Earl Weaver once said “Momentum is the next day’s starting pitcher.” Zach Eflin showed just how true that is on Saturday night. Coming after a stint in the bullpen, his poor start - combined with an equally bad relief appearance by Nick Pivetta - resulted in the end to the Phillies’ four-game winning streak as they lost to the Padres 5-3.
The game started off well enough, with the Phillies’ offense picking up where they left off on Friday. They scored three runs in the first three innings, with Eflin actually helping out in that department with an RBI single. The biggest blow came from J.T. Realmuto, who continued his hot hitting by sending one into the left field stands.
Eflin had held the Padres scoreless through three innings, but there were already signs of trouble. He allowed base runners in every inning, and I remarked at the time that a good pitcher would have been out of the third about ten pitches earlier.
In the fourth, Eflin’s inability to put hitter’s away caught up to him. Three consecutive batters - including starting pitcher Dinelson Lamet - had two-strike counts, only to get a hit. That left the game tied, and Eflin’s night was over.
Nick Pivetta entered in relief. A few weeks ago, there was hope that he could serve as a viable bullpen piece for the remainder of the season. Those hopes have faded as he’s now given up runs in four of his last five appearances. The Padres scored two against him in the fifth to go on top.
Five runs shouldn’t be too much for the Charlie Manuel-led offense to overcome, but they suddenly stopped hitting after the third inning, managing one hit the rest of the way.
Anyone know why Charlie Manuel left the stadium after the third inning?— Smarty Jones (@TheSmartyJones) August 18, 2019
The Phillies’ win streak is over, but they’ll have Jason Vargas on the mound on Sunday. He hasn’t been great since his acquisition, but unlike Eflin, he’s generally been able to keep the team in the game. Hopefully that will be enough for a new winning streak to begin.