Despite the score, this game wasn’t even close. The Phillies dropped the rubber match of their opening series against the Marlins 11-6 today, on the backs of an inefficient Vince Velasquez and an even less efficient bullpen.
There was a glimmer of hope in the first inning when Adam Haseley, Rhys Hoskins and Bryce Harper led off the inning with a single, a double, and a three-run home run, respectively. There was even more hope when Jean Segura singled and Jay Bruce tripled to give the Phillies a four-run lead later in the inning.
The Phillies first inning today:— Alex Carr (@AlexCarrMLB) July 26, 2020
Haseley - single
Hoskins - double
Bruce - triple
Harper - home run
It took them 28 pitches from Robert Dugger to score 4 runs, and hit for the cycle.
Then everything fell apart.
Velasquez ended up giving up four earned runs over just three innings, including two home runs: a solo shot by Jesus Aguilar and a three-run shot by Miguel Rojas. He did manage to pick off two runners in his three innings of work, so maybe there’s a position for him in the bullpen as a pickoff specialist? Either way, the Vince Velasquez experiment needs to end soon.
After the game, manager Joe Girardi confirmed that Velasquez is expected to make his next start, Friday against Toronto. However, Spencer Howard did throw in Lehigh Valley today, so hopefully the leash on Velasquez as a starter is short this season.
Let’s be honest though, not reactionary.— Ethan Witte (@ethan_witte) July 26, 2020
They cannot let this season continue looking to see if Velasquez still has it. He’ll get another start, but even then, can you believe it if he’s good?
If they’re convinced that Spencer Howard can be effective in MLB, he has to come up
Things got even worse from there, as Cole Irvin took over and proceeded to give up four earned runs on just 23 pitches, though two of those runs were inherited by Reggie McClain, who gave up a three-run homer to the first batter he faced. The homer was one of just two hits McClain allowed. It was a shame he only pitched one inning, since he gave way to Nick Pivetta, who then added on two more runs of his own in 3.1 innings.
For those counting along at home, that’s SEVEN earned runs in 5.1 innings between Irvin, McClain and Pivetta.
Hector Neris entered the game with one out in the ninth and was the only pitcher of the day who didn’t allow a single run. In fact, Neris didn’t even allow a single baserunner. Unfortunately, unless something changes soon it’s hard to imagine that this bullpen will ever be able to get the ball to him with a lead this season.
While the pitching was by far the biggest issue of the day, the offense was just as frustrating. Despite scoring six runs, they also stranded 14 runners on base—ten of which were in scoring position. They loaded the bases three innings in a row and failed to bring in any runs, twice with less than two outs.
That being said, Haseley and Hoskins do deserve recognition for their performances today. Haseley went 4-for-6 with two runs scored and an RBI. He also reached base for a fifth time in the ninth on a throwing error. Hoskins got his first hit of the 2020 season, a double in the first, as he went 1-for-3 with three walks. He leads all of Major League Baseball with seven walks in three games. There isn’t much more you can ask of the first two hitters in the lineup. They’re getting on base, it’s up to the guys behind them to figure out how to get them across the plate.
Now let’s talk about the bigger issue at hand, even bigger than the Phillies’ pitching woes. Shortly before the game, the Marlins had to scratch projected starter Jose Urena due to a positive COVID-19 test. Starting outfielders Garrett Cooper and Harold Ramirez both tested positive as well. Add those three to four unnamed players who tested positive during summer camp (and possibly Jorge Alfaro, who was placed on the injured list for an “undisclosed reason” earlier this week) and the Miami Marlins have a very serious COVID-19 outbreak situation going on right now. I know we all want things to go back to normal already, but how long will the league continue to allow these games to happen with this very obvious threat to the safety of the players, coaches and staff?