Phillies manager Pete Mackanin was not happy after his team suffered a 2-1 loss to the Miami Marlins in 10 innings Tuesday night.
“Too many called third strikes with a man in scoring position,” Mackanin said. “That’s a pet peeve of mine and we’re going to address it. I’m going to have a meeting with the team.”
Phillies hitters struck out 11 times in the game. Four times they were victims of called third strikes. One of those called third strikes came with a man on third base and another with the bases loaded (see Instant Replay).
Get a base hit in one of those situations and maybe the Phillies don’t waste a very nice start from Vince Velasquez, who gave up just three hits and a run over seven innings.
For the game, the Phillies had just five hits. They got just one in 4 1/3 innings against a quartet of Marlins’ relievers.
The Phillies are 1-4 since coming back from the All-Star break. They are averaging just two runs per game over that span.
“We’re in that hitting funk again,” Mackanin said. “We’re just not swinging the bats. Too many bad at-bats. We’re not grinding out at-bats and we need to do that.
“Sometimes it looks like we’re flailing up there, getting anxious trying to do too much. I think the guys are guessing. You have to maintain plate discipline. That’s the goal right now – two strikes, put the ball in play, especially with runners in scoring position.”
The killer strikeouts for the Phillies came in the sixth when Tommy Joseph took a third strike with a man on third for the third out and in the seventh when Peter Bourjos took an inning-ending called third strike with the bases loaded. Earlier in that inning, Mackanin opted against having Freddy Galvis bunt with no outs and a man on first in a 1-1 game because “I don’t want to play for one run against that team in the seventh inning.”
Three innings earlier, Joseph had murdered a 97-mph fastball from Jose Urena to make it a 1-1 game. Joseph’s blast landed four rows up in the upper deck above left field. It was his 13th homer in 171 plate appearances, the fastest pace in Phillies history.
Joseph’s homer was the only run Urena allowed in 5 2/3 innings in his first big-league start of the season.
Christian Yelich was the hitting star for the Marlins. He homered in the fourth – on an 0-2 breaking ball that Velasquez didn’t get down enough – and singled home the tie-breaking run with a two-out single against lefty Daniel Stumpf in the 10th.
Earlier in the inning, Phillies third baseman Maikel Franco charged and made a diving grab of a bunt. Franco face-planted in the infield grass as he made the play. Replays showed Franco’s head hitting the ground violently. After the game, he said he felt dizzy when he got to his feet. He was checked for a concussion after the game and said he was fine.
Stumpf inherited two base runners from David Hernandez, who took the loss. Hernandez allowed a leadoff double and two-out walk in the 10th to extend the inning for Yelich.
Mackanin admitted to being perplexed by Hernandez. The right-hander had a 2.55 ERA over the first two months of the season then struggled in 13 appearances from June 3 to July 1. He had a 8.59 ERA over that span. Recently, he’d had five straight scoreless appearances before taking the loss Tuesday night.
“It’s always frustrating when things aren’t going right,” Hernandez said. “I’ve made some adjustments over the last couple weeks and I felt like I've done better.”
Those adjustments, Hernandez said, came after a representative of an opposing team told a member of the Phillies' coaching staff that Hernandez was tipping his pitches.
“I was tipping my pitches pretty much the whole month of June, but it’s not an excuse whether I was or wasn’t,” Hernandez said.
Hernandez said an American League opponent passed the information along to the Phillies after the two teams were done playing each other for the season.
“I’ve made the adjustments that I need to,” Hernandez said. “I feel like my stuff is where it needs to be. Tonight was just unlucky.”
Unlucky or not, Mackanin made it clear he needs to see better from Hernandez.
“He was better early in the year,” Mackanin said. “We’ve got to get him back where he was because he’s important to us in these types of games. We’ve got to get him going.”
The bats, too.