Bryce Harper would've booed, too.
Consider how things went for the Phillies star right fielder on Tuesday night. A bloop fell in front of him (and behind second baseman Cesar Hernandez and Rhys Hoskins) and went for a double in the Tigers’ three-run third inning. In the eighth, Harper overran a fly ball that clanged off his glove for a two-base error. And when he swung through a 98 mph fastball in his final at-bat, he capped an 0-for-4, two-strikeout night at the plate.
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So, what did you expect from restless fans who sat through the rain to watch a 3-1 loss in which the Phillies mustered one hit after the second inning?
“I mean, I’d do the same thing,” Harper said. “It’s not fun to lose, not fun to watch when you’re playing that way — 0 for 4, two punchies. I’m probably thinking the same thing walking back to the dugout.”
Indeed, it was one of those nights for the Phillies.
Vince Velasquez threw 99 pitches and lasted only 3⅔ innings in one of the least efficient starts by a pitcher so far this season. The Tigers capitalized on the bloop double by Nicholas Castellanos and Phillies manager Gabe Kapler’s indecision on challenging a late tag at first base in the decisive third inning. And the offense was muted by a 26-year-old rookie right-hander named Spencer Turnbull.
The Phillies closed April with a 16-13 record. And while it’s far too soon for a daily check of the National League East standings, they ended the month in first place, one game ahead of the Mets, two up on the Braves and 3½ ahead of the Nationals, who will visit Citizens Bank Park this weekend.
So, no, the sky isn’t falling, even though it wreaked havoc for Harper and Hernandez in a messy third innings that won’t make any Phillies highlight reels when the season ends. Velasquez had survived a 30-pitch second inning without giving up a run, and the Phillies were leading, 1-0, when Castellanos reached on a fly ball that traveled about 100 feet.
"We just didn't see the ball. Just a bad sky," Harper said. "Just bad luck, I guess you could say. But got to do the best we can to make that play because that kind of lost us the game in that inning."
Not by itself. Miguel Cabrera followed with an RBI single, and the Phillies tried to pick him off as he made the turn around first base. The Phillies tried to uncover a replay angle that showed first baseman Rhys Hoskins applying a tag in time, but crew chief Fieldin Culbreth ruled that they took too long to request a replay.
“It’s my understanding that the umpire would give you a clear indication when you’re running out of time. We didn’t get that clear indication,” Kapler said. “Right when I turned around and had my hand up to my ears to signal a challenge, I didn’t get it off on time.”
Niko Goodrum followed with a two-run homer off Velasquez, and the Tigers had a 3-1 lead.
The Phillies couldn’t get anything going against Turnbull. Between Hernandez’s one-out double in the second inning and J.T. Realmuto’s leadoff single in the ninth, they went 0 for 19 with two walks and two hit by pitches.
“Thought he threw the ball well, but also I think we’ve got to be better up there and try to hit good pitches and not miss those pitches,” said Harper, who is 9 for 44 with 16 strikeouts over the last two weeks, including a five-hit game April 19 in Colorado. “And when guys get on base, do the best we can to get guys in.”
Harper said he feels fine at the plate but is missing pitches over the plate and swinging at too many that are out of the strike zone. And as he trudged back to the dugout after his eighth-inning strikeout on Tuesday night, he was the symbol of an offense that had gone ice cold.