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Until the Wheels fall off: Rays 7, Phillies 4

Is this loss on Joe Girardi?

Tampa Bay Rays v Philadelphia Phillies Photo by Drew Hallowell/Getty Images

The first time Zack Wheeler faced the Tampa Bay Rays this season, he struck out a career-high 14 batters over seven innings in a 5-3 Phillies loss on May 29.

Tonight, he faced them again, and while he was once again great, striking out 10 (being the first to reach 200 Ks for the season), he would have to overcome poor defense and managerial decisions. Wheeler’s final stat line (5 ER on 10 hits) doesn’t truly reflect the game he had. But we’ll get to that later.

Of the two errors the Phils committed tonight, one of them came from the Phillies’ starting shortstop. No, not Didi Gregorius (although you’d think that.) No, no, it was Freddy Galvis!

Galvis was activated from the IL yesterday and made his first start for the Phillies since Sept. 29, 2017. So, naturally, the first ball he fielded in his return was an error. Because of course. Welcome back, Ferdy!

However, the Phillies struck first in the bottom of the second. The Phils had the bases loaded with no outs and Luke Williams at the plate. Unfortunately, only one run was able to score on a Williams’ RBI groundout. One is better than none!

Wander Franco lead off the fourth with a double, and was able to score on an Andrew McCutchen error that allowed Joey Wendle to reach second. With two outs, the Rays took the lead on a Yandy Díaz single.

Brandon Lowe extended the Rays’ lead in the fifth with a solo homer, his 30th of the season. The Phillies were now down by two, and honestly, I thought that was game. The offense has been so atrocious lately that a two-run deficit feels like 10.

Rays starter Ryan Yarbrough was pulled after allowing a leadoff single to Wheeler in the fifth. Shawn Armstrong came on in relief and allowed Jean Segura to reach on a force out.

Bryce Harper, who was quoted last night saying the team was “wasting time,” wasted no time tying the game up on a two-run homer to dead center. MV3’s 24th of the season.

Wheeler ran into some trouble in the eighth after allowing back-to-back singles with one out. Randy Arozarena plated Franco on an RBI groundout, but Wheeler got Brett Phillips swinging to end the inning.

Rhys Hoskins responded in the eighth and tied the game 4-4 on a solo homer to left field. His 27th of the season.

With the game tied, Wheeler should not have even touched the ninth inning. Although he was still below 100 pitches, I don’t believe leaving him out there was the right decision. With runners on first and third with no outs, Francisco Mejia stepped to the plate and belted a three-run homer to right to give the Rays a 7-4 lead. Joe Girardi left Wheeler out there to dry, and he did not deserve that after the outing he had.

Sloppy defense. Sloppy managing. Sloppy team. And another loss in a Wheeler start. The Phils are back at the .500 mark and are five games back of the Atlanta Braves in the NL East. They’ve fallen hard and fast in August.

The Rays sweep the season series against the Phils 4-0, and now the Arizona Diamondbacks pay an unwelcome visit to South Philly tomorrow for a four-game series. Zach Eflin returns to the mound for his first start since July 16, facing off against another Zac (Gallen.) Here’s to hopefully not getting swept by one of the worst teams in baseball again!