The momentum gained less than an hour earlier seemed to leave Citizens Bank Park in a hurry on Friday night when Zach Eflin threw five pitches and the Marlins had two runs.
The Phillies started the second half by finally beating Sandy Alcantara - the Marlins starter who held them to three runs in his previous 22 1/3 innings against them - and did it behind three unlikely contributors.
So the second game of the doubleheader, which featured Eflin starting against a Marlins reliever, should have been the easy win.
Instead, it was a dud.
“It’s frustrating,” manager Joe Girardi said. “Zach’s last outing was outstanding. Today his stuff just wasn’t sharp. I can’t really tell you why. There’s two times a year that I worry about starting pitchers. It’s their first start and it’s their start right after the break. I’m not sure how the extra rest is going to play in but we know that it’s important for pitchers to get extra rest, to get recharged for the second-half run. His stuff wasn’t sharp tonight and we didn’t score runs. That was a bad combination.”
Eflin allowed six runs over 3 2/3 innings in a 7-0 loss. He allowed six hits and two walks as the Phils were forced to split after starting Friday with a 5-2 win. The Phillis had just one hit through the first six innings as they were silenced by Ross Detwiler, who pitched one inning as an opener before passing it to Jordan Holloway for the next five innings.
Matt Moore wasn’t perfect in the first game, but he kept the Phillies in it. That’s what they needed from Eflin. He started the fourth inning with two strikeouts before walking Jazz Chisolm. And then his night unraveled.
Starling Marte doubled, Garrett Cooper walked, and Joe Girardi turned to Enyel De Los Santos. Soon the Phillies were down seven runs and the momentum was gone.
“I didn’t really have my mechanics the whole game. I felt like I was just searching the whole time,” Eflin said. “That’s not me. It’s not what I do. It doesn’t sit well with me so I’ll get back on with my mechanics in the bullpen and continue on.”
Maybe Eflin’s night would have gone a little different had Didi Gregorius not misplayed a routine grounder on the first pitch of the game. Gregorius’ first-inning error - his eighth of the season - allowed Chisholm to reach first base before Marte followed with a two-run homer to center.
“We get paid to be able to pitch through stuff like that and have each other’s back,” Eflin said. “Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to pick Didi up in that situation. It doesn’t throw me off.”
In the third, Gregorius’ dive was not enough to reach a grounder by Jesus Aguilar. The play, which was ruled a single, allowed a run to score. Gregorius entered Friday with the six-lowest defensive runs saved among all shortstops and the sixth-worst fielding percentage among all shortstops who have played at least 20 games.
Bryce Harper was out of Friday night’s lineup after playing the first game of the doubleheader. It seemed a bit curious to rest Harper after the Phillies were off for four straight days and are off again on Monday.
Girardi said Harper was dehydrated after the first game but is expected to play on Saturday night. Matt Vierling, who was added as the extra player for the doubleheader, replaced Harper in right field.
The Phillies picked up their first win of the second half on big contributions by Matt Moore, Travis Jankowski, and Ronald Torreyes. Moore struck out nine batters, Jankowski drove in four runs, and Torreyes made a diving stop to start a crucial double play. It was an unlikely route to a 5-2 win.
Jankowski’s three-run double in the first inning was a 64.9 mph dribbler that snuck down the right-field line. He singled in another run in the third and finished with four hits. The Lancaster County native has found success in a part-time role.
“This is the team I rooted for growing up, so to be able to contribute has been a personal experience,” said Jankowski. “Anytime you help the team win, it’s one of those things that’s exhilarating. Walking through the clubhouse, the guys are all over you. It feels really good.”
Torreyes snared a sharply hit grounder by Garrett Cooper and threw to second to start an inning-ending double play. Jean Segura finished the play with a strong throw to first, but it would not have been possible without Torreyes’ stop. It’s hard to imagine another Phillies third baseman making that play.
“He makes it routine, almost,” Moore said. “He’s making a lot of diving plays. When it gets hit to him, you’re kind of starting to expect him to make those plays.”
Moore’s fastball continues to have more life after he spent a month on the injured list with a back injury. The Phillies have won all four of his starts since he returned and he has a 3.06 ERA in 17 2/3 innings.
“My last four starts have been much different than the first three,” said Moore, who had a 9.82 ERA in three starts before being bumped from the rotation. “I am the same person, but I think that I’ve been able to get to a different level with myself more often right now. Being able to execute pitches at a higher rate than I was earlier on. Trusting the target. Trusting mechanics. Trusting myself. Allowing myself to get comfortable out there.”
Vince Velasquez starts Saturday night against Marlins right-hander Zach Thompson. Velasquez recorded just seven outs against Boston in his last start against the All-Star break.