Well this wasn’t pretty.
Against a pretty bad Rangers team, Zach Eflin made their offense look like Rangers’ offenses of old, bashing the ball all over the yard. It brings up the question of whether he belongs in the rotation or not.
Things actually started out pretty well for the Phillies, as J.T. Realmuto continued to heat up by hitting his fourth home run of the year in the second inning. A lead the team would never get back again in this game.
In the top of the third, Eflin struck out Shin-Soo Choo to start the inning, but walked Robinson Chirinos. Corey Kluber, the Rangers’ starting pitcher for the evening, tried to bunt him over but Realmuto made a fantastic play up the line and got the lead out at second for the second out of the inning. Unfortunately, the Rangers weren’t done. Elvis Andrus singled, followed by a Danny Santana double that scored both runners and gave the Rangers the lead. In the fourth, Rougned Odor homered to lead it off, followed by a Ronald Guzman walk and a Todd Frazier double. Choo grounded out, which allowed a runner to score and sent Frazier to third. Eflin got the final two outs, but left the mound down 4-1.
Andrus knocked him out of the game permanently in the fifth with a lead off home run, which meant it was Nick Pivetta time. He promptly allowed a home run, a walk and another home run, making the game 8-1. In the bottom half of the inning, Nick Williams bled the lead a little bit, homering in a pinch hit appearance making it 8-2. The Phillies would get one more in the seventh when Rhys Hoskins and Adam Haseley were hit by back-to-back pitches, followed by a pinch single by Logan Forsythe that loaded the bases. Roman Quinn hit a sacrifice fly that scored Hoskins, but that was all the Phillies would get.
In the top of the eighth, Andrus and Santana both singled, but a throwing error allowed Andrus to score all the way from first, making the score 9-3. The top of the ninth saw Nick Solak hit a two-run pinch hit home run for the Rangers, ending the scoring for the day before former Phillies Luis Garcia shut the door in the bottom of the ninth, ending the game.
The season is still young. There is plenty of time to turn things around, but the pitching staff clearly needs upgrades. We can debate whether those upgrades should have been done in the offseason, but if the team hopes to contend for a playoff spot this year, pitchers like Eflin cannot continue to pitch like this. Upgrades are expensive, but one is lurking in Lehigh Valley. It could be almost time to see what Spencer Howard can do.
The two teams end their quick series tomorrow night before the Phillies head to Chicago.