Sleepy Phillies Have Absolutely Nothing for Braves in Latest Loss

PHOTO CREDIT: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

If the Phillies remain interested in convincing Dave Dombrowski and Friends to buy ahead of next week’s trade deadline, you sure as hell wouldn’t know it.

All right, here we go. Atlanta Braves. Big series, back at home. Time to make a move. Gotta come out hot.

Out hot they came — a hot, sloppy, steaming mess. Let us review the play above:

  1. Bad read. Odúbel Herrera should make this play in the air.
  2. A subsequent lackadaisical throw back into the second base bag by Herrera gives Ozzie Albies the thought (a poor one) to head home. The throw should have gone to cutoff man Ronald Torreyes.
  3. Jean Segura’s throw to the plate takes Andrew Knapp into Albies’ slide, making for a difficult-but-doable catch and tag.

Two routine opportunities to record an out. Two misses. 1-0, Braves.

“I mean, you gotta come up throwing and hit the cutoff man,” Joe Giradi said about the play. “And then the cutoff man determines if there’s a play at second or not. He threw it to second and then we didn’t make the play home, but I think you have to come up and hit the cutoff man.”

I’ve previously written about the Phillies lacking killers — guys who play with an edge and rise to the moment. Perhaps it’s unfair to suggest this team doesn’t have those players, or at least doesn’t have enough of them. Maybe that’s an easy hole to poke for a media dude like me, a guy paid to create a narrative, but I don’t think so. Plays like this one, which happen with baffling regularity, justifiably invite the criticism.

And you know what else?

Following a pair of tough losses to the Yankees, a lineup featuring Knapp and Herrera — and not J.T. Realmuto and Andrew McCutchen — doesn’t exactly scream urgency. A late night of travel down the New Jersey Turnpike or a maintenance day are reasonable explanations for a night off, but in the opener of the team’s most important series to date? After having Monday off? Less than a week back from the All-Star break?

The Phillies have scored just 12 runs during their current three-game losing streak. After wasting 11 free passes from Yankees pitchers on Wednesday night, the Phillies were held to just six hits and two runs by Charlie Morton and three Atlanta relievers.

They were just 2-for-10 with runners in scoring position while leaving eight runners on base, bringing them to a collective 5-for-32 with runners in scoring position and 31 runners left aboard since Tuesday night.

Good thing two of the team’s best hitters had the night off.

How Much Moore?

Let’s start this portion of the read with something positive.

Prior to his lousy start against the Braves, which ironically was his longest of the season, Matt Moore had been serviceable in four starts since rejoining the Phillies’ rotation last month. He didn’t pitch past the fifth inning in any of those starts, but he did post a respectable 3.06 ERA while helping the Phillies to four wins.

Now for something not so positive. Moore buried his team in this one.

He didn’t get any help from his defense in the first inning, but the third-inning disaster was entirely of his own making.

After retiring the first two batters, Moore proceeded to allow a pair of singles and a walk to load the bases. Up stepped a struggling Dansby Swanson, who effectively ended the game with a laser over the left field wall to make it 5-0.

“He just made some mistakes,” Girardi said. “You know, I think the first two balls weren’t hit particularly hard, and then he issued a walk I believe, and then it was the grand slam, and that is where he made the big mistake.”

After the game, Moore shouldered the blame.

“Being able to work out of that right there, even if I did give up a homer later in the game, it’s still two runs right there, and I like our chances with our team,” he said. “So really, that was the story. It was about as poor of a pitch as I made all night right there to Swanson.”

While the loss is damaging to the Phillies in terms of the standings, it doesn’t change anything on a higher level.

Nothing about Moore’s latest start alters the big picture. There’s a place for Moore on this roster as rotation depth and as a long man, but he simply cannot make another 13-14 starts for this team down the stretch if Phillies management maintains honest postseason aspirations. Four innings of two-run baseball or six innings of six-run baseball doesn’t change that reality.

But Why?

A couple of questionable decisions worth noting:

  1. Joe Girardi’s decision to hit Moore in the fifth inning with a runner on second and one out was a wave of the white flag. And I get his thinking. He’s trying to protect a depleted bullpen by squeezing another inning out of his starter, but it was certainly a conservative approach. Maybe that play is the right one in the long run, but it basically said, “We’re all good here tonight, guys. Thanks for coming out.”
  2. Andrew Knapp’s seventh-inning bunt. The decision, which Knapp made on his own, was questionable. The execution was poor. Here come the Phillies with their one true rally of the night. One run across, two on, nobody out, and Knapp, who was clearly looking for a hit, lays down a bad bunt that leads to a force out at third base.

An Epically Bad Bet

If you were annoyed by watching the Phillies’ latest loss, just know it could have been worse. Way worse.

You could have been some guy in Indiana who woke up on Thursday morning and said, “You know what? I gotta get me a piece of Matt Moore and the Phillies tonight, and I gotta do it for 50 large.”

The Indiana Grand Racing and Casino appreciates the donation.

 

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