If the Phillies fall in an empty stadium, does it make a sound? Sure does. That was definitely a thud you heard after the Phillies offense was marked absent again in a 3-1 loss Monday to last-place Miami at Marlins Stadium. They managed just four hits and a single run, on a second-inning home run by Asdrubal Cabrera. It was a missed opportunity to gain ground on the Atlanta Braves, who lost at home, 8-2, to the Boston Red Sox. If the Phillies do not win the next two against Miami, their season could be swimming with those fish in the Marlins Stadium tanks behind home plate.
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Phillies manager Gabe Kapler has not used the same batting order in consecutive games since Aug. 6-7, and Monday in Miami, he left arguably his best hitter, Rhys Hoskins, out of the lineup for the first time since June 8.
"I'm not sure consistency of a lineup leads to good results all the time," Kapler said. "You look at some of the lineups that have been mixing and matching across baseball, a lot of them — the ones that have been mixed up most — are the ones that have been most successful."
Kapler has used 113 different lineups this season, which ranks ninth in the National League among different combinations. The Cubs had used 125 lineups through Sunday and were first in the league in runs per game, and the Dodgers had used a league-high 133 and were third in the league in runs per game. The Phillies rank 11th in the NL in runs per game.
The Phillies' biggest problem right now is that most of their lineup has gone cold. Here's a look at some individual batting averages during the team's 4-11 stretch that has left them four games behind the Braves:
Phillies bats remained silent in their 3-1 loss to the Marlins, but their optimism remained intact, thanks to Atlanta's loss to Boston. "We have a ton of confidence," manager Gabe Kapler said. "It's not the last day of the season."
Maikel Franco was not in the starting lineup for the second straight game and the third time in four games. Kapler revealed before Monday's game that the third baseman has been dealing with a right wrist injury for the past week that he suffered during the Phillies series in Toronto. X-rays Sunday were negative. Franco is hitless in his last 16 at-bats.
Despite the fact the Phillies are in a must-win situation in every game right now, left fielder Rhys Hoskins was not in the Philies' starting Labor Day lineup. "We have ridden Rhys really hard. We have not given him any days off in a long time," Kapler said. "We anticipate that we may not give him another day off for the entire season, so we're looking for the spot to give him that one little rest."
Tonight: Jake Arrieta vs. Trevor Richards, 7:10 p.m.
Tomorrow: Nick Pivetta vs. Sandy Alcantara, 7:10 p.m.
Thursday: Off day
Friday: Zach Eflin opens series vs. N.Y. Mets at Citi Field, 7:10 p.m.
Saturday: Aaron Nola vs. Noah Syndergaard, 7:10 p.m.
Sometimes it's fun to look at miscellaneous statistics, and this is one of my favorite pages on the brilliant BaseballReference.com site. It reveals average time of game, average attendance, average age, and success of team challenges. For the record, the Phillies' average length of game is 3 hours, 11 minutes, tied for the second longest in baseball with Boston and Minnesota. Only the Dodgers — at 3:13 — are taking longer.
I maintain that's a horrible statistic to lead the league in, but only four teams are averaging less than three hours per game this season. Twenty years ago, only two teams averaged games that lasted more than three hours.
I have not gone back and checked the actual stats, but I have a gut feeling that the Phillies have had a worse record since the acquisition of the new players than before. Additions such as Cabrera and Ramos are great stat wise, but I think Kapler had a band of brothers much like the Eagles originally, and now that spirit seems to be missing. What does our expert say?
Thanks, Everett S., via email