As opening day approached, excitement reverberated through the fanbase, a tangibly electric anticipation. A few months ago, the Phillies ended a decade-long playoff drought and tore through the best teams in baseball to get to the World Series. Sure, they would be without Bryce Harper for part of the season, but they had signed the best shortstop in the majors, the hero of the WBC. Then Hoskins got hurt and was done for the season.
Still, there was hope. Even with Painter injured, the starters looked decent. The bullpen was filled with impressive arms.
Flash forward to the tenth loss in the first fifteen games of the season and all that remains is frustration.
The Phillies faced Graham Ashcraft for the first time this season. Ashcraft has been sharp, coming into the game having given up only three earned runs over thirteen innings. While today he threw only four strikeouts and gave up four walks, he still managed to conspire with relievers Buck Farmer and Casey Legumina (in his MLB debut) to shut out the Phillies in a blistering loss.
Matt Strahm struggled with command, apparently due to a blister on his left thumb, and tossed 67 pitches, lasting only 2.2 innings before being pulled. He fell behind in the count early on, and his pitch count rose fast as he dug himself into one full count after another. The relievers who followed found themselves in the same boat - when they did find the strike zone, the ball rarely did what they wanted. Strahm, Andrew Bellatti, and McKinley Moore gave up a combined eight earned runs. Josh Harrison, brought in for the eighth inning, gave up another five runs.
Wil Myers hit a solo shot in the second inning and three-run homer in the fourth. The Phillies, by contrast, cannot figure out the long ball this season.
Wil Myers has a two homer day! pic.twitter.com/BjhbQbep2U— Talkin’ Baseball (@TalkinBaseball_) April 15, 2023
Edmundo Sosa, who in the bottom of the fourth allowed a hard hit ground ball from Jonathon India to slip under his glove, later left the game with what the Phillies described as “low back discomfort.” Before the game, he had apparently went down hard fielding a ground ball during practice.
The only positive takeaway from today was Bryson Stott extended his hitting streak to fifteen with a lead-off double in the first inning, bringing him to within one hit of the record set by Willie ‘Puddin’ Head’ Jones.
The Phillies hope to salvage the series with at least a split against the Reds tomorrow afternoon at 1:40 PM before heading to Chicago to face the White Sox in a three game series. Aaron Nola (0-2, 7.04 ERA) is scheduled to face Luis Cessa (0-1, 7.00 ERA). In Nola’s last outing he faced the Marlins and only gave up a single run through the first five innings before appearing to lose focus in the sixth, allowing three more runs and giving the Fish a lead the Phillies would never come back from, echoing the struggles he encountered in each of his three starts this season. Cessa last took the mound against the Braves on Tuesday and lasted only 3.2 innings, giving up five earned runs, including two home runs, and walked two while only striking out one. Hopefully Nola will return to form on Sunday and will give the team six or seven solid innings.
Observations From Left Field
- Nick “Wolfie” Maton, who on April 28, 2015 took to the mound and struck out fourteen batters to lead Glenwood High School past Eisenhower High in an 8-0 shutout in a Central State Eight Conference game, last night hit the first walk-off home run of his career. While I wish he had been wearing pinstripes, it’s great to see a player who brought his unadulterated and infectious positive energy to Philly have a moment like this. I hope he continues to shine (except, you know, when we’re in the opposite dugout).
- Garrett Stubbs, a Del Mar, California native and older brother of CJ Stubbs, who catches for the Corpus Christi Hooks, now delivers in-person ASMR cranial stimulation.
The Phillies have the best pregame ritual in the game pic.twitter.com/VjEqtP2xvP— Talkin’ Baseball (@TalkinBaseball_) April 14, 2023
- Today is Jackie Robinson Day across MLB. All players wore number 42 in Dodger blue to honor his legacy and contributions to baseball and all sports. If you never learned about the obstacles Robinson faced as the first major league player of color, you might find delving into his story enlightening.