Phillies' Win Streak Ends in Loss So Ugly That Utility Man Had to Pitch - NBC 10 Philadelphia

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Phillies' Win Streak Ends in Loss So Ugly That Utility Man Had to Pitch

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    Phillies' Win Streak Ends in Loss So Ugly That Utility Man Had to Pitch
    CSNPhilly.com
    Phillies' win streak ends in loss so ugly that utility man had to pitch

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    ATLANTA -- It got so bad that Whitey had to pitch.

    Not Ford, though the Phillies could use a good lefty.

    Blanco, as in the good-natured utility man.

    After four days of playing like something other than the worst team in baseball, the Phillies reverted back to the losing ways on Wednesday night.

    And it just wasn't any loss. It was their worst loss of the season, a 14-1 bruising sustained at the hands of the Atlanta Braves (see Instant Replay). Things were so bad that Phillies didn't just send reliever Joely Rodriguez to the minors after the game, they bounced him off the 40-man roster by designating him for assignment. The nature of that transaction likely means the Phillies will bring up a pitcher who is not already on their 40-man roster in time for Thursday night's series finale. A veteran such Casey Fien or Cesar Ramos could be a possibility.

    Despite the one-sided defeat, manager Pete Mackanin, whose team had won four straight coming in, maintained an upbeat front.

    "We win tomorrow, we take three out of four from these guys," he said. "We're going to try to end it on a positive note tomorrow."

    Jerad Eickhoff's difficult season continued as he gave up four runs (one unearned) over five innings. The big hit against him was a three-run homer by Dansby Swanson on a flat, hanging slider with no outs in the fifth.

    Eickhoff was the Phillies' best starter last year and a candidate to break out in a big way this season. So far that has not happened. He fell to 0-7 in 12 starts and saw his ERA swell to 5.15.

    "It's happening to me because I can take it," the wide-shouldered Eickhoff said. "I'm one of those guys that can handle it. I'm going to keep pushing on like I always do. I'm as stubborn as the next guy. I'm going to keep working like I always do. Honestly, this game felt like a building block. Out of the windup, I felt really good. In the bullpen, I felt really good. Things were flowing. I was executing pitches. For one pitch (the hanging slider to Swanson) to dampen that - I'm not going to let that happen."

    Third baseman Maikel Franco made an error two batters before Swanson's homer. Eickhoff then walked a batter, setting the table for Swanson.

    Mackanin thought the error by Franco affected Eickhoff's rhythm.

    "Yeah, it always does, but once again pitchers have to pitch around mistakes," Mackanin said. "I can't fault a player for making an error."

    The bullpen could not keep the game close after Eickhoff departed. Adam Morgan was charged with four runs and Luis Garcia five. Before you knew it, it was 12-0 in the eighth and utility man Andres Blanco was on the mound for the first time as a big-leaguer. Blanco, whose fastball did not get out of the breakdown lane at 72 mph, got out of the inning, but not before giving up a two-run homer to Matt Adams as the Braves went up by two touchdowns.

    "Whitey made one bad pitch," Mackanin said with a smile. "I could have used (Jeanmar) Gomez or somebody else, but I can't afford to do that. Then I'm in trouble tomorrow."

    Blanco has now played every position except catcher and center field in his career.

    "I feel proud," Blanco said of his versatility. "I've got two more positions to play. 

    "Since I became a utility man, I've wanted to have all those experiences. I'll be able to tell my grandkids, 'You're grandpa played everywhere in the big leagues.' That's part of life, right? I think so."

    If there was a plus on this night, it was that Odubel Herrera continued to heat up after his dreadful May. He had two doubles, giving him an NL-best 21. He has 11 hits in the last five games and all are for extra bases, nine doubles and two homers.

    "How ‘bout Odubel?" Mackanin said. "How many doubles does he have now, 40?

    "Boy, did he turn it around quick. He looks like a different guy."

    Yes, Herrera does look like a different guy from the one he was in May.

    But Wednesday night, the Phillies looked very much like the team they were in May when they lost 22 times in 28 games.

    We'll see if Thursday brings a rebound.