The Phillies had a great start to the weekend, pinning a 12-2 loss on the Atlanta Braves to get back to three games over .500 for the first time since Alec Bohm’s phantom slide gave them a victory and a 6-3 record on April 11 at Truist Park. By late Sunday night, however, the Phillies were headed north to Washington as a second-place team after consecutive losses to the Braves. The Sunday night loss was bad because ace Aaron Nola only lasted four innings and the offense went dormant.
But the Saturday night loss will be remembered for quite some time because the Phillies had a 3-1 lead going into the bottom of the ninth, when Hector Neris served up a center-cut fastball that pinch-hitter Pablo Sandoval planted in the right-field seats for a game-tying two-run homer. Before the night was over, the Phillies blew two more leads and lost, 8-7, in 12 innings.
The New York Mets, meanwhile, have won five straight to take over first place in the NL East with a 16-13 record.
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A much-needed day off
The Phillies completed a grueling stretch of 17 games in 17 days with Sunday night’s loss to Atlanta.
While the freshest memory during that stretch is the brutal fall-from-ahead (three times) loss to the Braves Saturday night, it was actually a pretty good job of survival, considering eight of the 17 games were played against St. Louis and Milwaukee, the two best teams in the National League Central.
The Phillies went 9-8 in the 17 games, but their other numbers left a lot to be desired. As a team, they hit .224 with a .286 on-base percentage and a .667 OPS while averaging 4.4 runs per game. The team ERA during the 17 games was 4.39.
During that 17-game Phillies stretch, the Mets took over first place by going 9-6, including winning two out of three against the Phillies at Citizens Bank Park. New York had three days off and wielded its might in the pitching department, posting a 2.51 ERA. The Mets, however, continue to be a flawed offensive team. They hit .229 with a .331 on-base percentage and .672 OPS while averaging 3.7 runs per game during that stretch, and they remain last in the National League in runs per game at 3.5.
Atlanta went 9-7, to even its record at 17-17, during the Phillies’ recent 17-game-in-17-days stretch. They averaged 4.6 runs per game while hitting .233 with a .308 on-base percentage and a .729 OPS. The Braves’ ERA during that stretch was 4.45, a tick down from their 4.54 ERA for the season, which is 24th in baseball and the worst in the NL East.
Miami had two days off during the Phillies’ recent 17-game stretch and went 7-8. They had a 2.54 ERA and, as expected, pitching is the team’s strength. The Marlins’ 3.16 ERA is tied with the Chicago White Sox for the third best in baseball behind only the San Diego Padres (2.89) and Mets (3.00). The Marlins, like the Mets, are offensively challenged, averaging 4.1 runs per game.
Washington went 6-8 over the last 17 days while hitting .239 with a .311 on-base percentage and a .690 OPS. They averaged 3.9 runs per game in that stretch and posted a 3.33 ERA. They average just 3.6 runs per game, but still have a formidable pitching staff.
The Nats are next up for the Phillies following Monday’s off day, which manager Joe Girardi believes his team badly needs.
“Oh I think so,” Girardi said after Sunday night’s loss. “I think it could really benefit our starting pitchers who have been working really hard. I think any time you can get a day off it’s a positive thing when you play that many days in a row. The thing is we’re going to get in late again. We haven’t had an early night in a long time. We’re going to get in late and I think a good rest day [Monday] is probably important.”
By losing Sunday night, the Phillies fell to 5-11 on the road this season. Dating to last season, they have gone nine straight road series without winning one. Their road record during that stretch is 10-24.
“We definitely need to turn it around,” Girardi said. “I think overall if you look at the week, we had a pretty good week, but it’s frustrating because of what happened [Saturday] night. You have to put it in a compartment and throw it away and move on to Washington and go try to win a series there, and winning game 1 is always important.”
The Phillies, who are 4-12 since 2019 at Nationals Park, do catch a bit of a break during their three-game series in Washington because they will not face Nationals ace Max Scherzer, who is 11-4 with a 2.70 ERA in his career against them.
