SAN FRANCISCO — It would be rude to dub these Phillies as unwatchable because the franchise has existed for 135 seasons and has lost more games than every other professional sports team in America. They have achieved unwatchable status for much worse ineptitude than this. These Phillies were designed to fail and harbored no great expectations — it’s just that they have done it in such spectacular fashion.
After a 10-2 loss Friday night, the Phillies accomplished something only 15 of the 134 versions before them did: They lost at least 77 of their first 120 games. They are on pace for 104 losses, which would be the most for a Phillies team since 1961, and no one can be blamed for losing track of the day-to-day happenings.
But the youngest roster in baseball must keep playing. They have lost six straight, five of which have come at the hands of San Diego and San Francisco, two of the league’s worst. They mustered two runs on two hits against Matt Moore, who owned the worst ERA among qualified starters in baseball.
“It’s frustrating when you look up at the numbers and you see that,” Phillies manager Pete Mackanin said. “You kind of hope we can get to the guy. But for whatever reason the bats are just silent right now.”
Zach Eflin threw his first 10 pitches Friday night and trailed by three runs. He lasted five innings and exited with soreness in his right shoulder. The 23-year-old righthander will be examined Saturday.
The shoulder bothered him all game. He said the decision to leave the game was “precautionary.”
“I’ve had some soreness back there before but not really like this,” Eflin said. “This is a little different than I’ve had before. So, sleep on it, come in tomorrow and see how it feels.”
Eflin enjoyed moments of brilliance last season. This season is a lost one. He owns a 6.16 ERA. His two knee surgeries during the winter were supposed to provide resolution, a chance to pitch every fifth day without pain.
His stuff appeared pedestrian Friday against the light-hitting Giants. They swung and missed at just four of Eflin’s 85 pitches. Luis Garcia, who replaced Eflin, generated four whiffs in his 12 pitches.
Eflin was up in the strike zone. San Francisco punished him. Hunter Pence and Brandon Crawford slugged home runs. Pablo Sandoval, deemed useless in Boston, delivered a run-scoring single in the first inning and scored another run in the third inning after he walked.
“Eflin didn’t have command of his secondary stuff, nor did he have good command of his fastball,” Mackanin said. “He really just didn’t pitch well. We’ve seen him much better.”
Right now, the whole thing is somewhat of a mess. The Phillies anticipated tough times. This has crept beyond that. They are using players out of position and relying on an inexperienced staff of pitchers. Hamstring injuries to their two best hitters, Odubel Herrera and Aaron Altherr, have compromised them.
Maikel Franco swings at almost every first pitch. Tommy Joseph often hits into a double play. There is no one in the current lineup that provides a dependable at-bat on a consistent basis; all of the players are unestablished in the majors.
That does not preclude them from promise. It just comes with caveats. Rhys Hoskins looks like he has a tremendous idea of what to do at the plate. He walked two more times Friday. But he is playing out of position, in left field, and misjudged a liner hit right at him that fell as a double for Buster Posey.
Jorge Alfaro, the rookie catcher, collected two more singles. He has eight hits in 19 at-bats this season and has not looked overmatched at the plate. But, on defense, he is far from a finished product — that is why the Phillies will limit his exposure.
So, every night, they hunt for the silver linings. That is a painstaking endeavor.