Nola, Bullpen Fail To Lock Down Series Sweep of Reds

PHOTO CREDIT: ERIC HARTLINE-USA TODAY SPORTS

The Phillies let an eminently winnable game get away from them this afternoon at Citizens Bank Park in a 4-3 loss to the Reds. A quiet offense that produced only five hits, Aaron Nola, and a leaky bullpen all shared the blame as the Phillies failed to earn a series sweep. It was a bizarre game, one with lots to talk about, so let’s get into it with some observations.

Another Weird Start For Nola

Disappointing? Underwhelming? Fine? I don’t quite know how to best describe Aaron Nola’s day. He held the Reds to only one run through six innings, but ran into trouble in the seventh. After retiring the first two batters of the inning, Nola allowed a single and a four-pitch walk before being pulled by Gabe Kapler after 104 pitches with a 3-1 lead. If we’re looking for someone to blame for what happened next, I guess Kapler is a candidate because he didn’t trust his best starter in the game’s most important moment, but I’ll defend the manager here. Nola has been far from a sure thing in 2019, and he looked flat in the seventh. Plus, Jose Alvarez had been awesome lately, allowing opposing batters to hit only .186 while pitching to a 0.75 ERA since May 9. He got a weak grounder off the bat of Nick Senzel that turned into an infield single and allowed a weakly hit floater that fell for a hit after that. It didn’t work out. Shit happens.

If we’re assigning blame, I’m more inclined to put it on Nola. I know it’s not his fault that Alvarez coughed up two hits or that Vince Velasquez allowed a go-ahead pissrod RBI single to Eugenio Suarez, but with a series sweep in reach, I would like to see the staff ace shut the door on that inning and not even give Kapler a decision to make. Instead, he walked Josh VanMeter, a guy hitting .226, on four pitches. Maybe I’m being a bit hard on Nola, but I expect more from him, and he still hasn’t recaptured his 2018 form 14 starts into this season.

Do The Hustle

Everybody knows that if you want to make it in Philadelphia, you’ve gotta hustle. You know, play with grit, heart, and determination. Just ask Angelo Cataldi, the self-proclaimed voice of the fan, who spent most of the past week raising hell over Jean Segura’s failure to do a burpee and a hard 90 to first base after falling in the batter’s box last Monday. That display of disrespect to the game, nay, to the game and its fans, according to Cataldi, was directly responsible for Andrew McCutchen’s ACL injury.

It finally seemed like we were ready to move on from such an inane debate, but then Rhys Hoskins stepped to the plate in the third inning and did something that will undoubtedly give Cataldi another week of running back the same nonsense. Hoskins hit what appeared to be an inning-ending pop out before the wind took it, resulting in a 2-1 Phillies lead.

A few things about this play:

  1. Hoskins didn’t bust it down the line. Then again, everybody in the stadium thought it was going to be foul off the bat.
  2. Bryce Harper, who made a terrific charge at the plate to score the second run, had to do so only because he didn’t run hard on contact. He admitted after the game that he got caught looking at the play.
  3. Guarantee you Gabe Kapler immediately thought of Cataldi after this play and muttered to himself, “Jesus Christ. Here we go again.

I just can’t bring myself to get that fired up when over a 162-game season these guys don’t go balls out on every single play, but I’m sure there are plenty of people who will be. I’m also sure Angelo will double down on his faux outrage and call for a Hoskins benching tomorrow morning. Stay tuned for that riveting soliloquy.

As for Hoskins, the expected batting average on a ball hit that distance, at that speed and angle is .010. Seriously, .010, and he got a hit and 2 RBI out of it. Sometimes, it’s better to be lucky than good.

Bryce’s Base Running

Harper had an adventure on the basepaths in this one. As noted above, he came around third base slowly before busting his ass to the plate to beat the throw on Hoskins’ two-run single:

In the fifth inning, he didn’t hesitate to grab second base on Yasiel Puig’s throw to the plate. It was a textbook burst out of the box and turn around the first base bag. After a Jean Segura sac fly scored Cesar Hernandez and moved Harper to third, he then tried to steal home on Reds starter Sonny Gray. Curt Casali got the tag down this time and Hoskins missed out on an RBI opportunity.

As it turns out, the Phillies could have used that run, and it was no doubt an ill-advised attempt given there were two strikes and Hoskins could’ve essentially killed Harper had he put the ball in play.

Here’s what Kapler said about the steal attempt after the game:

I spoke to Bryce about that. So, he has been very aggressive on the bases, as you guys have seen. He’s won some games for us with his aggressive base running, and he and I spoke about it. He understands that was a little overaggressive.

