Phillies Dominated in Defeat by Max Scherzer
By Matt Veasey
The Philadelphia Phillies dropped a tough game to the division rival Washington Nationals on Tuesday night at Citizens Bank Park.
The Phillies were thoroughly dominated by Washington Nationals ace starting pitcher Max Scherzer in a 3-2 defeat at Citizens Bank Park on Tuesday night.
Scherzer (15-7) allowed just three hits across eight innings, striking out 11 batters while walking just one. Only a Ryan Howard home run briefly dented his seemingly impenetrable armor on the night.
There are many ways for a really good team to win ballgames across a 162-game MLB regular season schedule. Sometimes your offense bashes its way to victories. Sometimes your bullpen bails you out.
And sometimes you ride a horse of a starting pitcher. The Nats, who lead the National League East Division by nine games and who are 22 games over the .500 mark took the latter path last night in South Philly.
That offense did get Scherzer a couple of early runs with which to work. Bryce Harper doubled home Daniel Murphy, and then catcher Wilson Ramos singled home Harper against Phillies starter Jerad Eickhoff to give Washington a 1st inning 2-0 lead.
Eickhoff (9-13) didn’t pitch badly, but again received little offensive support, which has been a regular M.O. for the man who has proven to be the Phillies most reliable and consistent starting pitcher this season.
The 26-year old right-hander allowed five hits over his six innings, just two after the 1st inning. He struck out four and walked three in producing the 15th Quality Start of his 2016 season.
In the top of the 4th inning, veteran Ryan Zimmerman walked with one out, and then moved around to 3rd base on a single off the bat of Danny Espinosa.
That brought Scherzer to the plate, and the pitcher laid down a beauty of a bunt that allowed Zimmerman to race home with what would ultimately prove to be the difference-making run.
With the Nationals up 3-0 and Scherzer cruising on the mound, it took a walk by Cameron Rupp with one out in the bottom of the 5th to break up a Perfect Game, and a leadoff double by Freddy Galvis in the bottom of the 6th to break up a no-hit bid.
In the bottom of the 7th, with the Nats still leading by that 3-0 margin, Odubel Herrera led off with a single for the Phillies’ 2nd hit of the night. Two batters later, ‘The Big Piece’ drove a Scherzer lined his 20th home run of the year out over the left-center field wall, cutting the deficit to a single run.
For Howard it was the 10th time in his Phillies career that the slugging 1st baseman has reached the 20 homer mark, second in franchise history only to the great Hall of Fame 3rd baseman Mike Schmidt.
Unfortunately for the home fans, that would be their lone moment of joy. Cesar Hernandez did draw a leadoff walk in the bottom of the 9th against Washington closer Mark Melancon, but then two batters later Maikel Franco grounded into a game-ending double play.
The loss was the Phillies 4th in their last five games, an 8th straight to the Nationals, and dropped them club to a dozen games below the .500 mark for the first time since late June.
The series concludes with a 7:05pm game on Wednesday night. The Phillies and Nationals will meet one more time this season, for a four game set at Nationals Park during the second week of September.