If ever there was going to be a game to lose, this one was probably going to be it. All this week, the starting pitching the Phillies have faced have all pretty much had one thing in common: they didn’t have good stuff. Nick Lodolo of the Reds had decent stuff, but eventually the Phillies solved it. Today, it was Roansy Contreras who made the Phillies look silly, not letting up all game and having his way with the lineup.
For the Phillies, Noah Syndergaard has been pretty good since his trade over from the Angels, but he was also due to have a bit of a letdown considering his stuff isn’t exactly top notch anymore. He’s skated by with good location in the few starts he’s made here, but today, the combination of middling stuff and bad location meant the Pirates came out swinging. It started quickly when Oneil Cruz led the game off with a triple, then was followed by a single to Ke’Bryan Hayes to put Pittsburgh up 1-0. Syndergaard got out of it, but it felt like a matter of time before the Pirates simply lit into him.
For Contreras, there was a definite gameplan to his day: make the Phillies chase the slider down.
It’s one thing to think they’ll swing at the pitch; it’s another to actually get them to swing and miss at it. Fortunately for him, the Phillies were simply unable to lay off the pitch, instead whiffing on the pitch early and often.
Contreras had his way with the Phillies all day, simply toying with them at certain point, waiting until his offense could breakthrough against Syndergaard. In the fourth, another triple given up by Syndergaard, this one to Tucupita Marcano, led to a safety squeeze that gave Pittsburgh another run. The sixth is when they broke it all open. Another triple and two singles to start the inning made it 3-0, followed by a fielder’s choice that made it 4-0. It looked like the Pirates would run themselves out of the inning when another base stealing attempt was thwarted by J.T. Realmuto, but a double by Bligh Madris scored the fifth and final run of the day for the Pirates.
The bullpen, somewhat surprisingly effective for Pittsburgh all weekend, shut down the Phillies for the final three innings, a resistance not able to be created by the Philadelphia offense, and the game was finally finished with nary a whisper in the final frame. Games like this happen every now and then, and for the Phillies, today was their turn.
They’ll head to Arizona still 2 1⁄2 games ahead of the Padres for the second wild card spot, comfortable in where they sit.