Keep in mind Hoskins entered play Sunday hitting only .216 since May 8 and didn’t exactly have good swings today. Dumb? Yeah, but I won’t completely kill him for it. Harper is going to make some questionable decisions, and he’s going to be overly aggressive at times, but I view that as a net positive and something that will more often than not give his team a jolt. It just didn’t work here.

It’s Better to Be Lucky Than Good Part 2

Just like the Phillies caught a break in the third, the Reds scratched across a run in the second thanks to some luck. With Derek Dietrich breaking for second base on a hit and run, Jose Iglesias hit a pop up with a 50.1 mph exit velocity to second base. Hernandez vacated his position to cover the second base bag, and the ball fell to the ground, allowing Dietrich to reach third with one out. It was only the ninth MLB hit this season in which a ball was batted in the air with a less than a 51 mph exit velocity. Jose Peraza would follow with a swinging bunt ground ball that had a sizzling 51.8 mph exit velocity to score Dietrich. What a weird sequence.

Cesar Hernandez Doing it Up Top

The Phillies are going to miss Andrew McCutchen in the leadoff spot, but it was a nice little Sunday afternoon for Cesar Hernandez. Two walks, two runs scored and a stolen base. Interestingly, those two walks were his first of the season in the leadoff spot. I had some concern about moving Hernandez out of the No. 6 spot where he’s hitting .307 with a .926 OPS this season, but he’s done a nice job up top. In 27 PAs, he’s posting an .833 OPS.

 

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12 Comments

  • Mikey from the block June 9, 2019 at 5:14 pm

    Imminently? No. EMINENTLY!

    Reply
    • BWanksCB June 9, 2019 at 5:45 pm

      True. Thx.

      Reply
      • Slow adult cub reporter Bwanks June 9, 2019 at 10:53 pm

        You’re a ducking moron, Bwanks. Did you change the article to ‘an’?

        Reply
  • Craig Berube June 9, 2019 at 5:43 pm

    Taking St. Louis to the promised land losers. Enjoy another 40 plus years of obscurity hahaahaahaaahaaaaaaahaaaaaaa LOSERS
    Chief Out!

    Reply
  • So Taguchi - Phillies Legend June 9, 2019 at 6:42 pm

    Wonder if Angelo is going to try and make Hoskins a pariah for not running out the pop up that got dropped. Oh thats right, he doesnt have the same complexion of Jimmy or Jean, so we wont hear a peep.

    Reply
  • Sunday Phils Broadcasters Comments June 9, 2019 at 7:23 pm

    Schmitty: These analytics *deep sighs like Ray Didinger* I don’t know. Back in my day, Dallas Green would have told Nola to strike the mother jumper out, and that would’ve been that. Krukker: Jim Fregosi never rubbed coconut oil on his marbles, I’ll tell you that. TMac: I think Murph has a bit of a man crush on Gabe, isn’t that right, Murph? AHHAWHAWHAWHAWHAW

    Reply
  • Pete Rose June 9, 2019 at 7:26 pm

    baseball is boring and appreciably more boring than the start of this decade.

    Reply
  • The Cold Hard Truth June 9, 2019 at 7:43 pm

    wanker,

    how can you work at the same company that hired and keeps on staff a known racist?

    Reply
    • The General June 9, 2019 at 7:52 pm

      KINKER IS SUCH A FUCKING SCUMBAG.
      ALWAYS TAKING SHORTCUTS, ALWAYS MAKING DUMB MOVES.
      THIS IS no SURPRISE AT ALL!

      Reply
  • Put Gabe Kapler in the Bagster June 9, 2019 at 9:17 pm

    Have the Phillies ever won more than 5 games in a row with Kapler as manager? A pretty talented team underachieving.

    The awful Reds couldn’t wait to get on a plane and get out of Philly and Kapler couldn’t even get his team up to sweep these losers out of town. Phils are up 3-1 and Kapler replaces Nola with some rag armed stiff and takes Jay Bruce out of the game on the same managerial move. Jay Bruce is probably the only reason the Phils arent on a 9 or 10 10 skid and numbnutz replaces him with a .180 hitter in Nick Williams.

    Reply
  • Kink-shaming in 2019 June 10, 2019 at 12:32 am

    Oi Wankmeister, what’s the deal with the giant bolded sections in the article? Scrolling through the front page I almost mistook this for one of the useless gambling posts.

    Reply
  • Wes June 10, 2019 at 5:49 pm

    At the end of the day,. Both Hoskins and Harper failed to run hard and it cost us the game. I don’t think it’s too much to ask to go hard on every play. Even if you think it’s foul, run hard to 1st. When there’s 2 outs, run hard around the bases. There’s not much running in baseball, all we ask is that you run hard when it’s time to do so. I blame kapler for not pushing his players to hustle more. As a life long fan, it’s embarrassing to watch

    Reply
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