If a baseball team scores a run but it is provided by a solo homer from the pitcher, has the offense really made a sound? The Phillies had a four-hour charter flight from San Francisco to Chicago to figure out that little riddle Sunday night. The answer, by the way, is no way. The Giants, after being swept in a four-game series by the Phillies last month at Citizens Bank Park, returned the favor with a three-game sweep at AT&T Park by outscoring the Phillies by 12-1 over the weekend. The Phillies' only run of the weekend came in Sunday's 6-1 loss when Jake Arrieta homered off Dereck "Son of Pudge" Rodriguez in the third inning.
Arrieta, visibly disturbed as he ripped off his game jersey before retreating to the visiting clubhouse Sunday, voiced his displeasure afterward with the Phillies' failed shifts on defense. The Phils batted .160 (15 for 94) and went 0 for 17 with runners in scoring position during the series. They have Monday off before beginning the last leg of their 10-game road trip Tuesday night against the Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field.
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After Sunday's loss, with his team in the midst of a mighty struggle at home plate, manager Gabe Kapler praised first baseman Carlos Santana's ability to work the pitcher at the plate.
"First and foremost, we got a good example of how to take Phillie-style at-bats with some of Santana's at-bats," Kapler said. "They were longer at-bats. They looked like at-bats we were taking three weeks ago where we were taking pitches, seeing pitches and fouling off pitches. We were working deeper counts and putting the ball in play."
Santana went 1 for 1 with three walks and saw 19 pitches Sunday. All that is really nice, but you can't give him credit for leading by example on a day when his lack of hustle cost the Phillies a first-inning run.
With two outs in the first, Santana hit a high pop fly that fell just inside the left-field foul line for what should have been a double. Instead, he stood at home plate and watched the ball and had to settle for a single. It became even more noteworthy when Nick Williams followed with a bloop single that would have scored Santana and stopped a scoreless streak at 20 innings. Instead, that streak didn't end until Arrieta hit his sixth career home run in the third.
Sorry, if I'm the manager, there are no compliments for Santana even if he saw 100 pitches and single-handedly forced the opposing pitcher from the game.
"Carlos has among the biggest hearts in this clubhouse," Kapler said. "He works as hard as anybody, and he brings it every day. I think he thought the ball was going to be foul. Independent of that, our job is to bust out of the box every single time [whether] we think it's going to be a foul ball or not. In this case, I think we give a guy who works his butt off the benefit of the doubt."
A lack of thinking is just as bad as a lack of hustle.
Despite his costly play and the team's third straight game without a position player producing a run, Carlos Santana insisted the Phillies' offense will rebound from its recent struggles.
Scott Kingery has played well defensively at shortstop in the absence of disabled starter J.P. Crawford, but his role as a roving player in the field figures to resume soon. Crawford has gone 4 for 10 with a home run in the last two games of his rehab assignment at high-A Clearwater and should be returning to the Phillies lineup soon.
The Phillies have the third pick of the first round today. The team's first-round picks from the past three years are still struggling in double and high A, but amateur scouting director Johnny Almaraz isn't worried about his ability to find talent.
Which prospects can you expect the Phillies to consider drafting with that No. 3 pick? I think Brady Singer, a pitcher out of Florida, is a smart choice.
The Phillies played in front of some big crowds in Los Angeles and San Francisco during the first two legs of their 10-game road trip, and they figure to play in front of some more when they open a series against the Chicago Cubs on Tuesday night in Wrigley Field. Attendance is up slightly at Citizens Bank Park, but the improved Phillies are still only 18th in that department so far this season.
Today: Off day
Tomorrow: Zach Eflin pitches series opener vs. Cubs, 8:05 p.m.
Wednesday: Aaron Nola vs. Jose Quintana, 8:05 p.m.
Thursday: Nick Pivetta vs. Tyler Chatwood, 2:20 p.m.
Friday: Phillies return home for series against first-place Milwaukee, 7:05 p.m.
The loss of Rhys Hoskins has obviously hurt the offense, but perhaps an even greater loss over the last two weeks has been the bat of center fielder Odubel Herrera. Since his average topped out at .361 after a two-hit game May 17 in St. Louis, Herrera has batted .175 (11 for 63) with a .200 on-base percentage in his last 16 games. During that stretch, he has just four extra-base hits and one walk and has struck out 17 times. His average has slipped to .305, and he is now 10th in the National League in that department.
With our crazy world of wars … my question is about Venezuela baseball. Is there still a concept of baseball in a country where there is not enough food or medicine for the people? Can quality baseball still be played there? I mean quality baseball with scouts from America looking for prospects? Also, the Venezuela players here in the States, can they get their families out of that country and moved to the States?
Marty, S., via email
Answer: Thanks for a very interesting and unique question, Marty. The answer is yes, they are still playing baseball in Venezuela that is being evaluated by scouts. Even with all the political turmoil in the country, the Phillies have maintained a strong scouting presence in Venezuela. Unfortunately the safety risks forced the Venezuelan Summer League to shut down before the 2016 season and the Phillies reacted by starting a second team in the Dominican Summer League as well as a second Gulf Coast League team — both are hot spots for young Latin players, including players signed out of Venezuela.