New season, same old Phillies struggles against the Miami Marlins

Jim Salisbury
·4 min read

New season, same old struggles against the Miami Marlins.

The Phillies lost their season opener to the Marlins, 5-2, on Friday night at Citizens Bank.

The Phils' offense was feeble. It produced just five hits. One of them was an infield hit and another a check-swing single. 

Didi Gregorius homered for the Phillies' first run. The Phils' other run was unearned.

Aaron Nola didn't pitch badly, but he couldn't hold the Marlins off in the sixth inning and he paid for a mistake 0-2 curveball.

The Marlins lost 105 games last season but played the Phillies tough, winning 10 times in 19 meetings. Had the Phils played better against the Marlins last season, they may have had a winning season. Instead, they went 81-81.

While the Phils struggled against the Marlins last season, the rest of the NL East cleaned up on them. The division-winning Braves and wild-card Nationals both went 15-4 against the Marlins last season while the third-place Mets went 13-6.

Nola's night

One bad inning did him in. He issued a leadoff walk to No. 9 hitter Miguel Rojas in the top of the sixth then two batters later gave up a tie-breaking, two-run homer Jesus Aguilar on an 0-2 curveball that stayed in the strike zone too long. Nola then allowed a double to Corey Dickerson and he came around to score on wild pitch by reliever Ramon Rosso.

Nola walked one and struck out seven over 5⅓ innings.

Tough debut

Manager Joe Girardi pulled Nola at 79 pitches after he gave up the double to Dickerson. The Phils were down just 3-1 at the time. Girardi went to Rosso and the unproven right-hander struggled in his big-league debut. The hard-throwing right-hander showed plenty of power, but command was a problem. He wild-pitched in a run, walked a batter and gave up an RBI double and the Marlins pulled ahead, 5-1 in the sixth.

Hard to believe

Nola is 0-5 in his last over his last eight starts, dating to Aug. 25 of last season. The Phillies are 0-8 in those games.

Good arms

The Marlins are picked to finish in the NL East basement again, but they can be dangerous because they have some good arms in their starting rotation. Hard-throwing right-hander Sandy Alcantara is one of them. He held the Phils to three hits, walked two and struck out seven in 6⅔ innings.

The lineup

Girardi's first lineup had an interesting twist: Rhys Hoskins in the No. 2 hole between leadoff man Andrew McCutchen and No. 3 hitter Bryce Harper.

Girardi talked about reasons for hitting Hoskins second. They weren't a lot different than Gabe Kapler's reasons for hitting Hoskins leadoff a handful of times last August.

Hoskins had a difficult second half last season and he tinkered with his setup at the plate in the offseason and again recently.

The Phillies need a rebound season from Hoskins.

Girardi talked about reasons for hitting Hoskins second.

"When you look at Rhys, even with some of the struggles that he had last year, he's an on-base guy," Girardi said. "I want on-base in front of power. But he offers a lot of power as well. So he's an on-base and power guy. And when you start talking about American League lineups, which we are basically playing today (with the DH), there are RBI slots everywhere. But the first time through the lineup we have people who really, really grind out at-bats and could put a pitch count hopefully on their starter. As they get to three, four, five, hopefully it becomes a long inning."

Hoskins was 1 for 3 with a check-swing single, a walk and a strikeout.

Wheels up

Zack Wheeler is ready to make his Phillies debut Saturday night. He will be opposed by Miami lefty Caleb Smith.

Wheeler's status for the start was in doubt until his wife, Dominique, gave birth to the couple's first child, a son, on Monday night. Little Wesley Wheeler arrived five days early, allowing Dad to stay on schedule.

"He was a good sport," Wheeler said with a laugh.

Wesley checked in at 7 pounds, 12 ounces. He and Mom are doing well.

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New season, same old Phillies struggles against the Miami Marlins originally appeared on NBC Sports Philadelphia