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May 23, 2017

Rockie Horror Show: Blackmon blasts pair, Phillies move into last place

New Colorado Rockies infielder and long-time Washington Nationals player Ian Desmond sent out a curious tweet on Monday afternoon.

It’s not as if Desmond’s career numbers have been that good at Citizens Bank Park. They’re actually not great: .258/.296/.390, five home runs in 54 games. Maybe he just likes the fine eateries in our fair city.

Or maybe Charlie Blackmon picked up the wrong phone and accidentally sent out the tweet from Desmond’s account. Because Charlie Blackmon has reason to get googly eyes every time he steps into the Phillies’ 14-year-old ballpark.

You might even start thinking CBP stands for Charlie Blackmon’s Park.

Blackmon homered twice on Tuesday night at Citizens Bank Park - both times off right-hander Zach Eflin – as the Phillies nightmarish month of May continued with an 8-2 defeat to the Colorado Rockies.

The Rockies have outscored the Phillies 16-3 in the first two games of the four-game series. The Phillies have scored a grand total of six runs in their last four games, all losses. They have lost 19 of their last 23 games overall.

"We’re just in a big rut right now," manager Pete Mackanin said. "I know we’re better than this, I think the team knows they're better than this. I can’t fault their hustle. Someone might say there’s no energy, but when you get no hits there’s no energy. We got some hits. (Andrew) Knapp hit the home run. There were some positives that came out of it."

Mackanin also mentioned the work of bullpen arms Hector Neris and Mark Leiter Jr. (three perfect innings), Aaron Altherr (second straight multi-hit game) and Odubel Herrera (possibly emerging from a season-long funk with a pair of hits, including a double). But Mackanin didn't have enough fancy wax to gloss over another one-sided defeat in a month full of them.

No team in baseball has fewer wins than the Phillies (15-28), who moved into a tie for last place in the National League East with Miami following Tuesday’s defeat.

"No, I don't remember a time like this," Freddy Galvis, the longest-tenured Phillies player, said when asked if he could remember a stretch this bad in the last six years. "We just have to try to stay together as a team, try to fight together, to get off what’s happening right now. It’s a tough situation but we have to keep grinding, we have to keep playing hard. 

"Everyone has to do a little bit. Everyone has to stay together. Everyone has to grind. Everyone has to play hard, work hard, and just put your mind on baseball. Your mind has to be on baseball 24/7 if you want to switch this. We have to keep grinding. Keep grinding, man. It’s pretty tough right now. I believe that we have a pretty good team and pretty good talent. You just have to keep playing hard and try to do the best that you can."

Blackmon, the Rockies leadoff hitter, paved the way for the latest defeat with his continued assault of Phillies pitching inside their own ballpark. Blackmon’s two home runs gave him seven home runs in his last five games at Citizens Bank Park.

Last August, Blackmon had two and three-home run games in a three-game series with the Phillies. The bad news for the Phillies: their current season with the Rockies is only halfway over.

More bad news: after a successful April, Eflin could be pitching his way back to Triple-A Lehigh Valley in May.

The 23-year-old right-hander was on the losing end of a 10-pitch battle with Colorado eight-hole hitter Tony Wolters to begin the third inning. Wolters walked. Two batters later, Blackmon homered to give the Rockies an early 2-0 lead.

Eflin’s struggles carried over into the fourth. He allowed four straight hits to open up the frame. They would all round the bases and score, the last doing so when Blackmon ripped his second two-run home run in as many innings.

"He seems to like hitting here," Eflin said. "But I just have to execute pitches. There’s no excuse. I just have to be on top of my game."

Eflin’s ERA has jumped from 2.81 to 5.36 in his last two starts. In those two starts, on Tuesday night and last Wednesday in Texas, Eflin has yielded 15 runs on 21 hits in 10 innings.

"I mean, it’s frustrating, but it happens," Eflin said. "It’s baseball. There are going to be a lot of times in my career where I give up a lot of hits and a lot of runs. But I’m really not worried about it right now. I know that I’m going to continue to work hard and go out every fifth day and, you know, put up a line of winning baseball."

Follow Ryan on Twitter: @ryanlawrence21

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