SAN DIEGO — Message to Justin Bour:
The Phillies’ offense needs a bat.
See you Saturday night.
A difficult trip through the West continued Friday night for the Phillies as they were shut out, 2-0, by the worst team in the National League and a rookie pitcher making his big-league debut and just his second start above the Double A level (see first take).
Props to Jacob Nix for not breaking when the Phillies had him on the ropes in the first and second innings. The Phillies left five runners on base in those two innings and it set a tone for the evening. The Phils had lots of chances but did nothing with them. They were 1 for 9 with runners in scoring position and four games into a six-game road trip are 3 for 29 in those situations.
The Phils have been shut out two straight games and have just 12 hits over that span. Only one of the hits has been for extra bases. Their scoreless drought is at 19 innings and they are 1-3 on the trip.
The Phils got the first two batters on base in the seventh and ninth innings in this latest loss. Both times they came away with two strikeouts and a ground ball back to the pitcher.
Are the lads pressing a little?
“I see it more as kind of the ebbs and flows of a Major League Baseball season from an offensive perspective,” manager Gabe Kapler said. “I have said that a lot. And the reason I say it is because sometimes we see three or four games in a row where we have trouble driving in runs. We have trouble hitting with runners in scoring position. We have trouble getting rallies going and having big innings. Then we see stretches where we do. So I just don’t want to get too caught up in a three-, four-, five-game stretch.”
On Saturday night, Bour, acquired Friday to provide some pop off the bench, will be around to lend some help late in the game. He will join a team that has been in first place since July 6. But the Phillies now share that spot with Atlanta, which won its game at Milwaukee on Friday night.
The Phillies will send their best pitcher, Aaron Nola, to the mound Saturday night against a rookie pitcher (Walker Lockett) with a 9.28 ERA.
“We feel confident that Nola is going to keep us in the game,” Kapler said. “Our job is also to put some rallies together and to back him up by scoring some runs for him. That sort of thing doesn’t happen just because you want it to. Sometimes it happens and sometimes you’re not able to string those hits together. I believe strongly that this group is going to have more games than not where they string hits together, where we have big rallies, where we score in big innings and where we put teams away.”
The Phillies did not do that Friday night against the 22-year-old Nix.
“We did have him on the ropes,” Kapler admitted. “We did have him on the ropes and we let him off the hook. We can do a better job of stepping on guys when we have the opportunity to.”
For the second time on the trip, the Phils wasted a strong start. Jake Arrieta pitched eight scoreless innings in what ended up as a 14-inning loss Monday night in Arizona.
In this one, Zach Eflin pitched six innings of two-run ball against the team that originally drafted him in 2012. The right-hander struck out eight and issued just one walk, which was intentional.
Austin Hedges singled against Eflin with one out in the second, stole second and scored on a two-out hit by Freddy Galvis. Eflin could not put away Galvis as the former Phillie stroked a full-count fastball (95 mph) up the middle for the first run of the game. Galvis is 8 for 14 with five RBIs against his former club this season.
In the fourth inning, Hedges drove a 1-2 fastball from Eflin over the center-field wall to give the Padres a 2-0 lead. Eflin tried to ride a high fastball by Hedges, but he didn’t get the pitch up enough and didn’t throw it with enough conviction (see highlights).
“That was probably the most upsetting pitch I had,” Eflin said. “It was almost like I took a little bit off it because I wanted to put it exactly where I wanted to instead of raring back and firing it, so that one kind of punched me in the gut. I wasn’t happy about that. It needed to be up a little more and have more velo. I just kind of gave in and gave him a pitch to hit.”
Rhys Hoskins hit a couple of balls hard early in the game, but is 0 for his last 20 and the Phillies really miss his production.
“It’s tough,” Hoskins said. “I think we’ve had some hard-hit balls that have been right at people. A lot in Arizona. We had a lot of hard-hit balls tonight, too. The three outs in the first inning were barrels.
“Sometimes you go through stretches like this. It happened in early June. Obviously you hope to limit them, but it’s the game of baseball, man. These things happen. I don’t think we’re pressing. I think we’re having pretty good at-bats. The results just aren’t there.”