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April 05, 2017

Phillies bats go cold in 2-0 defeat in Cincinnati

CINCINNATI – It probably wasn’t the idea of sitting through a pregame rain delay with an early start on get-away day followed by another matinee in Philadelphia within the span of 72 hours that made the Phillies offense look like it was in a hurry on Wednesday night, but it sure looked that way for a while.

After Maikel Franco tried to keep a first-inning rally alive with a two-out single, the Phils’ bats went colder than Doc Brown’s Delorean with Einstein in the driver’s seat.

From the time Tommy Joseph ended the first inning with a fly out to Joseph ending the seventh with a strikeout, Cincinnati Reds left-hander sent down 19 straight batters. He set the tone early by recording strikeouts on four of the first five during that run.

Jerad Eickhoff was nearly as dominant. Four of his first six frames were perfect and the only thing standing in the way of a fifth was an infield single that would quickly be erased with a double play.

Fast-paced games like Wednesday nights are often one on the swing of one bat and the best player in the ballpark didn’t disappoint Cincinnatians in the first night game of their 2017 season.

Joey Votto ripped the second pitch of the seventh inning, a curveball from Eickhoff, into the seats beyond the fence in right-center to end a scoreless tie and guide the Reds to a 2-0 win over the Phillies.

The Phillies nearly had as many baserunners in the first inning (two) as they had in the eight innings that followed (three).

"Like any pitcher, (Finnegan) relies on command and he didn’t seem to have it early in the game," Mackanin said. "I think we had 25 pitches in that first inning. I thought we were going to set the tone of the game but then he settled down after that. We just couldn’t do anything against the guy. I credit him to a well-pitched game."

The Phillies' offense finally broke it's cold streak in the eighth inning when Aaron Altherr and Cameron Rupp reached on back-to-back infield singles. But that was just about all the Phils could muster after the first inning – infield singles.

Odubel Herrera collected one of his own in the ninth but was stranded on second when Joseph (0-for-4, three strikeouts) struck out to end the game.

Weather permitting, the Phils (1-1) will send Clay Buchholz to the mound on Thursday afternoon (12:35 p.m.) start for the rubber game of the season’s inaugural series. The Phillies return home to Citizens Bank Park for the first time on Friday, when it’ll be Vince Velasquez opposite Max Scherzer* for a 3:05 p.m. start in South Philly.

The start of Wednesday night’s game was delayed by 50 minutes when a thunderstorm rolled through Cincinnati.

*Scherzer is on tap to start, but the Washington Nationals haven't officially announced their starters for the upcoming series.

Running Wild

Wednesday night's game actually ended twice – when Tommy Joseph struck out and about two minutes prior, when Odubel Herrera, for some odd reason, decided to try to steal second base with two outs and the tying run in the form of Joseph at the plate. 

Herrera was called out, temporarily ending the game before a replay review overturned the call. But what exactly was he doing running in that situation?

"He made it," an obviously perturbed Mackanin said. "He made it."

Did anyone tell him that's not a situation any base runner should ever be running in?

"I'll talk to him," Mackanin said. "He made it. That's all I'm going to say."

A Little Help from his Friends?

Jerad Eickhoff set down seven straight batters to begin his first start of the 2017 season. He struck out six, walked one, and was in control until the seventh.

Eickhoff gave the Phillies every chance to start a season 2-0 for the first time since 2011. But a familiar theme followed the pitcher into his third major league season: paltry run support.

Since making his major league debut in August of 2015, Eickhoff has been given one run or zero runs of support in 18 of his 42 starts. Quick math: that's 43 percent of the games he's pitched in a Phillies uniform. 

"I can't control that," Eickhoff said. "Those guys are busting their butts. They're working their butts off every day to get hits and to work in the cage. I can't control it. I'm trying to get outs. When I walk off the mound hopefully I've kept us in the game."

The 18 games of one or zero runs of support rank as the second-most in the major leagues since he made his MLB debut.

Most Starts with 0 or 1 run of support since August 21, 2015:

 Michael Pineda 20 
 Jerad Eickhoff18 
Edinson Volquez 18 
 Kevin Gausman 17
 Yordano Ventura17 
 Gio Gonzalez16 
 James Shields16 
 Julio Teheran16 

Follow Ryan on Twitter: @ryanlawrence21

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