The Phillies lost yesterday — which came as no surprise to most. We all knew that a team who hadn’t seen in-game action for 8 days going up against the best pitcher in baseball and his terrifying band of power hitters was not going to end well.
In fact, some of us were so confident in the loss, that it started to feel a bit like we might actually pull out a win before the day was done — but that didn’t happen... or did it?
While, yes, the Phillies had the loss tacked on to their record, setting them at a disappointing 1-3, there were a lot of intriguing aspects of yesterday’s game that I feel are worth pointing out, so let’s dive in.
The Phillies hit Gerrit Cole well:
Yes, you’re reading that right, the Phillies saw the nastiest pitcher in baseball with 20/20 vision (or, at least with only the slightest bit of astigmatism.)
Now, you may be asking yourself, “but Alex, they only scored one run on the guy, how does that qualify as “seeing him well?””
The Phillies logged 10 hard hits against Gerrit Cole yesterday (a hard hit is Statcast’s way of saying a ball with exit velocity 95 mph or more.)
To put this in perspective, Jake Arrieta only allowed 8 hard hits on the night — which is impressive considering the lineup he was facing.
Of those 10 hard hits versus Cole, only three actually landed; two for singles, and one for Jay Bruce’s home run.
Obviously, these hard hits mean nothing if they don’t actually net the team a box-score-worth knock — but the Phillies hadn’t seen live pitching for over a week, and came back to face a guy hurling 99 mph fastballs and some of the nastiest breaking stuff in the league. The fact that they didn’t curl up into a fetal position after the first pitch was impressive enough.
I also found the teams’ plate discipline to be much improved from their series with the Marlins. The Phils forced Gerrit Cole out by the 7th inning, and only struck out 4 times against him. That’s a win in my book.
Overall, to learn that the offense was getting the barrel to the ball was and is extremely reassuring, and bodes well for this team to be even more locked in come Wednesday’s double header.
The sixth inning:
Lets talk about the horrific luck that the Phillies ran into in the 6th inning... shall we?
Rhys Hoskins, who looked surprisingly good last night, led the inning off with a flyout. But, this was no ordinary flyout.
Rhys Hoskins hit this ball 411 feet. It had an exit velocity of 101.2 mph, and an expected batting average of .640. From all accounts, this ball should have been way, way gone — or AT LEAST should have dropped for an extra-bagger. Instead, Aaron Hicks comfortably tracked it down. Out number one.
Then came Bryce Harper, who laced a screamer of 104.3 mph down the first base line. Mike Ford — known horrific defender — was exactly in line with the ball. A ball which, mind you, had an expected batting average of .670. Out number two.
Then, it was JT Realmuto, who found the TINIEST bit of luck after he bashed a 106.4 mph infield single to Gio Urshela, who couldn’t quite get his footing, and miffed the throw. Finally, the Phillies got a man on, after striking three straight would-have-been (extra) base hits.
Finally came Didi Gregorius — a guy who the Yankees were terrified of, as they pitched him outside all night long. Didi, who’s been locked in since day one, just, and I mean JUST, pulled a home run a bit too far to the right-field short porch, resulting in a long, long foul ball. He popped out to end the at-bat. Out number three.
So, were the baseball gods on the Phillies’ side last night, they probably would have taken the lead right then and there. Hoskins’ homer would have made it 3-2 Yankees — but Harper’s hit would’ve gone for extra bases, Realmuto had a single at the least, and Gregorius’ homer would’ve made it 5-3 with the Phils on top.
Who knows what else would have happened after that? We could have been looking at a totally different outcome...
But, hey, that’s baseball.
Jake Arrieta was... good?:
I don’t know about you, but I was expecting a heck of a lot worse out of Jake Arrieta last night.
Sure, it’s his first season fully healthy in a Phillies uniform, and yes, he has a MUCH more refined infield defense to work behind him this year — but Arrieta’s command has been nonexistent for what feels like an age now, and that’s a recipe for disaster for a guy who relies on soft contact to make it thru the game.
But, to my surprise, Jake Arrieta didn’t walk a single batter last night.
Not only that, but, as I mentioned earlier, Arrieta allowed less hard contact than his Yankee counterpart — which, again, versus THAT lineup, is not easy.
Lest we forget that his only two real flaws were the shortest of short porch homers courtesy of DJ LeMahieu, and a juiced ball home run championed by Brett Gardner — who was even called out by his ex-teammate after he sent a ball into the left field seats.
Gardy is my boy, but if he’s going oppo the league has a baseball problem— Phil Hughes (@PJHughes45) August 3, 2020
And, you’ve got to give it to Arrieta, he didn't let Aaron Judge hit a home run for his 7th in 6 games.
Sure, Judge was 2-for-4... but no homers!
The next three:
Overall, I like the Phillies chances heading into these next 3 games.
Yes, this Yankees lineup is terrifying, and can make minced meat of any pitcher, but the Phillies’ offense is certainly nothing to be underestimated.
Plus, the Phillies will send Aaron Nola, Zack Wheeler, and one other pitcher to the mound to face JA Happ, Jordan Montgomery, and Masahiro Tanaka, who’ve all had their struggles.
Here’s hoping yesterday’s game was a simple warm-up for our boys in red. Onward and upward!