The Phillies had plenty of chances to beat the Red Sox on Saturday night. Instead, the recent run of sadness that has overtaken the team - and its most prominent player - continued as the Phillies fell by a score of 4-3.
Spencer Howard made his first major league start of 2021, and it started off very well. Howard struck out five batters in the first two innings. Unfortunately, things went downhill quickly in the third.
Spencer Howard's velocity has dipped to 92-93 in the third inning. He walked two straight (including the opposing pitcher) before allowing an RBI double. He's at 50 pitches.— Matt Breen (@matt_breen) May 23, 2021
While there were certainly some good signs, it is worrisome that Howard can’t seem to sustain his stuff for more than a couple innings.
Thankfully, Ranger Suarez came in after Howard, and pitched two scoreless innings to keep the deficit at 2-0. Brad Miller tripled and then scored on a sacrifice fly to cut that lead in half. The score stayed that way until Sam Coonrod entered in the sixth. The announcers made a point of saying how good he had been at home this season. That was definitely not the case on Saturday night.
Back-to-back home runs by Xander Bogaerts and Danny Santana extended the Red Sox lead to 4-1, but Rhys Hoskins got one back the next inning with his long-awaited 100th career home run.
47) Rhys Hoskins - (9) Solopic.twitter.com/wOT5IQD7Qb— Phillies HR Tracker (@PHI_HR_Tracker) May 23, 2021
The Phillies’ best chance at a comeback came in the seventh. They loaded the bases for Bryce Harper, but the right fielder’s slump continued, and he went down on three pitches. The Sox handed the Phillies a gift run by subsequently hitting Rhys Hoskins, but Miller then struck out to end the threat.
It felt like the game was over at that point. And it was, although the Phillies at least made it somewhat interesting in the ninth, getting the winning run on base. But Harper once again failed in a clutch situation by grounding out, while Hoskins followed with a strikeout to end things.
It’s been an ugly stretch for both Harper and the Phillies. I have confidence that in both cases, there’s enough talent that they’ll turn things around sooner rather than later. But until that happens, it is becoming increasingly painful to watch.