PHILLIES COME OUT FLAT ON COLE HAMELS’ NIGHT

On a night when players of the Phillies 2008 and 2080 World Series Championship teams were on hand to celebrate the career of former Phillies pitching great Cole Hamels, the last thing this team wanted to do was fall flat and lose the game in front of all those great Phillies and the rowdy sellout crowd that showed up and packed Citizens Bank Park on a warm June evening in South Philly. Unfortunately, the Phillies come out flat on Cole Hamels’ night.

But that’s what the not-so the Fightin Phils did, squandering opportunity after opportunity, losing to the Arizona Diamondbacks 5-4. Starter Taijuan Walker surrendered four runs early, and while the Phillies fought back to make the score 4-3 in the bottom of the seventh, they couldn’t finish rallies in the seventh and eighth innings. Walker only pitched four innings, giving up five hits, three home runs, and three walks while striking out three. Manager Rob Thomson talked about Walker’s outing.

“Well, he struggled, you know,” said Thomson, whose team has lost two in a row and is 4-6 in its last ten games. “His command was off. He was up in the zones. He was getting behind in the count. He was having to come after people and lost some command.

“But I know he’s working on it,” Thomson continued. “I know he cares and that’s why I have patience with him. I’ll probably sit down with him tomorrow to make sure he’s healthy.”

Walker was asked if he agreed with his manager that he is still struggling from toe injury and is compensating and not staying within himself.

 “It could be,” Walker admitted. “Especially when I look up and I felt 100 percent fine. My arm felt really good today…but I look up and it’s 91-92 (MPH) and I try and create more velocity and it’s not happening.”

Walker Gives Up the Long Ball

The teams traded three-and-out innings to start the game. Arizona actually recorded a hit off Walker by Gabriel Moreno, who singled to left. But Moreno was tagged out on a throw by Whit Merrifield as his attempt to stretch his hit to double failed.

The Diamondback struck first at the top of the second when Lourdes Gurriel Jr. homered (413 ft.) to deep left field. The boos poured out of the stands in the top of the third when Walker gave up a two-run home run, a 455-foot shot, to Gabriel Moreno to deep center. Corbin Carroll, who had walked, scored to make it 3-0. The booing got even louder when Walker was drilled by Joc Pederson on the next at-bat for a 427-foot homer to deep right center. It was now 4-0 in favor of the Diamondbacks. Christian Walker added to Walker’s misery when he doubled to right at the next at-bat. But the 31-year-old right-hander got Lourdes Gurriel Jr. to fly out, then struck out Jake McCarthy to end the inning. 

Chasing the Dbacks

Kyle Schwarber led off the bottom of the third with an opposite-field line-drive single off lefty Jordan Mongomery. His single was followed by a 440-foot home run blast by Trea Turner to deep left center, scoring Schwarber. Bryce Harper struck out, looking to end the inning. But the Phillies had cut the lead in half, 4-2.

The Phillies caught a break in the top of the fourth after Eugenio Suárez walked and Blaze Alexander flew out. Walker picked off Suárez at first on an efficient catch-and-tag by Harper, who looks more and more like he’s played first base his entire life. Geraldo Perdomo flew out to end the inning.

Alec Bohm started the bottom of the fourth by grounding out. Nick Castellanos walked, and then Edmundo Sosa singled. The inning looked promising. But Merrifield flew out to left, and Christian Pache left those two stranded when he struck out looking.

Spencer Turnbull

After four innings, it was Arizona 4, Phillies 2. Enter Spencer Turnbull. Turnbull gave up a single to Pederson but never allowed the Diamondbacks to get a rally started. The Phils were three-and-out in the fifth. At least fans at Citizens Bank Park got to see World Series hero Joe Blanton help the Phanatic shoot hot dogs into the stands during the break. The Diamondbacks loaded the bases on a hit and two hit batsmen, but with two outs, then Turnbull got Carroll to ground out.

Harper led off the bottom of the fifth with a ringing double to right that bounced off the railing on top of the wall and stayed in the park. Bohm then hit a shot to right that barely stayed in the park but was caught by Jake McCarthy. Castellanos struck out swinging. Then Sosa flew out to right, wasting Harper’s double. Rob Thomson tried back-to-back pinch-hit outfielders to start the bottom of the seventh.

Arizona went with reliever Kevin Ginkel on the mound. Ginkel got Brandon Marsh to strike out but walked David Dahl and Rafael Marchan. With Schwarber next up and one out, Arizona manager Torey Lovullo went to Joe Mantiply, who promptly walked Schwarber to load the bases. Turner then scrubbed a grounder to the left of second baseman Blaze Alexander. Alexander misplayed the ball and everyone was safe, Dahl scored to make the score 4-3.

Harper Missed Opportunity

These are the moments Harper tells us that come up at home games that show him and fans why he came to Philadelphia: Bases loaded, just one out, a fly ball ties the game…a hit puts the Phillies ahead. With the sellout crowd of 44,436 on its feet and howling in his favor, Harper hit a ball right back to the pitcher for an easy double play. Buzzkill, for sure. This may go down as one of the worst regular season at bats ever for Harper.   

But the Phillies had two more at bats…that’s assuming they can keep Arizona off the scoreboard. That didn’t happen. Seranthony Domínguez started the eighth and got the first two batters out. Then Alexander singled, stole second, and was knocked in by a Perdomo single. Matt Strahm came in and hit another batsman but did retire the side.

Trailing 5-3 in the bottom of the eighth, Philadelphia got one run back when Castellanos hit his tenth home run of the season. Strahm stayed in the game and was able to keep it a one-run game going into the bottom of the ninth inning but the Phils bats were silent. Reliever Paul Sewald retired the home team one-two-three, earned the save…and that was that.

By the Numbers

Turner led the Phillies, going 2 of 4 with a home run and three RBI. Sosa also had two hits. It seemed like Turner has been measuring himself on the field and on the base paths since he returned to the lineup three games ago. He was out for a while with a hamstring injury and obviously wants no part of getting reinjured. He was asked if he was indeed watching himself and maybe pacing his sprinting.

“A little bit, yeah,” Turner admitted. “I’m just trying to trust it. I think going out there and running…and what I think I’m at and coming back in here and matching the numbers up, I see there is still a little process going on. I want to pick my spots, I don’t want to go crazy, I don’t want to be stupid. I want to play as many games as possible. I felt really good but I’m just trying to be smart.”

Al Thompson
Al Thompson

Covers High School, College and Pro Sports for the last 35 years, Writer, radio host and Sports Director at WRDV Radio 89.3 FM in Hatboro, PA. Publisher, Editor of Footballstories The Magazine. Author of “The Gilmore Years.” Email Al Thompson at al.thompson@footballstories.com.

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