After Friday night’s game, people were feeling enthused about the state of the Phillies. After being disappointingly inconsistent for much of the season, the offense was clicking again. They had won four in a row, and with two games remaining against the Padres, they had a great opportunity to put together a lengthy winning streak.
Two games later, it seems that the Phillies’ offense is back on its bulls***. Joey Lucchesi and the Padres’ bullpen kept the Phillies bats quiet as they fell by a score of 3-2.
I entered the weekend feeling positive about the Phillies pic.twitter.com/6C5L13WxbM— Smarty Jones (@TheSmartyJones) August 18, 2019
With the offense struggling to score, that places more of a focus on managerial decisions, and I question Gabe Kapler’s handling of the middle innings. He had starting pitcher Jason Vargas bat in the bottom of the fifth inning, only to remove him after Eric Hosmer doubled with two outs in the next inning. If Vargas’ leash was that short, why even have him bat?
The bullpen’s newest addition, Jared Hughes, got the final out, which was key when Jean Segura produced a rare offensive highlight with an RBI double.
Now faced with a tie game, Kapler kept Hughes in for a second inning. The “bring a pitcher in the middle of an inning, and then send him out for the start of the next” strategy has seemed to fail about 75% of the time these past two seasons, and sure enough, it failed this time too.
Thanks to Austin Hedges go-ahead home run, the Phillies’ offense would be forced to play catch up once again.
It might have been nice to have the hero of last week’s big comeback on hand, but Bryce Harper was forced to leave the game. There was speculation that he had suffered an injury, and some people suspected that his wife had gone into labor. The actual cause was far less exciting.
Bryce Harper exited today's game with dehydration, the Phillies say.— Corey Seidman (@CSeidmanNBCS) August 18, 2019
Without Harper, the Phillies didn’t do much the rest of the way. In the eighth, Rhys Hoskins hit a ball to center field that was just a couple of feet short from being a game-tying home run. Unfortunately, it was just a long out, part of yet another hitless day for the struggling Hoskins.
None of his teammates picked up the slack. The Phillies recorded only one in the final three innings, and despite some lengthy at bats against Kirby Yates in the ninth, all three batters in the inning went down on strikes.
The result was an ill afforded loss to a below .500 team. And if the lineup doesn’t start hitting like it did before this weekend, there may be many more losses in this team’s future.