would prove too much for the Phillies’ offense to overcome. For the first time all season, Bryce Harper was not in the starting lineup, and the other Phillies didn’t exactly compensate for his absence. (Although his replacement in right field, Nick Williams was responsible for two of the Phillies’ three hits.)
Diamondbacks’ starter Merrill Kelly is a 30-year-old rookie who spent the past few years pitching in Korea. The Phillies’ hitters might have had more success trying to speak in Korean than they did hitting against Kelly. They had just three hits and no walks, and it felt like the rare time they hit the ball hard, the Diamondbacks made a strong defensive play.
Despite Kelly’s mastery, when Bryce Harper entered the game as a pinch hitter in the eighth inning, D’Backs manager Torey Lovullo turned to reliever Andrew Chafin. But Chafin didn’t make Lovullo regret the decision, getting Harper to line out. In the ninth, the Phillies went quietly against closer Greg Holland.
Depending on the result of the Braves’ game, the loss might have dropped the Phillies out of first place in the National League East. With a trip to Atlanta ahead, the Phillies are going to need to hit much better than this if they want to regain the division lead.