I was going to be cute about the Phillies’ collapse in extra innings against the Diamondbacks last night, but I don’t have it in me this morning, so let’s just get into it.
The Phillies should have matched their season-best six-game winning streak after Jake Arrieta mowed through Arizona’s lineup over eight scoreless innings. Arrieta efficiently generated 13 groundouts and mixed in some strikeouts late to quiet those who needlessly fixate over his declining ability to miss bats. It was a boss performance:
Jake Arrieta, Ridiculous 88mph Changeup (grip/release/spin/slow). 😮 pic.twitter.com/JolLarQ6wP
— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) August 7, 2018
It was also a performance that was ultimately wasted after a disastrous ninth inning blown save by Seranthony Dominguez. Indeed, it was a tale of two very different nights for the starter and closer:
Arrieta: 28 batters faced, 3 hits, 0 runs
Dominguez: 4 batters faced, 3 hits, 2 runs
There’s no sense in dancing around the point. Dominguez has sucked since the All-Star break, and the numbers show it:
Before the break: 28 G, 33.2 IP, 16 H, 6 BB, 0.65 WHIP, 1.60 ERA
After the break: 8 G, 6.2 IP, 6 H, 7 BB, 1.95 WHIP, 6.75 ERA
He’s already walked more batters in the second half of the season despite having pitched 27 less innings. His WHIP has tripled. He remains supremely talented, and some regression from a 23-year-old rookie that had not pitched above A-ball prior to this season is to be expected. Still, his recent struggles are concerning because he’s so vital to the overall success of what has actually become a quality bullpen. They need to get him right.
Of course, the blame shouldn’t fall entirely on Dominguez. The Phillies offense again went silent as they managed to plate only two runs over 14 innings. As it turns out, scoring in more than one inning probably would have been useful. In fact, they didn’t even have a single hitter reach base after the 10th inning as Diamondbacks pitchers retired the final 13 batters they faced. The offense’s most glaring miscue came in the ninth inning when Jorge Alfaro and Andrew Knapp each missed key opportunities to tack on what would have been a game-changing insurance run with runners on the corners and less than two outs. That allowed Arizona to tie the game and hang around until the 14th inning when David Peralta took Austin Davis deep to walk it off:
David Peralta delivers a walk-off home run in the bottom of the 14th.pic.twitter.com/7jPWyAjkMW
— Juiced MLB (@JuicedMLB) August 7, 2018
Side note: I know there are hundreds of people in South Jersey who took a bath on this game last night. Let me know if your night went something like this:
1. Downloads DraftKings Sportsbook App
2. Makes first bet on Phillies
3. Thinks to self: “This shit is easy. Winner.”
4. Watches Dominguez blow it in the 9th.
5. Stays up an additional hour-plus to watch the inevitable loss.
6. Inevitable loss occurs.
7. Goes to bed both exhausted and angry.
Good times. That’s baseball. Bad bounces happen. Shit happens. And, after all, they did just win five-straight.
There. That was my best shot at showing some perspective. Now here’s the problem.
When you consider that those wins were bookended by wasted Aaron Nola and Arrieta masterpieces in which they went a combined 16 innings and allowed only one total run, this team’s biggest obstacle comes into focus. They must find ways to bear down and score outside of the occasional big inning if they want to stop pissing away winnable and important games.
It’s only one loss, but it’s a bad one. A really bad one.