Phillies Epic Collapse Continues


The Philadelphia Phillies were not expected to be a very good baseball team in this 2015 season, but the epic collapse that has occurred over the past month is likely nothing of a level that anyone, at least on the team, could have seen coming.

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The Phils lost (again) yesterday afternoon to the host Pittsburgh Pirates by a 4-3 margin at PNC Park. It was the formerly Fightin’s 18th defeat in their last 23 games stretching back to the end of that 6-game win streak in Colorado on May 19th.

There was nothing in particular about this loss that made it stand out. It was just another loss in a season of mounting failure by this team. They lose big, they lose close, but lose they do, and all too frequently.

This one was going to be tough from the start, as the Phillies were up against one of the best young starting pitchers in the game today. The Pirates’ Gerrit Cole (10-2) didn’t disappoint, becoming the first MLB pitcher to reach double-digits in victories. He went 6 impressive innings, striking out 7 and walking no one, allowing just 5 hits and one earned run.

On the Phillies side, overmatched Sean O’Sullivan lasted 6 innings himself, but was not nearly as effective. O’Sullivan (1-5) allowed 8 hits and 4 walks, allowing 4 earned runs to score. The Phils did get a pair of nice shutdown relief innings from Justin De Fratus and Jeanmar Gomez, but the offense couldn’t dent the Bucs pen.

The Pirates bats gave Cole all the runs that he would need early on in this contest, scoring twice in each of the first two innings off O’Sullivan. In the first inning, Gregory Polanco led off with a single, stole 2nd base, and scored following consecutive fielder’s choice plays. With two outs, Josh Harrison singled home a 2nd Pittsburgh run.

In the bottom of the 2nd inning, 2-out RBI singles from both Starling Marte and Andrew McCutchen stretched the Pirates lead out to 4-1. With Cole firing on all cylinders, that would prove enough in the end. Three relievers were mostly effective for the Bucs, with Mark Melancon finishing it up with his 20th Save of the year.

The Phils had scored in the top of the first for an early 1-0 lead. Ben Revere led off with a single, stole 2nd, moved to 3rd when the throw from Pirates catcher Chris Stewart went wild, and scored on Chase Utley‘s sac fly. In the 4th, Maikel Franco led off with a double and scored after a pair of ground outs.

In the top of the 8th, the Phillies made their lone run at winning this one. Revere led off with a double against new Pirates reliever Tony Watson. Jeff Francoeur followed with an RBI single, making it a 4-3 game. Utley then singled as well, with Francoeur hustling to 3rd base, and the Phils had a legit rally.

The Bucs intentionally walked Ryan Howard to load the bases with nobody out, and the move worked perfectly for them as the next three Phillies hitters all grounded into force outs to kill the threat with Pittsburgh still on top. It was a typically frustrating end of an innings, highlighting perfectly what has become a ridiculously frustrating season.

The two Keystone state clubs will wrap up this series with a Sunday afternoon tilt. The Phillies will send out their ace, Cole Hamels (5-5, 3.19 ERA) with the trade rumors increasingly swirling around him and undoubtedly with a number of opposition scouts in the stands. For the host Bucs, it will be ex-Phil A.J. Burnett (6-2, 2.11 ERA) who is having a tremendous season to this point.