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April Fools: Rangers 16, Phillies 3

CB Bucknor and Phillies Pitching Prank Us Pretty Hard

Philadelphia Phillies v Texas Rangers
J.T. Realmuto tagged out at second by Marcus Semien in the first inning
Photo by Richard Rodriguez/Getty Images

A more appropriate game couldn’t have been scripted for a day designated for pranks and clowning around, although it would have been better had the Phillies not been on the losing end of the joke.

Behind the plate, CB Bucknor drew the ire of both teams. It didn’t matter where the ball crossed the plate - it had an equal chance of being called a ball or a strike. Same for any pitch that didn’t cross the plate.

Regardless of bad calls, the Phillies lost this game all on their own.

Ranger’s starting pitcher Nathan Eovaldi started the game by striking out Turner and Schwarber. Realmuto singled to right field. Hall came up to the plate and drove a ball to left field that dropped just in front of Josh Smith. Realmuto rounded second on his way to third, but double-backed to second as Smith fired the ball from left field and was tagged out as he stumble-slid into the bag.

Zack Wheeler gave up a home run to Marcus Semien on his second pitch. With one out, he gave up a single to left to Nate Lowe. Jose Adolis Garcia then drove a ball to right, allowing Lowe to advance to third.

Eleven pitches, one out. Runners on the corners. The score was 1-0, Rangers.

After striking out Josh Jung, Wheeler delivered a fastball to Robbie Grossman that he managed to turn on and send between Turner and Stott. Lowe trotted across home plate while Garcia reached third.

2-0, Rangers.

Finally, the first inning ended with Wheeler getting Mitch Garver to chase a high fastball. Phillies pitching would not fare as well against Garver in later innings.

Wheeler’s uncharacteristically poor performance would repeat in the third inning when he gave up two more runs, including one on an error by Turner after the ball took an odd hop when it hit the edge of the grass.

A glimmer of hope shone through in the top of the fourth when Realmuto led off the inning by drawing a walk. Hall followed up with a double to right field. Castellanos then fired a hard hit ball right back to the mound that ricocheted off Eovaldi’s lower right leg and bounded into right field, sending Realmuto and Hall home and allowing Casty to reach second. The Ranger’s lead was cut in half. Stott followed up by sending a high loping ball to the wall where right fielder Grossman lost it in the sun, giving Stott a double. With runners on second and third and a full count on Marsh, home plate umpire CB Bucknor called a heater that was inside and off the plate by a few inches a strike, ending the inning and stranding the runners.

In the top of the fifth, Schwarber hit a sacrifice that sent Turner home to bring the score to 4-3. That would be as close as the Phillies would came to mounting a comeback.

Wheeler was pulled after recording a single out in the fifth. Marte came in and give up a three-run homer to Garver.

In the bottom of the seventh, the Rangers blew their lead wide open when Seranthony gave up yet another three-run home run to Garver. He was pulled after failing to record a single out. Bellatti would take the mount and inherit bases loaded. He finished the inning, but not after three more runs crossed the plate.

Kimbrel gave up three more runs in the eighth. Josh Harrison became the first position player of the 2023 season to take the mound after Kimbrel was pulled when he loaded the bases with only one out. Harrison would get the last two outs of the game, but not before three more runs scored

When the last out was mercifully recorded, the scoreboard read 16-3.

As Matt Gelb of the Athletic pointed out, the Phillies haven’t allowed this many runs in their first two opening games since 1895.

Hiding behind the stomach churning score and egregious calls from behind the plate, there was at least one positive thing to note - Castellanos continues to show improvement over last year as he went 2-for-2 and drove in two runs.

If the Phillies are serious about a World Series run, then every game counts. Every at-bat counts. While we’re only two games into the season, it’s a disheartening start. Both of the Phillies’ aces failed to live up to expectations. The bullpen looked no better. Let’s hope this is no more than the pitchers adjusting to the regular season, or the bad luck they always seem to attract in Texas, and that this series is not an indication of what the rest of the season holds in store for us.

The Phillies wrap up the series against the Rangers tomorrow night.