Phillies vs. Rays: Phils digging a hole in NL East race

  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
·4 min read
In this article:
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
This content is not available due to your privacy preferences.
Update your settings here to see it.

Phillies starting to dig a hole, drop both games in Tampa originally appeared on NBC Sports Philadelphia

The Phillies’ stagnant offense did little, their league-worst defense showed up again and Zach Eflin had his shortest start of the season in Sunday’s 6-2 loss to the Rays.

The Phillies have scored 12 runs in their last five games. They have gradually fallen to the bottom third of the majors in runs per game, on-base percentage, slugging and home runs, all while leading the National League in strikeouts.

At 25-28, the Phillies are starting to dig a hole. They're four games behind the Mets in the NL East and six back in the wild-card race. It's still relatively early but this team hasn't inspired much hope of contending in 2021.

The Phils are 10-18 on the road as they head to Cincinnati for the final three games of their trip.

Eflin (2-5, 4.10) was not as sharp as usual and the Rays fouled off 40% of the strikes he threw. He gave up two runs in the second inning on a Mike Zunino line-drive home run, then allowed three straight two-out hits in the fifth before being pulled.

Tampa Bay’s pair of second-inning runs may have been avoided if not for another miscue in the field by Alec Bohm. He was stationed near shortstop on a shift against left-handed-hitting Austin Meadows and overran a catchable ball in foul ground. Meadows walked and later scored on a two-run homer by Zunino, who might not have even come up in the inning if Bohm made the play.

"It’s a play he’s capable of making but he didn’t make it," manager Joe Girardi said.

Bohm, who grounded into his MLB-leading 12th double play the prior half-inning, was consoled in the dugout by Didi Gregorius.

This content is not available due to your privacy preferences.
Update your settings here to see it.

"It’s been extremely frustrating for him, and this is part of the game," Girardi said. "There’s a ton of failure in this game. I’ve seen Hall of Famers have bad halves. You’ve got to learn to deal with it. You’ve got to learn to fight through it. His teammates obviously know he’s frustrated and they’re trying to help him, probably sharing some of the experiences they’ve gone through.

"No one’s ever going to feel sorry for you in this game and you just have to fight through it. These guys are trying to give him techniques."

The Phillies gifted the Rays another run with bad defense in the seventh when Brad Miller sailed a throw home that let a runner come around third.

"The way I see it is we gave them two runs," Girardi said. "The game’s completely different if it’s 4-2 or 2-1. We gave them runs and it changes the complexion of the game."

There's no need to sugarcoat: The 2021 Phillies' defense has been horrible. There does not seem to be a realistic path to significant improvement without changes in personnel.

The Phillies scored two runs in the sixth on a sac fly from J.T. Realmuto and an RBI double by Brad Miller.

They loaded the bases with two outs in the ninth and had the tying run at the plate but Odubel Herrera lined out to center.

Girardi’s lineup change did not spark a sputtering offense. Andrew McCutchen, hitting .150 over a three-week span entering Sunday’s game, was moved from leadoff to sixth. It was the lowest McCutchen has hit in the order in his time as a Phillie and just his second start of 154 outside the leadoff spot.

McCutchen is hitting .199 on the season. Bohm is hitting .205. Bryce Harper and Gregorius are on the injured list. Four of the Phillies’ top six offensive players are either currently out of the picture or ineffective.

Next comes a three-game road series against a 23-28 Reds team that has lost 10 of 14. 

Vince Velasquez faces left-hander Wade Miley in Game 1 Monday at 2:10 p.m.

Aaron Nola goes up against Sonny Gray in Game 2 Tuesday at 7:10 p.m.

Spencer Howard pitches the series finale against rookie Vladimir Gutierrez Wednesday at 12:35 p.m.

Subscribe to the Phillies Talk podcastApple Podcasts | Google Play | Spotify | Stitcher | Art19 | Watch on YouTube