Philadelphia Phillies

Phillies Vs. Rangers: Zack Wheeler's Gem Wasted in Another Phils Loss

Offense was supposed to be the Phillies strength this season. Through 25 games, it hasn't shaken out that way.

Offense is a no-show as Phillies waste a gem by Zack Wheeler originally appeared on NBC Sports Philadelphia

Unable to generate offense, the Phillies wasted a brilliant pitching performance from Zack Wheeler on their way to being swept in a two-game series by the Texas Rangers at Citizens Bank Park on Wednesday night.

The Phillies were 2-1 losers to the Rangers in 10 innings. Brad Miller, the former Phillie, broke a scoreless tie with a two-run single against Brad Hand with two outs in the top of the 10th inning.

The loss was the Phillies’ third in a row, dropping them to a disappointing 11-14 on the season. They have won just two of eight series.

Texas is 10-14.

Offense was supposed to be the Phillies’ strength this season. Through 25 games, it hasn’t shaken out that way. They have been shut out three times and held to one run four times. They were shut out through nine innings in this game. Their run came on a groundout in the 10th after having a runner open the frame at second base.

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The Phils had just six hits in this game, one for extra bases. They were 0 for 5 with runners in scoring position in the first nine innings.

Wheeler pitched brilliantly for the Phillies. He did not allow a run over 7 2/3 scoreless innings. He scattered six hits, two of which were infield hits and another which was a blooper, walked one and struck out seven.

The right-hander was in full cruise control at 78 pitches when manager Joe Girardi popped out of the dugout with two outs in the top of the eighth.

Girardi had a purpose in his step, like he intended to remove Wheeler, and the home crowd of 21,315 did not like it.

A cry of “No … No … No …,” rose from the seats. 

Girardi reached the mound and raised his left arm, a signal for lefty reliever Jose Alvarado. The crowd booed. It booed again after Girardi handed Alvarado the ball and walked back to the dugout.

Power-armed but erratic, Alvarado can often be an adventure, but this time he wasn’t. He retired lefty-hitting Nathaniel Lowe on a line drive to first base on the first pitch he threw.

Girardi’s lefty-on-lefty strategy worked.

Wheeler had his best fastball of the season. It was up to 97.5 mph and averaged 96.2. Of his 78 pitches, he got 16 swings and misses, 11 on his four-seam fastball.

The right-hander has had two strong efforts in as many starts. He pitched six shutout innings and allowed just one hit against the Rockies his previous time out. In his last two starts, he has pitched 13 2/3 scoreless innings.

In this one, Wheeler and Texas lefty Martin Perez hooked up in a fast-moving pitchers’ duel. Perez held the Phillies to just four hits over seven shutout innings. He walked four and struck out four.

One night after making two errors that contributed to a 6-4 loss, third baseman Alec Bohm made the game’s standout defensive play to end the top of the seventh and keep the game scoreless.

The Rangers used a leadoff walk and a one-out bloop hit to left to put runners on the corners. Lefty-hitting Zack Reks lofted a high pop up down the left field line. Three Phillies — Bohm, shortstop Didi Gregorius and left fielder Kyle Schwarber — converged on the ball and Bohm made the catch with his back toward home plate.

In a 0-0 game, the Rangers took a chance on the bases and Adolis Garcia tagged and broke for home. Bohm saw Garcia head home and threw a perfect one-hop strike to J.T. Realmuto to complete a double play.

That defensive inning was eventful for the Phillies. Garcia had gone to third on a bloop hit by Mitch Garver. The hit fell in between Schwarber and Gregorius and both players ended up on the ground and were tended to by a team athletic trainer. As he fell to the ground, Gregorius inadvertently kicked Schwarber in the back of the head. Both players checked out fine and had an up-close view of Bohm’s run-saving play.

The Phillies open a four-game series with the New York Mets on Thursday night. Aaron Nola will pitch against Taijuan Walker. The Phillies have lost four of six to the Mets this season.

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