The Phillies opened their final road trip of the 2015 season with a 2-1 defeat on Friday night to the host Braves at Turner Field in Atlanta. While the team lost on the field, each loss now inches them closer to gaining the top pick in the 2016 MLB Amateur Draft.
Let’s start with that actual game on the field. Phillies rookie Adam Morgan actually pitched well again, and is certainly cementing a role in the team’s plans for next season’s starting pitching rotation.
Morgan (5-7) went 6 innings, making this the 9th time in his 15 starts that the lefty has gone at least that distance. He allowed just 2 earned runs on 6 hits, giving him a Quality Start, his 8th of the season. Morgan also struck out 3 batters while walking none, giving him a solid 49/17 K:BB ratio on the year.
Unfortunately for the Phils’ starter, most of his teammates completely let him down offensively. A two-out, solo home run to the opposite field by catcher Cameron Rupp, his 9th of the season, was the only scoring the team would do on the night.
The Braves chipped away at Morgan for single runs in both the 1st and 4th innings. In the 1st, a 2-out double by Adonis Garcia scored Nick Markakis, who had led off the game with a single. In the 4th, a 2-out single by Cameron Maybin scored Freddie Freeman, who had doubled earlier in the frame.
On the mound for Atlanta, rookie Williams Perez handcuffed the Phils’ bats for the 2nd straight outing. Back on September 7th at Citizens Bank Park, Perez held them to 2 earned runs on 6 hits across 7 innings. He also matched his season high with 7 strikeouts to gain his 5th victory of the season in that one.
In this one, Perez (6-6) evened his personal record with 5.2 innings over which he allowed just the one earned run on 6 hits and a walk. He also struck out 6 batters. The two solid, winning outings against the Phils are his only two good starts for Atlanta among his last seven times on the mound.
While the Atlanta bullpen did shut the Phillies out over the final 3.1 innings, the final victory wasn’t secured without some drama. Sloppy defense and pitching allowed the Fightins to load the bases in the top of the 9th, and brought Darin Ruf to the plate with a chance to be a hero.
However, as with so many times in his disappointing career, Ruf wasn’t up to the task, softly lining out to 2nd base to end it. “They gave us, what, six outs in that ninth inning? And we couldn’t capitalize,” said Phils’ interim manager Pete Mackanin following the game, per MLB.com’s Mark Bowman.
As a result of the loss, the Phillies dropped further behind Atlanta in the “race” to the bottom of the MLB standings, and that accompanying #1 overall 2016 Draft slot. Their “Magic Number” to clinch that worst record and top pick now stands at 12 over the Braves with 14 games to play.