The Phillies got a clunker from ace Aaron Nola and no offense during their Sunday Night Baseball loss to the Braves, but it was their three blown leads Saturday night that really stung over the weekend.
A struggling Rhys Hoskins was dropped to seventh in the batting order Sunday night, and he went 1-for-4, leaving his average for the season at .233.
Larry Bowa, the guru of ground balls, discusses why Phillies shortstop Didi Gregorius has struggled so much defensively so far this season.
Phillies second baseman Jean Segura was a hot hitter when he landed on the injured list with a sore quad and he has remained on fire, going 8-for-13 since returning over the weekend in Atlanta.
Odúbel Herrera has shown some recent signs of improved play, getting at least one hit in five of his last seven games, including his first home run of the season during Friday night’s win in Atlanta.
Right-hander Kevin Gowdy, the Phillies’ second-round pick in 2016, is trying to get his career going in the right direction with the aide of a newly developed split-finger fastball.
Manager Joe Girardi said rookie Nick Maton needs more outfield work before he’d consider putting him in center field.
Today: Phillies are off for the first time since April 22.
Tomorrow: Chase Anderson pitches series opener for Phils against Erick Fedde in Washington, 7:05 p.m.
Wednesday: Zack Wheeler takes on Nationals’ Jon Lester, 7:05 p.m.
Thursday: Zach Eflin pitches series finale against Patrick Corbin in D.C., 1:05 p.m.
Friday: Vince Velasquez pitches series opener with Toronto Blue Jays in Dunedin, Fla., 7:37 p.m.
Stat of the day
This is a fascinating day for inside-the-park home run history involving mostly Hall of Fame players. On this date in 1967, Hank Aaron hit an inside-the-park home run off Jim Bunning at Connie Mack Stadium. The two-run shot tied the game at 3-3 and was the 458th home run of his career. It would also stand as the only inside-the-park homer among his eventual record-setting 755 round-trippers. The Phillies went on to win the game, 4-3, in the ninth on a passed ball.
Thirteen years later at Riverfront Stadium in Cincinnati, Larry Bowa hit an inside-the-park home run off Tom Seaver to give the Phillies a 2-0 lead in the top of the fifth inning. Seaver allowed 380 home runs during his career, but that was the only inside-the-parker. The Reds still won, 5-3, that day as Seaver, as usual, outdueled Steve Carlton. Seaver’s teams — the Mets and Reds — won 13 of the 16 matchups against Carlton’s Cardinals and Phillies during their careers.
From the mailbag
Send questions by email or on Twitter to @brookob.
Question: Does the extra-inning rule make it possible — as highly improbable as this is — for a pitcher to throw a 10-inning perfect game and still lose? And would MLB recognize the feat?
— Lou R., via Twitter
Answer: Great question, Lou, and thank you so much for reading Extra Innings. The answers to your questions are yes and yes, and many traditional baseball fans will be sickened by the thought that a pitcher could actually be credited with a perfect game in defeat.
As you point out, Lou, it’s highly unlikely. However, it actually almost happened in the minor leagues in 2018. As a team, the Tampa Tarpons, who were at that time the high-A affiliate of the New York Yankees, took a perfect game into the 10th inning. They lost the perfect game on an error, but if the run would have instead scored after a ground-ball out and a sacrifice fly with the third hitter striking out, the perfect game would have been intact even though the opposing team had scored.
The only big-league pitchers to ever enter the 10th inning with a perfect game intact were Pittsburgh’s Harvey Haddix on May 26, 1959, against the Milwaukee Braves and Montreal’s Pedro Martinez on June 3, 1995, against the San Diego Padres. Haddix pitched 12 perfect innings before Milwaukee’s Felix Mantilla reached on a throwing error to open the bottom of the 13th. Haddix lost the game three batters later on a Joe Adcock double.
Martinez pitched nine perfect innings against the Padres, but gave up a leadoff double to Bip Roberts to start the 10th inning and was removed from the game. Mel Rojas came on in relief and, like Haddix, Martinez was eventually charged with a 1-0 loss despite being perfect for nine innings.