MILWAUKEE - Zach Eflin had already been hit hard on Sunday afternoon when he looked to left field in the fourth inning of a 9-1 loss to the Brewers and watched a fly ball smack off the wall.
The Brewers had tagged Eflin for two earlier homers before he followed the flight of the ball that soared to left field. But those home runs were hit by position players. The double off the wall, which brought in a run, came off the bat of the opposing pitcher.
For Eflin, it was that kind of day. He did not look quite right -- perhaps it was the stomach bug he tried to pitch through -- and was pulled in the fourth inning. For the Phillies, it was the beginning of a listless afternoon that finished an inspiring road trip with a dud.
The Phillies finished the challenging seven-game road trip with four wins, but they ended it with a blowout loss and one baserunner. Brandon Woodruff, who tagged Eflin for that double, dominated them for eight innings. It was the first time since August 24, 1974 that the Phillies had just one baserunner reach base via hit, walk, or hit by pitch in a nine-inning game.
Andrew Knapp’s homer in the sixth was all they could muster. The other 27 batters went down quietly. The Phillies scored at least six runs in three straight games before screeching to a halt Sunday.
“Thank goodness for Knappy with him being able to get the homer right there,” said Bryce Harper, who struck out three times. “I think a lot of us thought he had the stuff to be perfect today. I thought he went out there and really did a good job. Sometimes it’s going to be like that.”
The Phillies have still won seven of their last 10 games. They have lost one series since April 25. They survived Wrigley Field and took two of three from the Brewers. Jake Arrieta said after Saturday’s win that Phillies had “showed the rest of baseball that we’re one of the best teams.” It was a good trip. But it ended with a clunker.
“I think it was a high-quality road trip that could have ended better had we had a great game today,” manager Gabe Kapler said. “But again I don’t know any other way to emphasize this: Brandon Woodruff was phenomenal today.”
Woodruff struck out 10 batters, attacking the Phillies with a powerful fastball that averaged out at 96 mph. He used the fastball for all but one of his strikeouts, including all three against Harper. It was another challenging day for Harper against velocity.
Harper, who leads baseball with 73 strikeouts, has fanned a major-league leading 39 times on fastballs. His 83 swing-and-misses against fastballs are the second most in baseball.
“All around it’s not good right now,” Harper said. “So I’ve got to get better. I’ve got to be better. Turn the page from today and take the day off tomorrow and turn to St. Louis.”
Harper went 5 for 28 on the road-trip with 11 strikeouts. He has swung and missed at 16-percent of his pitches this season after registering an 11.5-percent whiff rate during his time in Washington.
“I have zero concerns on Bryce Harper,” Kapler said. “I am so confident that his numbers are going to be there at the end of the year. We’ve seen in the last couple of weeks flashes of it being where it needs to be. That is more ingrained in my mind right now than today’s game which was really the result of the opposing pitcher being on point. Nobody was hitting Woodruff today.”
Vince Velasquez, a few hours after learning he was being moved permanently to the bullpen, was rocked for four runs in the fifth inning and failed to record the third out.
J.D. Hammer, who was promoted Saturday from triple A, provided the only positive when his major-league debut in the sixth inning and retired Christian Yelich, Ryan Braun and Mike Moustakas. It was a good first impression and should be enough to keep him in the majors when the Phillies make a move Tuesday to add Nick Pivetta to the roster.