For Jesmuel Valentin, it was a night to remember.
For everyone else on the Phillies, not so much.
The Phils continue to have trouble stringing together a run of victories. Their modest two-game winning streak came to an end Wednesday night when they ran into a warming Colorado Rockies’ offense and a sharp left-handed pitcher.
The Rockies clubbed the Phillies and starter Nick Pivetta, 7-2, on the strength of 11 hits and seven innings of one-run ball from Tyler Anderson (see first take). The victory snapped a five-game losing skid for the Rockies heading into the rubber game of the series Thursday afternoon. The Phillies have not won a series since taking two of three from the Braves on May 21-23.
Offense continues to be a major problem for the Phillies. They had seven hits Thursday night but three of them – two doubles and a homer – came from rookie reserve Valentin, who started in right field as Gabe Kapler juggled his outfield to get badly slumping Odubel Herrera a night off.
While the rookie Valentin shined, the team’s feature rookie, Scott Kingery, struggled. One night after belting a big three-run homer in the first inning, he batted third and struck out four times to fall to .211.
The Phillies have played 16 games since they were nine games over .500 and spent one day in first place in the National League East. Since then, they are 5-11. They are hitting .201 with a .281 on-base percentage and are averaging just 3.1 runs per game over that span.
“There’s no disputing that our offense is not clicking,” manager Gabe Kapler said. “It’s very clear that we’re not getting a lot of hits. It’s very clear that we’re not scoring a lot of runs. It’s very clear that earlier in the season we were working deeper counts. We were just having better all-around at-bats.
“I don’t know if me getting frustrated will be helpful for our hitters. I’m not going to display frustration to them. I’m certainly riding this with them. I’m right by their side as are all of our coaches and we’re going to continue to work to put them into a position to succeed, create good matchups for them, make adjustments with them, identify the weakness in the opposing pitchers.”
Pivetta did not pitch well for the Phillies. He gave up a run in the first inning and five in the fourth. The Rockies have some thunder in their lineup and they love fastballs. Pivetta needed to make some pitches with his off-speed stuff, but his curveball was not sharp. He gave up an RBI double to Trevor Story and a two-run home run to Ian Desmond in that fourth inning. Both of those big hits came on curveballs up in the zone.
“He didn’t have his breaking-ball command tonight,” Kapler said. “That was the major issue. It was difficult for him to locate his off-speed pitches.”
“I got behind in counts and didn’t execute pitches,” Pivetta said. “They’re a good hitting club and took advantage.
“It’s a disappointing loss. I’ll take that one. It’s unacceptable giving up five runs in the fourth inning. You need to able to limit that inning as much as possible.”
Pivetta opened the season with a 3.26 ERA in his first 11 starts. He has given up 13 earned runs in 14 innings over his last three starts.
“I need to lock back in,” the 25-year-old pitcher said.
Pivetta has had more ups than downs this season. Kapler is willing to be patient with him.
“He’s a young, developing pitcher,” Kapler said. “He’s going to have his bumps. He’s going to have hiccups along the way. I think this is just an indication of that.”
Fittingly, Pivetta actually did have the hiccups as he spoke with reporters after the game. He could have done without the ones on the mound.