Errors mental and physical, and far too many walks set the Phillies back Sunday in their most lopsided loss of the season, a 13-1 drubbing by the Diamondbacks.
It's not uncommon for a long winning streak to end with this sort of thud after a team expends so much energy playing well for a sustained period. The 30-30 Phillies had won nine in a row, and they did win the series against Arizona, but Sunday was one ugly game.
Ranger Suarez struggled after completing seven innings earlier in the week in Milwaukee. He needed 40 pitches to get through the first inning because of control issues and poor infield defense behind him.
The Phillies trailed from start to finish but had a chance to make it a game in the fifth when, down by three, they loaded the bases with one out on walks by Kyle Schwarber and Rhys Hoskins and an error that allowed Bryce Harper to reach safely.
Nick Castellanos and J.T. Realmuto struck out swinging against right-handed reliever Noé Ramirez to end the inning.
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"It's tough," manager Rob Thomson said. "What did we have, 11 walks and a hit batsman? That's not a recipe for success, that's for sure, so we've got to get better there. But at the end of the day, we won the series and we've got to move on to tomorrow. That's the message to the guys, just move forward, new series coming.
"That's the only way to look at it, as far as I'm concerned. These guys have a lot of pride and care a great deal so they're probably pretty upset right now, but when they show up tomorrow they'll be ready to go."
Castellanos went 0 for 3 with three strikeouts. Over his last 30 games, he's hit .198/.246/.298 and hasn't been able to come through with runners in scoring position. He has consistently extended the zone by swinging at pitches away or low and away. Castellanos has chased non-strikes at a career-worst rate, and he is making less contact than in any season other than the shortened 2020.
"Yeah, man, I haven't been comfortable all year," he said. "But it's only a matter of time, I'll tell you that. It's one of those things where you go through phases where you don't really have a good feeling at the plate, at least for me. Sometimes all it takes is one swing, man, and then it just clicks and starts rolling."
You wonder if he might get a rare day off Monday when the Phillies face electric right-hander Sandy Alcantara. Thomson said he would talk to Castellanos and see how he feels Monday before making any decision.
"I think he's jumping a little bit and when you're scuffling, you try to do too much," Thomson said. "I think that's part of it, too. But he's a really good hitter, he's going to end up putting up some numbers by the end of the year, I'm sure of that."
It was another laborious outing for Suarez, who put men on first and second to start the afternoon when Ketel Marte grounded a ball to Alec Bohm at third base. Bohm fielded it cleanly and was directly next to baserunner Jordan Luplow. The tag was there to be made and perhaps even a double play if Bohm was able to fire to first base quickly enough. But instead of tagging the runner, running to third base or throwing to first, Bohm threw to second too late to retire Josh Rojas.
Given the fact that the Phillies were not holding Rojas on at first, it should have been determined by Bohm ahead of time not to go to second unless there was a definite play there. It almost looked like Bohm's internal clock dictated that he make a decision quickly, and in his haste, he picked the worst of four options.
"I think he thought he had more time to throw the ball to second," Thomson said. "If he knew what was going on behind him, he probably would've just thrown the ball to first base to get the out."
Despite that play loading the bases with nobody out, Suarez and the Phils nearly escaped the first unscathed. After a lineout (on which Bohm chose not to throw to second when he might have doubled the runner off), Suarez induced a weak groundball right back to the mound. A good fielder, Suarez gloved it and made an imperfect but accurate enough throw home to Realmuto to try to begin a 1-2-3, inning-ending double play. Realmuto missed the catch and two runs scored en route to a three-run inning.
There was early bullpen activity with Nick Nelson warming before Suarez even got through the first, but Suarez was able to finish the inning and pitch into the fifth, when he allowed another run and was lifted. Nelson entered and gave up four runs in the sixth as Arizona put the game away, mostly because Nelson and Andrew Bellatti combined for four walks and a hit batter in the inning.
Jose Alvarado was charged with two runs in his first game back from Triple A. He allowed a leadoff single, then walked two batters to load the bases. After starting a 1-2-3 double play of his own, he gave up a two-run single. James Norwood's struggles continued with two more runs in the eighth. Backup catcher Garrett Stubbs pitched the ninth. Phillies pitchers walked 11 on the day and he was the only one not to issue a free pass.
The loss was the first for Thomson, who presided over eight straight wins after Joe Girardi was fired. The Phillies were not the only streaking team in the NL East. The Braves have won 11 in a row and the Marlins had won five straight before losing to Justin Verlander and the Astros Sunday.
The Phils open a three-game series at home against Miami Monday and it will be Aaron Nola (4-4, 3.50) against Alcantara (6-2, 1.61), the best pitcher in the division so far this season.
"We've always kind of thought that this is the club that we are coming out of spring training," Thomson said when asked what he took away from the nine-game streak. "We've just got to dust ourselves off and try again tomorrow."