May 03, 2023
It was going to be a tough task for the Phillies (15-17) to pull off five-straight series wins when facing a Dodgers that won 111 games last season. They faltered, dropping all three games at Chavez Ravine, each loss even more demoralizing than the previous one.
On Monday and Tuesday, the Phillies got shellacked, allowing 13 runs in each game and 32 combined hits. Disastrous! In the series finale on Wednesday they had an archetypal collapse, blowing a 5-0 lead and, with innumerable mistakes in between, that culminated in a walk-off grand slam from Max Muncy in a 10-6 loss.
Wednesday should've ended things on a good note in L.A. with Bryce Harper turning in a great day at the plate and optimism before coming home to Citizens Bank Park this weekend.
Alas, things are not that simple in the Phillies' world.
As we do, here are five awards from the series that was...
This is the most clear-cut baseball analysis I will ever provide on this website... if you allow 26 runs across two nights, you're not going to be winning many baseball games and you're going to be seeing an empty stadium in South Philadelphia by the time Eagles training camp rolls around.
Righty Taijuan Walker was the worst offender of the bunch in L.A., allowing eight runs in fewer than four innings of work on Monday. After the Fightins signed him to a contract worth $72 million over four years this past offseason, Walker has a 6.91 ERA in six starts. Yes, it's only early May, but Phillies fans are well within their right to be concerned about what they're seeing with Walker.
This rotation has big-name players at the top with Zack Wheeler and Aaron Nola, who while rebounding a bit as of late, haven't completely lived up to their reputation and past performance so far in 2023. After that? You have makeshift starter Matt Strahm surprising some, but he allowed four runs over 3.1 innings on Tuesday and may be headed back to the bullpen soon. Walker's been lit up. Bailey Falter's ERA is 5.01.
The injuries to Andrew Painter and Ranger Suárez looms large over this pitching staff.
Due to how disastrous the rotation was earlier this week, the Phillies had to call upon a position player to take the mound so they didn't waste their bullpen arms. Kody Clemens was put into a situation where most guys are set up for failure on both Monday and Tuesday.
On Monday, he pitched 0.2 innings, allowing one walk while actually striking out a batter and surrendering no runs and no hits.
Kody Clemens FILTH pic.twitter.com/wgrq1KkGdn— Talkin’ Baseball (@TalkinBaseball_) May 2, 2023
On Tuesday, he pitched just a third of an inning, allowing three hits and a run.
A valiant effort certainly, but as the son of seven-time Cy Young Award winner Roger Clemens, I can see why Clemens is a corner infielder and not a pitcher.
Wilson Valdez's reign as the greatest fill-in position player pitcher in franchise history is safe for now.
After an improbably quick return from Tommy John surgery, Harper was back in the Phillies' lineup on Tuesday night. In his 2023 debut, he went 0-for-4 with three strikeouts. That's some understandable rust for a guy who hasn't played a real baseball game since Game 6 of the World Series last November.
He looked like his MVP self, however, on Wednesday.
Harper walked his first at-bat before ripping a double in the third inning:
SO BACK.— NBC Sports Philadelphia (@NBCSPhilly) May 3, 2023
Bryce Harper's first hit of the 2023 regular season is a double: pic.twitter.com/m3UBJnduCe
Nick Castellanos would drive him in with an RBI double shortly later.
In the top of the fourth, he singled on a changeup off Dodgers hurler Gavin Stone, the No. 56 ranked prospect in baseball coming into this year, who was making his major league debut.
He walked again after leading off the the seventh inning.
With the Phillies down 6-5, Harper singled to left field in the top of the ninth, giving the team a spark. Following a Castellanos walk, Bryson Stott drove Harper in, giving the Phillies life and extending the ballgame (the bottom of the ninth, of course, didn't go well).
Even with the sweep and humiliating series finale loss, I expect an electric atmosphere when Harper gets back in the batter's box on Friday night at CBP.
BARNESY! pic.twitter.com/mbnkTDNRRA— Los Angeles Dodgers (@Dodgers) May 3, 2023
GRAND SLAM. WALK-OFF. MAX MUNCY. pic.twitter.com/50ekZiteYI— Los Angeles Dodgers (@Dodgers) May 3, 2023
What a week for Philly vs. Boston. The Sixers stole a win in Game 1 of their Eastern Conference Semifinals matchup with the Celtics on Monday. They have a chance to do the unthinkable and go up 2-0 on the road on Wednesday night with league MVP Joel Embiid "on track" to be back out there. At worst, the Sixers are coming home at 1-1 for two weekend games on Friday and Sunday in possession of home-court advantage.
Across Pattison Avenue, the Phillies host the Red Sox for a three-game set. As I mentioned, it will be Bryce Harper's first game at Citizen Bank Park since Game 5 of the World Series. No one in their life will have ever been more happy to hear Moby than Phillies fans when Harper walks up to the plate in the first inning.
The Red Sox, sitting at 17-14 as of this writing, are fourth in the American League East standings, but every team in that division has a winning record currently. Tough competition, but things have been a little off with this franchise since winning the 2018 World Series and foolishly trading away Mookie Betts after the 2019 season.
I went to a college with an assortment of terrible people from New England. Coupling that with having watched the Patriots' dynasty for nearly two decades, I'm understandably not the biggest fan of the Boston sports scene. I reached out to one friend from Massachusetts to sum up the current state of the Sox. He replied, "They're still charging Boston prices for a Kansas City Royals product."
It must be harding watching your baseball team win four championships in the last 20 years. The horror!
To be fair, this guy's had a rough go of it of late. He watched the Boston Bruins, after posting the best record in NHL history, lose Game 7 to the Maple Leafs in person in the first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs. As a very vocal James Harden hater, he also witnessed Harden's 45-point thriller on Monday at TD Garden. Sad!
Anyway, here are the probable pitchers for this weekend's series:
|Fri., 5/5, 7:05 p.m.||Zack Wheeler (R)||Chris Sale (L)|
|Sat., 5/6, 7:15 p.m.||Bailey Falter (L)||Corey Kluber (R)|
|Sun., 5/7, 1:35 p.m.||Taijuan Walker (R)||Tanner Houck (R)|
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