Four … three … two …
Good thing the Phillies aren’t scheduled to play Thursday night or they might get one hit.
The Phils capped off three pathetic offensive performances in as many nights by being two-hit in a 2-1 loss to the Washington Nationals on Wednesday night at Citizens Bank Park (see Instant Replay).
The Phils were swept in the three-game series and they wasted three solid starts from Jake Thompson, Jerad Eickhoff and Adam Morgan as they were held to four, three and two hits, respectively, in the three games.
Stay tuned Friday night to see if the Phils get one-hit by the Braves.
The National League East-leading Nationals have beaten the Phillies nine straight games since May.
The Phillies’ woeful showing at the plate in the series dropped their team batting average to .238, second-worst in the majors. Their on-base percentage is .296, worst in the majors.
“Nine hits in a three-game series just isn’t going to cut it,” manager Pete Mackanin said after Wednesday night’s loss, the Phillies’ seventh in the last nine games. "We’re not hitting the ball. We need more offense.”
It’s going to be interesting to see how general manager Matt Klentak addresses that in the offseason. The Phils have the money to add free agents, but the team is committed to building from within and using the free-agent market to find a finishing piece or two. The way things are right now, the Phils aren’t close enough to being good where a finishing piece would make a huge difference. They need some of the players that are here now – at least the ones that are staying – to make improvements and some of the talent that is in the minors to get to the majors and start making a difference before they’re ready for that put-them-over-the-top free agent.
The Phils were within striking distance to turn Wednesday’s game around. Cesar Hernandez walked in a one-run game to lead off the bottom of the ninth. That brought Odubel Herrera, the Phillies’ only All-Star in July, to the plate.
Would Mackanin ask Herrera to move Hernandez into scoring position with a bunt, or give him a shot to shoot one in the gap and possibly score Hernandez from first?
“I thought about bunting Herrera,” Mackanin said. “The fact that we’re not hitting and he’s one of our top average hitters, I decided not to bunt him, took a chance.”
Herrera, who has struggled since the All-Star Game, bounced into a double play on the first pitch he saw from lefty Marc Rzepczynski. Maikel Franco then grounded out to end the game. And the series.
Herrera, who has been doubled-up just twice this season, said he would have bunted if asked. But he was happy to swing away.
“I was ready to hit and do some damage,” he said.
The Phils didn’t do much damage in the series. But the Nationals did. And they did it early. They scored five first-inning runs in the series. Jayson Werth hit first-inning home runs in the first and third games.
Werth’s first-inning bomb Wednesday night was just that – a 453-foot shot into the camera well high above the wall in dead center against Morgan.
Even Werth was impressed with how far he hit the ball.
“I’ve been in some pretty cool places in this ballpark but never there,” he said.
Freddy Galvis tied the game with a homer against Gio Gonzalez in the fifth, but the Nats went ahead in the seventh when they rallied for a two-out run against Morgan. The lefty allowed a two-out double to Anthony Rendon to extend the inning and an RBI single to Wilson Ramos on a full-count pitch.
“I’ve got to be able to finish,” Morgan said.
Morgan did have the best of his 16 starts in the majors this season, giving up just the two runs and three hits. He enjoyed working with new catcher A.J. Ellis and Mackanin said he liked the way Ellis called the game.
Morgan pitched well enough that he could have had a different fate. The same could be said for Thompson and Eickhoff the previous two nights.
Four hits. Three hits. Two hits.
As Mackanin said, “Nine hits in a three-game series just isn’t going to cut it.”