It would be wrong of me to say that the Phillies were beaten by a stinking communist last night in Los Angeles.
After all, Yasiel Puig left that tiny island nation to pursue a professional baseball career in the land of Happy Meals and Wall Street, so one would assume he’s fully grasped the capitalist and democratic spirit of America.
Better dead than red, am I right?
Puig’s two-run single in the bottom of the seventh put the Dodgers ahead for good and extended their winning streak to six games. The Phillies, meanwhile, could not finish off an impressive comeback against Dodgers’ starter Zack Greinke, rallying from an early 3-0 deficit to take a 4-3 lead in the seventh.
It was another late-night killer.
Chase Utley had another big night in his return from injury. He hit his second home run on this road trip, his 9th of the season, a longball that briefly put the Phillies up by one. Utley went 3 for 5, also adding a double, and scored two runs.
Domonic Brown got the Phillies on the board in the second inning with a long homer to right-center field, his 21st of the year. After going more than two weeks without a home run, it was his second on the trip. Delmon Young mind-boggglingly went 4 for 4 and Ben Revere added three hits as well.
However, there could have been a lot more runs scored if not for more failures to hit with runners on base. The Phillies went 2 for 8 with RISP, and left 7 men on. Two of them occurred in the fifth inning when Ryan Howard single-handedly killed a rally. With the bases loaded and one out, he swung at a 3-0 sinker off the plate and bounced into an inning-ending double play.
Howard also made a costly physical error in the decisive seventh inning, when he slipped fielding a routine bunt. That runner ultimately proved to be the winning run, scoring on Puig’s hit.
“I take full responsibility,” Howard said. “I’ve got to be better than that.”“Those are two plays, two key moments that changed the flow of the game,” Howard said. “It sucks. I’m upset I didn’t make that play. I slipped and I cost my team the game.
“And on the 3-0 pitch — I have to make a better swing. Those are two things I had control over in the game and I didn’t get it done. (Jonathan) Pettibone threw well and Chase (Utley) swung the bat well. I have to do a better job.” – quote per CSN Philly’s Jim Salisbury
Say what you want about Ryan Howard, and I’ve been as hard on him as anybody. But the guy cares about winning and cares about his performance.
That said, Howard is now mired in another funk, 0 for his last 16. He had been red-hot. From June 9 through the 23rd (13 games), Howard had hit .426/.500/.745 with an OPS of 1.245, 3 HRs, 4 2Bs, 1 3B, 11 RBI, 7 BB and 15 Ks. He had gotten his batting average up to .282 and his OPS up to .829.
Oh well. It was fun while it lasted.
But the real story was the continued sensation that is Puig. Frankly, Justin De Fratus‘ 0-2 slider to him was a good pitch, off the plate and down in the zone. Puig showed incredible plate coverage by reaching out and hooking a groundball through the left side of the infield for the two-run single. The dude is on some kind of roll, hitting .427/.457/.708 for an OPS of 1.165 with 7 HRs and 4 doubles since joining the Dodgers.
Still, this was a win the Phillies had to have if they wanted to make up ground in the NL East. The loss drops them to 2-2 on this road trip, on the heels of a 3-3 homestand. They are now 38-42, 7 1/2 games behind Atlanta in the NL East.
Worse yet, they’ve blown two late leads in their two losses on this road trip.