April 07, 2016
The Phillies are 0-2 on the very young season and most of the talk has been about how the bullpen has managed to spectacularly blow consecutive games at Great American Ball Park this week.
On the first day, David Hernandez didn’t retire any of the three batters he faced in the 8th inning, all three came around to score, and a one-run lead evaporated in minutes. In the second game, Hernandez rebounded with a flawless eighth but Dalier Hinojosa, manager Pete Mackanin’s closer choice to begin the season, allowed hits to four of the five batters he faced in the ninth and another one-run lead turned into a quick, painful defeat.
The last two games marked the first time the Phillies have lost consecutive games when leading after seven innings since June 5-6, 2009, when Brad Lidge blew back-to-back, one-run leads at Dodger Stadium.
But Mackanin made a pretty good and obvious point following the latest loss: “If you score two runs a game, you're not going to win a lot of games.”
Not surprisingly, a sore spot after two games is the complete lack of production the Phillies have received from the outfield. The quartet of Odubel Herrera (1-for-6), Peter Bourjos (0-7), Cedric Hunter (0-for-5) and Tyler Goeddel (0-2) is a combined 1-for-20 with six strikeouts, two walks, and zero extra-base hits.
Again, not exactly a surprise. The outfield has been an area of concern for nearly four years, since the day the team jettisoned Shane Victorino and Hunter Pence on the same day in July of 2012.
No matter how you slice it, the Phillies have scored four runs in 18 innings. Only the Padres (who have been shut out in three straight games to begin the season) and the Angels (one run in two games) have been less productive at the plate.
It’s not something Mackanin was particularly fond of on Wednesday night.
“Not really,” he said. “We swung the bats well in spring training up until the last two games. Now, that lefty (Reds starter Brandon Finnegan) had pretty good stuff. A moving fastball, he had good velocity and made some real good pitches as did (Raisel) Iglesias (Monday). It wasn’t (Zach) Greinke and (Clayton) Kershaw, but both those guys pitched well. I give that lefty a lot of credit.”
In an effort to get his offense going, Mackanin has a different look to his lineup for Thursday’s matinee in Cincinnati: Freddy Galvis is leading off. Cesar Hernandez, who has led off the first two games, is on the bench.
Galvis had a tough spring (12-for-62, .194, 12 strikeouts, zero walks) but his bat has shown some signs of life since the Phillies returned north last week.
“Freddy had a bad spring offensively then the last three or four games he looked much better,” Mackanin said before Wednesday night's game, when Galvis went 1-for-4. “We’ve been trying to convince him to do what he did last year early on. It was like pulling teeth from him. Then finally he started doing it and he got results.
“Even though he hit the home run (Monday) it wasn’t a big swing. It was a short swing. He’s relaxed a little bit more up there and he’s not swinging as hard. Once again, if I can get him atop the order I would rather do that. But if he doesn’t show improvement then I’ll move him back down there.”
Hey, something has to give eventually, right? It isn’t expected to get any easier for the Phillies offense when they leave Cincinnati: they head from here to Citi Field, where the reigning NL Champion New York Mets have Jacob deGrom, Bartolo Colon, and Matt Harvey lined up to start.