The Philadelphia Phillies lost this afternoon in their 2016 home opener, the 5th consecutive home opener defeat for the franchise.
Starting pitcher Aaron Nola was good once again, just not good enough on this day, and the Phillies bats disappeared over the final three innings as the San Diego Padres ruined the home opener at Citizens Bank Park by hanging a 4-3 loss on the home team.
Nola allowed just six hits over seven innings, striking out nine and walking no one. But three of the hits that he allowed went for extra bases, and all would eventually create runs for the Padres on the day.
In the top of the 3rd, Alexi Ramirez and Alexi Amarista led off with back-to-back singles off Nola. One out later, Jon Jay doubled for the first extra-base hit, scoring Ramirez and moving Amarista to 3rd, making it a 1-0 game. When Cory Spangenberg followed with a ground out, Amarista scored to up the Friars’ lead to 2-0.
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In the top of the 4th, Wil Myers drove a 2-2 Nola offering out on a line over the left field wall for a solo home run that made it a 3-0 game. The Phillies then began to slowly chip away, scoring a single run in each of their next three at-bats to tie it up.
In the bottom of the 5th, Cameron Rupp led off with a double. One out later, Peter Bourjos doubled Rupp home to cut the Padres’ lead to 3-2. In the bottom of the 6th, the Phillies got it tied up, but could have scored more if not for a goofy umpiring call.
Hernandez started it off with a walk, followed by singles from Herrera andMaikel Franco
to load the bases with nobody out. That started a chess match, with Padres’ skipperAndy Green
brining in lefty relieverBrad Hand
to faceRyan Howard
, and Phils’ managerPete Mackanin
bringing inDarin Ruf
as a pinch-hitter.
Ruf popped a ball into medium left field. It appeared that it would be a simple shallow fly ball out, too short to score the tying run in all likelihood. The outcome of the play would prove to be anything but simple, but it would indeed get the game tied.
Padres’ shortstop Alexei Ramirez went out for the ball, and left fielder Wil Myers backed off as Ramirez tried to circle underneath. As this happened, umpire Will Little signaled the “infield fly rule” was in effect.
Why Little made such a call on a ball that was clearly an outfield fly is beyond me, and is frankly incredulous. My guess is that it was simply instinctual when the ball popped into the air, the shortstop began calling for it, and there were bases loaded and nobody out.
Whatever the reasoning on the call, more hilarity then ensued when Ramirez actually dropped the ball, which he clearly did not do on purpose. Hernandez had tug up, and he came in to score on the play, tying the game at 3-3.
But Ruf had been ruled out automatically by the infield-fly call, and now Herrera was ruled out when Ramirez gunned him down at 3rd base. With two outs, Green brought out Kevin Quackenbush, who struck out Cameron Rupp swinging to end the Phillies threat.
The Padres broke the tie against Nola in the top of the 7th whenDerek Norris
drilled a one-out double. Ramirez singled to put runners on the corners, and then Amarista laid down a fantastic squeeze bunt, scoring Norris with the go-ahead run.
Cashner allowed seven hits and three earned runs over his five innings, with five strikeouts and one walk. Once he left the game, starting with Hand and Quackenbush, Green paraded out five different relievers over the final four innings. Aside from the botched Ramirez play, the Phillies batters did nothing against any of them.
When Franco led off the bottom of the 9th with a single, the Phillies had a final shot. But Padres’ closer Fernando Rodney induced Ruf to bounce into a perfect 6-3 doubleplay. Rupp popped out to 2nd base to end the game, and the Phillies had disappointed their fans in a home opener once again.
The Phillies are now 23-36-1 in their history in home openers. They are 9-18 going back over the last few decades, in addition to the current stretch of five straight home opening defeats.
That streak coincides with every season since the last 2011 playoff team. It is the longest current such MLB streak, and ties the longest in franchise history..