The Phillies' offense came alive over the last three days at Citizens Bank Park, but the starting pitching ...
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It made you want to chant E-A-G-L-E-S.
The Phillies scored 28 runs in four games against the Miami Marlins - their most in a series since the 102-win season of 2011 - but they came away with just one win. They lost Thursday's series finale, 9-8, after the pitching could not hold a five-run lead in the middle innings (see Instant Replay).
"It's great to see the guys swing the bats and score eight runs the way they did, but pitching is the name of the game and we didn't see much pitching today," manager Pete Mackanin said.
Spot starter Jake Thompson was tagged for seven hits including two home runs, four walks and five runs in five innings. He was returned to Triple A Lehigh Valley after the game.
While Thompson was not sharp, he was not the only reason the Phillies lost this game. The bullpen was not good (four runs, two homers) and rookie Nick Williams did not play well in center field. The Marlins' bullpen, meanwhile, pitched five scoreless innings in the series finale.
In addition to scoring 28 runs in the series, their most since scoring 28 against Cincinnati in a four-game series in May 2011, the Phillies had 21 extra-base hits, their most in a series in two years. Eleven of those extra-base hits were home runs, the most the Phils had in a series since they had 11 against the Mets in an August 2007 series.
It's clear that newcomer Rhys Hoskins has given the offense a lift. He homered in three of the four games in the series and has gone deep in five of the last six games, giving him eight homers in the last 11 games.
Previously slumping Tommy Joseph has kicked it in with the bat, as well. He had three doubles, three homers and six RBIs in the series. He keyed a five-run third inning Thursday with a three-run homer against Vance Worley. The Phils built their lead to 8-3 when Williams stroked a two-run double in the fourth.
With Williams, Hoskins and Joseph, the Phillies have been producing some thunder in the 3-4-5 holes in recent days.
"We're getting close," Mackanin said. "It's a better feeling where I can fill in the top five spots and go from there."
If offense was all that mattered, the Phillies would have won more than one game against the Marlins. But the Phils' starting pitching and their defense (particularly Thursday) were quite suspect.
Mark Leiter Jr. backboned the Phillies' only win in the series with seven shutout innings on Wednesday night (see story). In the other three games, Phillies starting pitchers (Aaron Nola, Nick Pivetta and Thompson) combined to give up 23 hits and 18 runs in 12 2/3 innings.
Not only was the starting pitching rough on Thursday, but the defense was ragged. Williams, a rookie corner outfielder by trade who is filling in for injured Odubel Herrera in center field, got exposed in the position. He misplayed two balls in the first inning - one was lost in the sun - and that led to a run.
Later in the game, Williams was involved in two crucial plays. He jumped for a ball that appeared to be clearly off the wall and the ensuing carom bounced away from him, allowing J.T. Realmuto to circle the bases with a game-tying, two-run, inside-the-park homer. It was a tough play and a tough read, but a more experienced centerfielder might have played it differently, and it didn't help that rightfielder Hyun Soo Kim wasn't quick reacting to the carom.
Williams' inexperience at the position also showed in the eighth inning when Christian Yelich went first to third on a base hit up the middle, setting up the go-ahead run.
"Probably," Mackanin said when asked if Yelich took advantage of Williams' inexperience on the play.
Williams said the play was a learning experience.
"He's tried to run on me a couple of times," Williams said. "I just came up throwing. I want to limit those. I was thinking about that. That's another thing that can get to you, but it happened."
After his heady play on the bases, Yelich scored the tie-breaking run on a sacrifice fly to center by Realmuto. Williams made a nice, athletic, diving catch, one that looked good on the highlight reel, if nothing else.
The loss left the Phillies at 46-80 on the season. There are 36 games to go. The Phillies need to go 17-19 in those 36 games to avoid their first 100-loss season since 1961.