The Phillies lost a brutal game to the St. Louis Cardinals on Saturday. From start to finish the team was playing from behind, and they made it just close enough to keep us interested before blowing it in the end.
The offense was rock solid as usual, but the pitching completely cratered. The ever-mediocre Kyle Gibson fell flat on his face out of the gate, surrendering back-to-back-to-back-to-back homeruns in the first inning. You read that right: the Cardinals launched FOUR STRAIGHT homers in the first inning.
Gibson settled down a bit after his disastrous first frame, but ran into trouble once again in the fifth. After Gibson loaded the bases without recording an out, Interim Manager Rob Thomson turned to deposed closer Corey Knebel to work out of the jam.
Knebel almost pulled off a miracle, as he struck out the first two batters he faced. Then, he did what he does best and walked in a run. It was a completely inexcusable performance from Knebel, who has now issued 24 free passes across 32.0 innings pitched this year. His season ERA looks decent at 3.38, but he’s allowed far too many inherited runners to score through his complete inability to hit the strike zone.
The Phillies’ offense did a hell of a job today, as they tied the game up at five after Gibson let them down, and then they managed to scratch another one across in the sixth to make it a 6-6 ball game. Nick Castellanos, Alec Bohm, Odúbel Herrera and Yairo Muñoz all collected multiple hits, while super utilityman Matt Vierling notched two clutch sacrifice flies to go with two walks.
Despite the offensive heroics, it wasn’t quite enough, as Nolan Arenado continued his torrid stretch with a ninth inning solo shot off of Seranthony Domínguez to give the Cardinals a 7-6 lead. The game was over after that as ace reliever Ryan Helsley closed things out to hand the Phils a loss.
It was a tough game to watch. As has happened too often this year, it took over four hours for the Phillies to lose. And as they’re wont to do, they gave us enough hope to get excited, but snatched defeat from the jaws of victory. On the bright side, the offense is still clicking despite Bryce Harper’s absence.
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The blame for this Phillies loss to the Cardinals lies squarely on the shoulders of Kyle Gibson. Sure, two of the four homers he gave up were wall scrapers. But that happens in the big leagues. He left too many hittable pitches in the zone and a good Cardinals team made him pay for it. He allowed nine baserunners over only 4.0 innings, and his season ERA now sits at 4.91. With the trade deadline coming in 31 days, the Phillies need to explore the starting pitching market. If they can find an upgrade over Gibson, their playoff chances will look a lot better.