The Philadelphia Phillies lost to the host Atlanta Braves at Turner Field on Wednesday night.
There are many fans and pundits around baseball, including right here in Philadelphia, who are waiting for the bubble to burst on the Fightin’ Phils strong start to the 2016 season.
After last night’s disheartening “effort” in a 5-1 loss to the worst team in baseball, the host Atlanta Braves, the Phils have set themselves up to need a win on Thursday night to take this series. If they fail to do so, there will be a chorus of “here we go” coming from many directions.
The Phillies appeared listless in every way in what was one of their worst games since they were swept in Cincinnati during the very first week of the season. The offense managed just four hits and one run, the defense committed three errors, and starting pitcher Jerad Eickhoff was awful.
Eickhoff (1-5) yielded seven hits and three earned runs, four total runs, over 4.1 innings in a start during which he struck out just two and walked one. He was lucky to be down by just a 4-1 score when pulled in the 5th inning.
“I think it just boils down to the command of his fastball,” Phillies skipper Pete Mackanin said per MLB.com contributor Aimee Sachs. “His off stuff, he didn’t have it either. He battled through his last outing, and he looked a little bit the same. He didn’t look like he was in full control because he wasn’t spotting his fastball, and that makes all the difference in the world. Too many good pitches to hit.”
The Braves scored single runs in four of the first five innings off the Phillies’ starter. Three of the first four batters singled in the bottom of the 1st, with Kelly Johnson as the third of those driving in Ender Inciarte with the first run of the game.
In the bottom of the third, Freddie Freeman led off with a single and motored around to third when Johnson followed with a double. Freeman then scored on a sacrifice fly by A.J. Pierzynski that gave the hosts a 3-0 lead.
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The Phillies pulled one back when Ryan Howard led off the top of the 5th with his 8th home run of the season, an opposite field blast off Atlanta’s emergency starter Williams Perez. But Freeman answered for the Braves in the bottom of the frame with his 6th of the season, pushing the lead back to 4-1.
Perez (1-0) was replacing scheduled starter Jhoulys Chacin, who was traded earlier in the day to the Los Angeles Angels. The 24-year old right-hander was masterful, allowing just two hits over 8 innings, striking out four and walking no one. The Phillies never challenged him, aside from the Howard blast.
One bright spot for the Phillies was reliever Brett Oberholtzer. The lefty former starter with Houston whom the Phils have converted to the bullpen has been inconsistent thus far this season. Last night he produced his second straight scoreless outing, allowing just one hit and one walk over 2.2 innings.
The Phillies need a win in tonight’s finale in order to gain a victory in this series, and head home with a 5-5 mark on their 10-game road trip.