Remember three weeks ago when Brad Miller hit a walk-off grand slam? Well, tonight he struck out swinging with a runner in scoring position and the Phillies lost their third straight series. Meanwhile the Atlanta Braves won their thirteenth game in the past sixteen days to improve to 9 games above .500 and 3.5 games up in the NL East.
The Phillies offense only managed to score 2 runs on 4 hits against the Diamondbacks pitching. The D-Backs starting pitcher, Humberto Castellanos, had never gone more than 4 innings in a start before, but tonight he went 5.1 innings, allowing only 1 earned run on 3 hits. Then, Caleb Smith, who has a 5.12 ERA this season, held the Phillies to just 1 hits over the next 2.2 innings (although the umpires did discover a potential foreign substance on his glove at the end of the eighth inning).
Bad news....Caleb Smith got caught CHEATING... Allegedly pic.twitter.com/0toTw5Y2Pt— Baseball Doesn't Exist (@BaseballDoesnt) August 19, 2021
The Phillies went 0-for-5 with runners in scoring position, and their 3, 4, & 5 hitters went 0-for-10 on the night. Simply put, the Phillies offense embarrassed themselves for the second night in a row. That’s the only way to describe it.
The only hitter who had a good night was Odúbel Herrera, who went 2-for-4 with a triple and a home run. He scored both of the Phillies’ runs.
On the pitching side of things, Ranger Suarez started to show some signs of fallibility in his longest start of the season so far. He went 4.2 innings and allowed 3 earned runs. He walked 4 batters and only struck out 2. His line might have looked even worse, but he was saved in the bottom of the second inning thanks to a strong throw from Bryce Harper and a poor base running decision by D-Backs right fielder Josh Rojas. Truthfully, Rojas had no business running there, but it was still a strong play by Bryce Harper and J.T. Realmuto. I love a good Bryce-J.T. put-out. (It was probably the only thing I loved about this game.)
Suarez went on to give up runs in the 3rd, 4th, and 5th innings before he was taken out of the game, and all three runs could have been avoided. The first one scored on a wild pitch, the second one scored on a hit by the pitcher, and the third one scored in part because of a throwing error by Andrew McCutchen. To be fair, that third one probably would have scored even without the error, but perhaps a strong throw would have nailed him.
This was certainly not a strong start by Suarez, but it shouldn’t be seen as a failure either. Going 4.2 innings on 86 pitches is reasonable for a fifth starter, and that’s exactly what Suarez is. He’s not going to be an ace like he was in the bullpen. As long as he is a competent number 4/5 starter, the “Suarez to the rotation experiment” will have been a success.
After Suarez left the game, the bullpen did a fine job keeping the game close. Connor Brogdon, Bailey Falter, and Archie Bradley combined to pitch 3.1 innings, allowing 3 hits and 1 earned run. They struck out 2 and walked none. Bailey Falter allowed the only run, thanks to a single, a wild pitch, and another single.
And that pretty much sums it up. I’ve got nothing fun to say about this one. It was a boring game through and through, and the Phillies seem to be trying their darnedest to make us forget that eight game winning streak at the start of August.
Oh well, at least Zack Wheeler starts tomorrow. I can't wait to watch him throw a no-hitter only for the Phillies to somehow lose anyway. Game starts at 3:40 pm eastern time.