Phillies Continue Season-Opening Embarrassment Against Rangers

I yet again need to remind myself and anyone reading this that we’re only two games into the season. This Phillies team is good. This Phillies team will contend for a World Series this year. This Phillies team will make the playoffs. But they sure don’t like it when they play the Texas Rangers. 

Saturday’s absolute clunker against the Texas Rangers was a mere continuation of Thursday’s season-opening implosion. They couldn’t field, and they couldn’t pitch. That’s the bottom line. 

The universally-reviled CB Bucknor was behind home plate in this one, and he was in peak form missing calls north, south, east and west. He squeezed Zack Wheeler in a crucial Adolis García walk, and he rang up Brandon Marsh twice on pitches well out of the strike zone. While everyone around the league knows Bucknor should never work another game again, the Phils can’t blame him for all of their troubles. 

Wheeler, who has been a Cy Young-caliber hurler in recent years, laid a true stinker by surrendering seven hits and five runs (four earned) in only 4.1 innings pitched. Bullpen newcomer Yunior Marte compounded matters by coughing up two more runs on two hits and a walk, while recording only two outs. 

Last year’s comeback story José Alvarado settled things down with a scoreless sixth inning to keep the Phils within striking distance down 7-3. However, the floodgates once again opened up, surprisingly at the hands of the often-dominant Seranthony Domínguez. The Rangers absolutely strafed Domínguez to the tune of SIX earned runs on six hits and one walk, while he failed to record an out. It was a truly pitiful performance from the most important piece in the Phillies bullpen. Unfortunately, it simply carried on the misery that Phillies pitchers have displayed over this season’s first two games. 

Andrew Bellatti tossed a scoreless inning in relief of Domínguez, but the track meet resumed in the eighth when $10 million man Craig Kimbrel walked two and gave up a hit, leading to another three runs for the Rangers. That score would hold, as Texas would finish things off for an easy 16-3 drubbing of our Phils. 

There were a few bright spots on offense at least. Trea Turner had another triple in a two-hit afternoon. Darick Hall added two base knocks of his own, collecting a single and a double. Nick Castellanos did the same, and Bryson Stott notched two hits as well. While the Phils only scratched across three runs, they did well to collect nine hits and three walks in a game where horrendous umpiring forced them to swing at anything remotely close or be struck out looking, like Marsh and Castellanos. 

Phillies fans are outraged over the reprehensible start to the 2023 season, and justifiably so. No, there’s no reason to jump off any ledges yet. This team still has 160 games to get right, and it’s almost a certainty that they will. But, this squad hasn’t just lost their first two games in a normal manner. They’ve put on a truly pathetic display of baseball that is reminiscent not of the 2022 National League champions, but of Joe Girardi’s woeful squad throughout April and May.

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