SAN DIEGO — All things considered, it was probably the worst game that the Phillies have played all season.
With a victory Sunday, the Phillies would have headed home with a .500 record on this six-game Western trip. They would have maintained their lead in the National League East. And they would have won their 66th game, matching their total from all of last season in 45 fewer games.
But none of that happened. Instead, the Phillies played substandard defense, blundered on the bases, got two hits through the first seven innings, and were humbled, 9-3, by the San Diego Padres, on a grand slam by Freddy Galvis, the light-hitting shortstop whom they traded in the offseason.
“We didn’t execute the fundamentals today. That’s on me,” manager Gabe Kapler said sternly after the Phillies slipped back into a first-place tie with the Atlanta Braves. “I have to do a better job of getting us prepared to play and to execute the fundamentals of this game.”
The Phillies completed the road trip with a 2-4 record after dropping two of three games to both the Arizona Diamondbacks and the Padres. They flew home to face the best-in-the-majors Boston Red Sox on Tuesday night at Citizens Bank Park.
And while there’s no shame in losing a series on the road to the playoff-caliber Diamondbacks, the Padres possess the worst record in the National League and started a rookie pitcher in each of the three games. They also are the third non-contending team to take a series from the visiting Phillies within the last month. The Phils lost two of three games in Miami on July 13-15 and three out of four in Cincinnati on July 26-29.
“It just overall wasn’t a great series for us,” pitcher Jake Arrieta said.
And then there was the way the Phillies lost on Sunday.
Start here: The Padres stole six bases, the most allowed by the Phillies since the Red Sox swiped six on June 17, 2008. Travis Jankowski, a reserve outfielder, stole four of them, more than any player against the Phillies since then-Red Sox leadoff man Jacoby Ellsbury stole five on May 30, 2013.
The Phillies were charged with two errors, a throw by third baseman Maikel Franco that sailed wide of home plate in the seventh inning and a misfired throw to first base by reliever Austin Davis that allowed another run to score in the eighth. But they failed to make a handful of other plays in a manner consistent with their minus-73 defensive runs saved, the third-worst mark in the majors.
None was more costly than Eric Hosmer’s 35-foot tapper between home plate and the mound in the third inning. Catcher Jorge Alfaro and Arrieta both went after the ball, but neither took charge, allowing Hosmer to reach base.
“Jorge is awesome on that play,” Arrieta said. “From my perspective, it looked like he was letting me get it, so that’s why I went at it. I didn’t say anything to him, so he probably thought I was going to let him take it because he usually does. Just miscommunication on my part.”
Arrieta retired the next two batters but issued a four-pitch walk to Austin Hedges to load the bases. Arrieta got ahead of Galvis before throwing a sinker in a 2-2 count that Galvis cranked for his first career grand slam.
The Phillies traded Galvis, a slick-fielding shortstop who tends to roll over too many ground balls to fit their offensive style, for pitching prospect Enyel De Los Santos. And although Galvis is having another substandard offensive season (he entered play Sunday with a .641 OPS), he was 10-for-22 with nine RBIs in six games against the Phillies this season.
“Good one, huh?” Galvis said. “No, I treat those guys like any other team. Play hard, play ball, that’s it.”
It was 5-0 when Franco got thrown out at second base trying to stretch a double in the fifth inning. And it was 6-0 in the eighth when the offense finally awoke for three runs.
Kapler wasn’t sure why the Phillies were so sloppy — “It’s something that takes some time after a game to dig into each play individually,” he said — but if it was anything more than a one-game lapse, the manager will surely like to address it.
“There’s no rhyme or reason,” Arrieta said. “It’s just something that can happen. When multiple things happen over the course of one game, it just doesn’t look great. But I don’t think there’s any reason for that. I think that it just happened, really. Take the off-day, get ready for two tough games against Boston.”
And in the end, they’ll hope they don’t regret losing such a winnable series.