PHILADELPHIA Antonio Bastardo walked Mark Reynolds, the first batter Wednesday in a tie game s eighth inning. Bastardo did not pay attention to the slow-footed Milwaukee Brewers first baseman, who stole a base for the sixth time in three years. The Phillies infield crept closer once Reynolds reached third, and Ryan Howard could not field a routine bouncer.
Howard covered his mouth with his glove and shouted.
The eighth inning of a 9-4 Phillies loss their third straight was an example of everything Ryne Sandberg stressed his team not do. They could not throw strikes. They ignored base runners. They failed at basic fundamentals.
, who lashed a Bastardo pitch for a two-run triple, provided the lasting image. He stood on third base and waved his hands in celebration. The fans, as they exited Citizens Bank Park, booed their villain.
The Phillies have come undone in recent days. Sandberg s bunch permitted 10 unearned runs in the club s last three games. That is more than any National League team has allowed all season.
The first eight games of 2014 yielded a 3-5 record, but more alarmingly is the fashion in which that record was attained. The bullpen is leaky. The defense is shabby. The hitting is not timely. It is reminiscent of a 73-win season in 2013 that prompted Sandberg s ascension to manager.
Howard s gaffe was the most egregious Wednesday. Reynolds dashed from third when Logan Schafer tapped a first-pitch Bastardo slider to Howard. The first baseman approached it backhanded. The ball skipped past amid a ballpark s collective groan.
Two batters later, Bastardo plunked Jean Segura on the hand. Braun, who struck out in his three previous at-bats, smashed a Bastardo change-up to deep center for two more runs. Braun destroyed the Phillies on Tuesday and is a career .346 hitter against lefties. But Sandberg opted for Bastardo to remain rather than employ a righthanded arm.
That probable option was Justin De Fratus, who surrendered a two-run homer to Reynolds an inning later. The game devolved into a rout.
It was tied when both teams entrusted their bullpens. Jeff Manship and Jake Diekman survived the sixth and seventh innings, respectively. The Phillies tied it in the fifth but mustered one hit from the sixth through the eighth innings.
The sloppy tone was established early; a 35-minute first inning featured a special brand of unseemliness. Milwaukee led 2-0 just nine minutes after fired his first pitch. One run scored when Jimmy Rollins failed to snare a high chopper; the ball glanced off his glove and skipped into left field. Hernandez threw 29 pitches to record three outs.
was no better. He balked home a run in the bottom of the first. Brewers second baseman Scooter Gennett threw a ball intended for second base to left field. The first replay review in Citizens Bank Park history lasted 1 minute, 29 seconds. It erased Ben Revere from second base on a close force play. Still, the Phillies jumped ahead on two grounders.
Hernandez was not economical with his pitches, but he fooled Milwaukee into 21 swinging strikes, or 20 percent of his 104 total throws. His nine strikeouts were his most since Sept. 15, 2007, and that is when he went by Fausto Carmona.
He failed to complete six innings in each of his first two Phillies starts. But, in both instances, he pitched well enough to keep the Phillies alive. They will accept that performance from their fifth starter.
The Phillies played, once again, without Chase Utley. He was quarantined with the flu Tuesday but permitted at the ballpark a day later. Sandberg described Utley as half better before the game. He considered Utley an option to pinch-hit, but that never happened. Utley s mere presence will improve the Phillies, but failures like Wednesday s extend beyond one man s power.Your browser does not support iframes.
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