The Phillies (5-10) defense deserted them tonight in almost every way possible: errors, miscues, bone-headed plays. They dropped balls, multiple times. Fly balls. Pop fouls. Balls thrown to them by other players. The comedy of 3 official errors combined with a return to their struggling offensive ways added up to a 6-1 loss to the Miami Marlins (4-11).
Cole Hamels took the mound in search of his first victory of the still-young 2015 season. He’ll take the mound for his next start still looking for it. This one wasn’t really his fault at all. Hamels left after pitching 6 innings over which he scattered 5 hits and 3 walks. He also struck out 5 batters, and the run that he allowed was unearned, scoring on his own error.
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That run came in the top of the 2nd inning. With Marlins runners at 1st and 3rd and two outs, Hamels induced a grounder beyond 1st baseman Ryan Howard‘s diving grasp. Chase Utley ranged far to his left to make the stop, and Hamels ran to cover the abandoned 1st base bag. Utley’s throw was slightly off-line, but should have been handled easily by the pitcher. He instead dropped the ball, and Marcell Ozuna scored the first run of the game.
The Phils got that run back quickly in the bottom of the 2nd when Cody Asche blasted a leadoff home run deep into the stands in right-center off Marlins starter and former Phils prospect Jarred Cosart. The blast was Asche’s 2nd of the year, and it tied the game at 1-1.
Cosart (1-1) had been dealt by the Phils as part of the 4-prospect package to Houston for outfielder Hunter Pence back in 2011. He was later dealt by the Astros to Miami. This was his first start at Citizens Bank Park. He would pitch magnificently, working his fastball, sinker, cutter, and curve ball all well in allowing just 4 hits with no walks, striking out 4 over his 6 innings.
At that point, the game settled into a pitcher’s duel between Cosart and Hamels for a while. The Fish broke the tie in their half of the 7th against Phillies reliever Luis Garcia. Two singles and a stolen base surrounding a strikeout left Garcia (1-1) facing runners on the corners. He promptly balked, sending Adeiny Hechavarria, the runner at 3rd, in to score the go-ahead run.
With the Marlins up 2-1, it would be the top of the 8th where the defense would really unravel. It started well, with Howard making a fine running basket catch on a pop foul into the stands behind 1st base. Then with two outs, reliever Ken Giles appeared to get strike three to end the inning. He didn’t get the call, and it would hurt.
“We didn’t do too much right tonight.” ~ Sandberg
The next two Miami hitters reached on soft singles. Then came the two game-changing errors. First, Chase Utley dropped a throw from Cody Asche on what would have been an inning-ending force out at 2nd. That drop resulted in a bases loaded situation.
The next batter, Dee Gordon, lofted a fly ball up over centerfielder Odubel Herrera‘s head. Herrera broke back, got turned around and misjudged the ball, tried to adjust and come back, but ultimately had the ball clank off his glove and drop to the turf. All the runners were going with two outs, and all would score by the time Herrera could recover himself.
When the dust cleared, Gordon was on third base, and the three runs had stretched the Marlins lead out to 5-1. JustIn De Fratus was brought in to replace Giles, and immediately allowed an rbi double to Martin Prado, scoring Gordon with the run that upped the Fish lead to 6-1.
“We didn’t do too much right tonight.” said manager Ryne Sandberg after the game. Regarding the late-game defensive collapse, the skipper perhaps made the understatement of the night: “Everything snowballed in the 8th inning there on the defensive side of things.”
The series will conclude tomorrow with the season’s first Businessperson’s Special, a 1:05pm start in South Philly. The Phillies will give a start to newcomer Dustin McGowan, who will be pitching in place of Sean O’Sullivan, who had to be placed on the DL with a knee injury.