Add the road trip without an overnight stay and the road-home, seven-inning doubleheader to the multitude of oddities provided by the COVID-19 2020 baseball season.
The Phillies left Citizens Bank Park at 11:30 a.m. Monday and checked into Yankee Stadium before checking into a New York City hotel. Before they restarted their season after a seven-day layoff, the Phillies learned they would not need to stay in a hotel room because, on Tuesday, they are instead going to be off for the eighth time in nine days before doing something that has never been done before in baseball’s long history.
The off day was forced by Hurricane/Tropical Storm Isaias, which was scheduled to reach the Northeast on Tuesday. The storm with a strange name also forced a weird doubleheader between the Phillies and Yankees on Wednesday at Citizens Bank Park.
Game 1 will begin at 4:05 p.m., and the Yankees will be the home team. Game 2 will begin 35 minutes after the finish, and the Phillies will be the home team. Both games, under the recently rewritten 2020 rules, will be seven innings.
No need to call Elias on this one. Nothing like that has ever happened before.
“I think someone could probably write a pretty good book with some of the stuff that we have had to face this year,” manager Joe Girardi said after his team’s 6-3 loss to the Yankees that included a 67-minute rain delay. “You get a rain delay tonight. I don’t think we were expecting that when we drove up today, but then we caught word we could get some rain. It has just been a strange year and I really think our players have adapted to it pretty well, and if they continue to do that, good things are going to happen.”
But first, another day off.
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Thanks to the change of venue forced by Hurricane/Tropical Storm Isaias, the Phillies will play their next 12 games at Citizens Bank Park, which means they will have played 15 of their first 16 games in Philadelphia during this pandemic-shortened season that is supposed to last 60 games. It would have been 18 of 19 if the Toronto series had not been postponed.
Given that the Phillies went 94-68 at Citizens Bank Park during their two seasons under manager Gabe Kapler, the revamped schedule would seem to be an opportunity for the Phillies to get off to a good start, even though they are 1-3. The question is whether there still is a home-field advantage in a season when you do not have fans.
“The advantage is extra innings now more than anything,” Girardi said. “You know exactly what you have to do in a sense. As far as having the last at-bat, I don’t think it necessarily means as much. Stadiums are empty, so I think it’s different. The thing about home-field advantage is you hope your club is built around the dimensions of your park. Most clubs are in a sense. But I think home-field advantage might be less this year than any other year just because of no fans.”
It was clear during the Yankees’ win over the Phillies on Monday night that they are indeed built for their ballpark, but they have so much power that they are built for every ballpark. With three more home runs, the Yankees have a major-league-leading 20 in nine games. The Phillies did manage to end Aaron Judge’s home run streak at five, but the Yankees right fielder still had two hits, including a double, and scored a run.
The Yankees’ top four hitters were 5-for-13 with two walks and scored four runs, and the Phillies’ top four hitters went 4-for-17 and struck out six times. Girardi understandably had some empathy for his entire team after a week without playing or even practicing very much.
“I thought our at-bats were really good tonight considering we haven’t played in a while,” the manager said. “I thought we played a pretty clean game. I thought we swung the bats well, and I thought for the most part we pitched pretty well. I hate to lose, but considering what we’ve been through, I thought our guys played a pretty good game.”
In his first start in nearly a year, Jake Arrieta overcame a shaky start and gave the Phillies five solid innings, earning the praise of his manager despite the team’s loss to the high-powered New York Yankees.
It’s possible top pitching prospect Spencer Howard will make his major-league debut when the Phillies host the Atlanta Braves on Sunday at Citizens Bank Park. Girardi said that Howard’s potential promotion is under discussion.
The Phillies were back playing Monday, and our Extra Innings podcast was back, too. Matt Breen, Scott Lauber and Bob Brookover talked about a variety of subjects, including the restart.
With Tuesday night’s hurricane postponement, the Phillies must now play 56 games in 54 days, which is one of the many reasons I believe they should have opted out of this crazy COVID-19 season that has now had a second coronavirus outbreak, ravaging the St. Louis Cardinals.
Today: Isaias has forced the Phillies’ eighth day off in nine days.
Tomorrow: The Phillies and Yankees play two seven-inning games at Citizens Bank Park, starting at 4:05 p.m.
Thursday: Yankees at Phillies, 6:05 p.m.
Friday: Atlanta at Phillies, 7:05 p.m.
Monday: Series finale with Braves, 6:05 p.m.
You don’t get to be the greatest franchise in baseball history without doing some remarkable things, and the franchise record the Yankees matched Monday night is pretty incredible. By winning their one-game series against the Phillies, they extended their home streak to 25 straight without losing a series.
The Yankees lost their first three home series of the season last year, but have won 22 and split three home series since then. That matched a record shared by the 1937 Yankees and the 1997-98 team. Meanwhile, the Yankees’ 8-1 start also matched the best nine-game start in franchise history and is the equivalent of a 22-3 start if this were a 162-game season.
Send questions by email or on Twitter @brookob.
Question: I know it’s early, but all the bad things we heard about the Phillies’ bullpen seem to be true. Is there any reason for hope? — Jake L., via email
Answer: Joe Girardi was asked a question much like that one after Deolis Guerra served up a three-run home run to Gio Urshela that proved to be the difference in the Yankees’ 6-3 victory. His answer was fair given all the Phillies have had to endure in the early going.
“I think it’s really hard to judge our bullpen right now just because we haven’t played in a week, eight days,” Girardi said. “Some of these guys haven’t worked in eight or nine days. We try to get them as much work as we can, but it’s still not game conditions.