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MLB: Philadelphia Phillies at Cleveland Guardians
The Phillies could really use Trea Turner to start playing up to his reputation
Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

It could get worse before it gets better: Phillies vs. Orioles series preview

Last week was bad. With a series against a first-place team ahead, this week could be worse.

Last week was not a good one for the Phillies. They went 2-4 against the Brewers and Guardians, and frankly, they were lucky to win the games they did. With the best-in-the-American-League Orioles headed up I-95, the Phillies will need to eliminate the mistakes and have their star players start hitting to their reputation if they want to avoid another bad week.

Baltimore Orioles

Record: 61-38, First place in American League East

The manager

After enduring two 100 loss seasons in his first three years with the Orioles (and might have only avoided a third because of COVID), Brandon Hyde has the Orioles on top of the AL East. He finished second in Manager of the Year voting in 2022 and looks likely to win it this year.

The last time they met

In September 2021, the Phillies desperately needed wins, and a series against the awful Orioles seemed like a good opportunity to get them. The Phillies won two of three, but it wasn’t easy. They lost 2-0 in the opener and needed a clutch J.T. Realmuto hit (remember those?) in the 10th to win the second. In the finale, they squeaked out a one-run win despite the best efforts of closer Ian Kennedy. (There’s a reason why nobody is nostalgic for the Ian Kennedy era.)

What’s the deal with the Orioles?

After making a failed run at the playoffs in 2022, the Orioles look poised to actually get there this year. They didn’t make a huge splash in free agency - their biggest offseason pickup was a former Phillie - and actually depended on their young players getting better. And it seems to have worked! Anthony Santander, Gunnar Henderson, and Adley Rutschman among others have stepped up and given the Orioles one of the better offenses in the American League.

I’ll be honest with you, that sounds like it’s a lot more fun than spending a ton in free agency and watching those acquisitions underperform.

Speaking of the former Phillie

Early in the season, Kyle Gibson was pitching well for the Orioles, and there were a few “should of kept” murmurs from Phillies fans.

If there was a strong sentiment to bring him back this offseason, I must have missed it. He was awful down the stretch in 2022 and was barely used in the playoffs.

Now that the Phillies starting pitchers have been consistently delivering quality starts, I think it's safe to say that it was the right move to let Gibson walk. Especially since his recent performance is more in line with what Phillies fans remember.

He’s scheduled to start on Tuesday. Will that be a revenge game for Gibson? Based on how the Phillies’ offense has performed lately, I’m not sure shutting them down counts as revenge.

Best catcher in baseball?

In recent years, it was accepted that J.T. Realmuto was the Best Catcher in Baseball. But since the arrival of the Orioles’ Adley Rutschman in the majors in 2022 (combined with a subpar season from Realmuto), that title is strongly in doubt.

It should be noted that there’s not that much difference between their stats, and Baseball Reference actually has Realmuto being worth more wins above replacement. Rutschman’s biggest advantage is that he walks a lot more, which admittedly would be a boon to a Phillies lineup that doesn’t always do the whole taking pitches thing.

Maybe try a different approach?

Speaking of walking, a major part of the Phillies’ problems on offense is that with runners on base, the Phillies’ ability to take pitches seems to vanish. The team obviously misses Rhys Hoskins’ power from the right side, but he was also one of the few hitters who wouldn’t expand the strike zone to a foot off the plate in clutch situations.

Smarty’s tournament of randomness

The twelfth seeded 1994 blue hats got past the Delaware Memorial Bridge and advanced to the finals. Our final matchup is now set!

It’s now to decide the most random thing of all.

Eric Bruntlett’s unassisted triple play

Did you know that there hasn’t been an unassisted triple play since Bruntlett did it in 2009?

The 1994 blue hats

Just think if the Phillies had actually won their first few games when wearing the blue hats in 1994. Maybe that team doesn’t go into a sharp decline in the following years, and we weren’t stuck watching the likes of Chad Ogea and Scott Ruffcorn in the late 90s?

Anyway, time to crown a champion!


Which should win the Tournament of Randomness?

This poll is closed

  • 86%
    Eric Bruntlett’s triple play
    (106 votes)
  • 13%
    The 1994 blue hats
    (16 votes)
122 votes total Vote Now


Last series’ answer: Didi Gregorius didn’t have a good season in 2022, but he did hit triples in consecutive games against the Brewers.

This series’ question: In 2015, a Phillies pitcher gave up five(!) home runs in a single game against the Orioles. Who was he?

Non-Phillies thought

I saw the Barbie movie over the weekend, and I’ll wait a little before discussing any plot points so that everyone has a chance to see it. (I thought it was fine.) I’ll just say that it’s both amusing and frightening how triggered certain people are by a movie about a doll.

Closing thought

I keep thinking that the Phillies’ big-name hitters are bound to turn things around soon. Then again, I was convinced that Nick Castellanos’ poor season was just setting up heroics in the World Series. (Spoiler: It wasn’t.)

Sometimes, seasons just go bad. You’d think that at least a couple of these guys would snap out of it, but after watching that Guardians series, I’m less convinced. It feels like just about every player in the lineup is trying to compensate for the struggles of the others. Some have suggested changing the lineup, but when so many players are slumping, there’s really not that much you can do besides hope things improve.

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