The Philadelphia Phillies suffered a second consecutive blowout loss at the hands of the Washington Nationals.
This is not a repeat. The visiting first-place Washington Nationals punished the Phillies for a second straight game in this weekend series in front of 30,320 fans at Citizens Bank Park, taking an 8-1 decision on Saturday night.
The Nats once again pounded a Phils’ starting pitcher who had been pitching well prior to this outing. This time it was Aaron Nola (0-2) taking the beating. He allowed seven earned runs on seven hits over just five innings pitched. The right-hander struck out six and walked three on the night.
Meanwhile on the other side of the field, Nationals’ veteran righty Max Scherzer (2-0) dominated the Phillies hitters. He allowed just five hits over seven innings, striking out seven and walking one.
One of those baffled by Scherzer should not have been surprising. Darin Ruf was given a start in left field in an effort by manager Pete Mackanin to get more power into the lineup. Unfortunately, Mackanin must not have taken the simple step of reading Ruf’s career record.
“I don’t want him to go too long without facing right-handers,” Mackanin said, per phillyvoice.com’s Ryan Lawrence. “He’s going to play against some right-handers. I just needed some kind of infusion of offense, if we can come up with one.”
As we have noted here at TBOH a number of times, Ruf is terrible against right-handed pitching on the whole. Against an elite righty like Scherzer, the results were predictable most times out. Ruf went 0-4 in the game, striking out three times. No infusion of offense. He should not be playing against right-handers.
Against Scherzer, Ruf popped up weakly to 2nd base in the 1st inning, struck out swinging on three pitches in the 4th, and struck out swinging in the 7th. He finished his night by striking out swinging against yet another righty, reliever Shawn Kelley.
Kelley struck out the side in the 9th inning, meaning that 10 batters went down on strikes for the Phillies on the night. The Phils now have 102 strikeouts on the season while walking just 29 times, one of the worst ratios in Major League Baseball.
The only offensive highlight for the Phillies came with the club already trailing by 7-0 in the bottom of the 5th inning when, with one out, Cameron Rupp drove his first home run of the season out to left field on a full-count offering from Scherzer.
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Nola got himself in trouble immediately in the top of the 1st inning by walking leadoff man Michael Taylor and yielding a single to Anthony Rendon on which Taylor moved to 3rd base. He would score the game’s first run on a sacrifice fly by Bryce Harper.
Ryan Zimmerman then grounded a single to score Rendon, and Daniel Murphy ripped a triple to right that scored Zimmerman to give the Nats a 3-spot in their first at-bat. Washington had scored five times in the 1st inning on Friday en route to a 9-1 victory.
Scherzer helped himself in the top of the 4th, lining a two-run double to right field that made it a 5-0 game. In the 5th, Harper homered for a second straight game, his 5th of the season going for a two-run shot that made it a 7-0 lead.
The Phillies (5-7) have one more shot to take a game in this series on Sunday afternoon behind veteran Charlie Morton. The Nationals have won nine of their first 10 games, and now have an early 5-game lead in the NL East over the Phils, who amazingly remain in 2nd place in the division.