This was predictable.
Baseball is an everyday sport. Rhythm and repetition are key. Long layoffs are poison.
The Phillies had eight days off by the time they took the field to face Gerrit Cole and the New York Yankees on Monday night. In the end, the Phils suffered a 6-3 loss to fall to 1-3 in the 60-game season.
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The Phils' long layoff, of course, was the result of the team coming in contact with the COVID-19-stricken Miami Marlins two weekends ago.
With Monday night's win, the Yankees improved to 8-1. That's the best record in the majors.
The Yankees entered the game with 17 homers, which tied them with the Los Angeles Dodgers for the most in the majors. The Yankees clubbed three more in this game, including two against starter Jake Arrieta.
It wasn't great. But it wasn't bad, either.
The right-hander, making his first regular-season start in nearly a year, pitched five walk-free innings and struck out four. He allowed seven hits and three runs. He threw 78 pitches and hit 94 mph on the radar gun.
Arrieta, whose season was ended by elbow surgery last year, showed some good movement on his two-seam fastball down in the zone, especially in the third and fourth innings when he registered four straight strikeouts.
Arrieta got in trouble early in the game with a couple balls up in the zone and two of them ended up over the wall. Four of the seven hits he allowed were for extra bases.
Again, it wasn't great. But it was definitely something to build on for Arrieta, who needs to deliver behind Aaron Nola and Zack Wheeler if this team is going to have any chance of making the postseason.
The bullpen was predicted to be this team's weakness and, so far, the predictions are accurate.
Deolis Guerra, an offseason waiver claim from Milwaukee, picked up Arrieta in the sixth inning with the Phillies trailing just 3-1. Things got out of hand quickly. Guerra walked the first batter he faced then hit the next batter. Two batters later, Gio Urshela launched a three-run homer to left to increase the Yankees' lead to 6-1. Those extra runs were important because the Phillies scored twice in the late innings.
The bullpen has come up small in two of the Phillies' three losses. Eight days earlier, in an 11-6 loss to Miami, the Phillies' 'pen gave up seven runs in six innings.
The Phils did get some good work out of the 'pen Monday night from veterans Tommy Hunter and Jose Alvarez. They both pitched a scoreless inning.
The right-hander, who signed a nine-year, $324 million contract with the Yankees in the offseason, won for the third time in as many starts with his new club. He allowed five hits, including a homer to Jay Bruce, and a run over six innings. He walked one and struck out four.
Spencer Howard time?
With Tropical Storm Isaias bearing down on the East Coast, Major League Baseball proactively postponed Tuesday night's game between the Phillies and Yankees. It will be made up as part of a doubleheader Wednesday at Citizens Bank Park. First game is 4:05 p.m. The second game will start no more than 30 minutes after the conclusion of the first game. Both games will be seven-inning affairs and the Yankees will be the home team in the first game.
Doubleheaders always cause scheduling issues with the starting pitching. The Phils will use Nola and Wheeler in Wednesday's doubleheader and will need another starter in the subsequent days.
So, it might make some sense for the Phillies to bring up top prospect Spencer Howard for one of Wednesday's starts.
It's not a matter of if, but when, Howard will be called up to help this season.
Before Monday night's game — and before Tuesday night's postponement had been announced — manager Joe Girardi was asked if there were any plans to bring Howard.
"Our discussions have been more about how he's doing as opposed to an exact date if we're going to call him up," Girardi said. "It's been more how he's doing and making sure he's pitching. I believe he threw on Friday (at the Phillies' reserve camp in Lehigh Valley). He made a start there and threw the ball pretty well, which is obviously encouraging. But as far as a date of calling him up, we have not come to a conclusion on that."
Having pitched on Friday, Howard would be on full rest Wednesday.
Up and back
The Phillies began their day with COVID-19 saliva testing then hit the road for New York at about 11:30 a.m. They took five buses (for social distancing reasons) to Yankee Stadium and arrived at about 1:30 p.m. The plan was to check into a hotel after the game, but that plan was scrubbed when Tuesday night's game was postponed. The Phils bused home after the game.