The fifth starter’s job has been an issue for the Phillies this year. The team has cycled through whatever pitchers have been able to throw a pitch - Bailey Falter, Matt Strahm, Dylan Covey. Now, they’re back to thinking Cristopher Sanchez can do the job.
In fairness, Sanchez was actually quite good last weekend in Oakland, giving them four solid innings before giving way to the bullpen. Today, facing the New York Mets, Sanchez got another shot to show what he can do and actually was quite good. the only problem was that he was facing Max Scherzer, who was much better.
It did start off a little rough for Sanchez. He needed a good play by Trea Turner to get the leadoff hitter of the game out, then missed badly on a pitch to Starling Marte that Marte did not miss on.
Starling Marte's first home run in nearly three weeks gives the Mets an early lead today. 423 feet for Marte.— Anthony DiComo (@AnthonyDiComo) June 24, 2023
Mets 1, Phillies 0, top one. pic.twitter.com/CrNvqpZYj2
Even though Francisco Lindor followed up with a single, Sanchez wiggled out of the jam by getting Pete Alonso to ground into a double play, limiting the damage. The Phillies, in the bottom of the inning, repeated a familiar pattern for them, getting two men on, one in scoring position, but came away empty handed.
It wouldn’t be the last time.
The Mets got another in the third inning on a triple by Luis Guillorme and a single from Nimmo, but Sanchez again avoided a big inning. The fourth inning saw the Phillies break through when Nick Castellanos took a pitch that Scherzer missed badly on.
444 ft home run by Nick Castellanos makes it a one run game— FOX Sports: MLB (@MLBONFOX) June 24, 2023
: FS1 pic.twitter.com/k0PcrbQsXj
Bryson Stott got on with a single with two outs, then stole second, putting yet another man in scoring position, but the familiar song played on yet again, this time with Alec Bohm grounding out to end the threat. It looked like it would continue again in the bottom of the fifth when Brandon Marsh looked as though he’d be stranded on second with a leadoff double, but Turner stepped up and delivered a game tying single. Castellanos singled him to third, then stole second himself, putting runners on second and third.....but with two outs. Harper promptly struck out and yet again, the team failed to get a hit with runners in scoring position.
It would cost them in the sixth. Sanchez allowed a hit to start the inning before being pulled in favor of Yunior Marte, who himself allowed two more singles to load the bases. Now, because this is the not the Phillies, the Mets were bound to get a hit, but instead, Alonso grounded into a fielder’s choice, scoring Nimmo and leaving runners on the corners with one out. Tommy Pham followed with another single that scored Starling Marte and made the score 4-2. Yunior Marte (ed. note: far too many Martes for one game) got out of the inning, but the damage was done.
The rest of the game was an exercise in watching the Phillies hit themselves into double plays that killed rallies. One in the seventh inning with one out by Bohm, one in the eighth by Stott, also with one out and, you guessed it, a runner in scoring position. The ninth saw a small flicker of hope when Marsh had a single with one out, but...
...want to guess how the game ended? That’s right, a double play.
This was a tough one to take since, while Scherzer was good, he wasn’t unhittable. There were chances to be had that the team just couldn’t take advantage of. The current bullpen construction is showing a sizable right handed hole with Seranthony Dominguez on the injured list, though Jeff Hoffman had another good outing to his name. The lack of ability to hit with runners in scoring position continues to be a problem.
Still, it’s one game and the team can win the series tomorrow with Zack Wheeler on the mound. I’ll take those odds.