Bullpen woes cost Phillies again as club swept by Rangers

Bullpen woes cost Phillies again as club swept by Rangers

BOX SCORE

ARLINGTON, Tex. — As Phillies players showered, dressed and hurried off for the bus to the airport late Thursday afternoon, Freddy Galvis lingered in front of his locker and stewed in the juices of the team's 15th loss in the last 18 games.

"It sucks, man," Galvis said. "That's the truth. If somebody says it's OK, it's not OK. We're (bleeping) losing a lot of games."

The latest was an 8-4 loss to the Texas Rangers (see Instant Replay). Now, the Rangers are smokin' hot. They've won nine in a row, averaging 6.5 runs and posting a 2.66 ERA over that span. While it's true that they caught the Rangers at a bad time, the Phils didn't exactly play good baseball while getting swept in Texas. They were outscored 22-8 in the series and their starting pitchers went just six, four and 4 2/3 innings, respectively, in the three games. Meanwhile, Rangers starters delivered seven innings in each game.

Thursday's game turned when the Rangers rallied for five runs in the fifth inning to erase a 2-0 deficit. Ryan Rua's three-run homer against a completely ineffective Joely Rodriguez was the game-changing blow. It was the 27th homer surrendered by the Phillies' bullpen this season, the most in baseball.

The Phillies are now 14-24, matching their worst 38-game start since 2000.

Galvis, the team's longest-tenured player, is frustrated.

"When you're losing and losing and losing …" he vented. "We have to play better baseball. We have to be on the same page. We have four months to go and if we don't start playing better, it's going to be a bad season. We have to play better, play together, fight, make pitches, get on base, move runners.

"We're not doing what it takes to win games. I'm tired of losing so many games. If somebody says it's OK, it's not OK.

"You have to know how to win, how to play 162 games. You have to stick together, play together on the field. We have a bunch of good players and a bunch of good coaches but it's just not there right now. We need to show everybody we belong here. We're not doing what we're supposed to be doing. Pitch, run, get on base, move runners. We're not doing that and that's why we're losing, losing and losing."

The Phillies have lost 15 times since winning six in a row and heading to Dodger Stadium on April 28. Thirteen of those losses have come against top competition — the Dodgers, Cubs, Nationals and Rangers. All four of those clubs made the postseason last year — the Cubs won it all — and have October hopes this season.

The rebuilding Phillies did not enter the season with October hopes.

But they were supposed to be better than this.

"We need to step it up," manager Pete Mackanin said. "We're better than what we're going through right now. But we need to execute, play better. I can't make excuses. We have to pitch better and hit better."

Maikel Franco has slumped lately. Mackanin dropped him to seventh in the order Thursday and he responded with some good swings, a hard-hit sacrifice fly to center and a homer to right as he drove in the first two runs.

But Odubel Herrera, another player being counted on for offense, has slumped badly. He went 0 for 4 with three strikeouts. He is hitless in his last 11 at-bats and is just 3 for 23 through six games on the road trip, dropping him to .242 on the season. His on-base percentage is now .298.

The Phillies are just 3-12 in the month of May. The team ERA in the month is an obscene 5.87. For the season it is 4.92, second worst in baseball.

Nick Pivetta added to that ERA during four starts with the club, but he's a rookie and he's learning. He needs to throw more strikes so he can stay in games longer. He will continue to work on that in Triple A as he was returned to the minors after Thursday's start. The Phillies will likely add a bullpen arm for a couple of days in Pittsburgh before activating starter Aaron Nola on Sunday.

Pivetta took a 2-0 lead into the fifth inning Thursday, but a one-out walk cost him a chance to finish the inning and he was lifted with two outs and 107 pitches. The move to go to the lefty Rodriguez made sense because dangerous Nomar Mazara was coming to the plate and he was just 3 for 27 against lefties. But Rodriguez walked Mazara. Then he gave up two run-scoring hits before Rua's killer homer.

Rodriguez ended up being tagged for six hits, two walks and seven runs in just two-thirds of an inning in taking the final loss of this Texas torture.

"He just didn't pitch well," Mackanin understated.

Tonight's lineup: Nick Williams, J.P. Crawford sit vs. lefty

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Tonight's lineup: Nick Williams, J.P. Crawford sit vs. lefty

With the Phillies facing lefty Alex Wood tonight, Tommy Joseph gets a rare start at first base.

It's Joseph's third start in the Phillies' last 12 games. He's become a forgotten man with the Phils' outfield fully healthy and Rhys Hoskins thriving at first base.

Pete Mackanin is using the matchup with a southpaw as a reason to get Joseph in the mix. Joseph has actually been dreadful this season against lefties, hitting just .197/.272/.410 in 135 plate appearances.

J.P. Crawford and Nick Williams have the night off.

Andrew Knapp is behind the plate to catch his second game since returning from a six-week DL stint.

1. Cesar Hernandez, 2B
2. Freddy Galvis, SS
3. Odubel Herrera, CF
4. Rhys Hoskins, LF
5. Aaron Altherr, RF
6. Maikel Franco, 3B
7. Tommy Joseph, 1B
8. Andrew Knapp, C
9. Jake Thompson, P

Phillies-Dodgers thoughts: Rhys Hoskins refuses to go into a slump

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USA Today Images

Phillies-Dodgers thoughts: Rhys Hoskins refuses to go into a slump

Phillies (60-91) vs. Dodgers (96-55)
7:05 p.m. on CSN; streaming live on CSNPhilly.com and the NBC Sports App

Well, this series hasn't gone as planned.

Despite facing Clayton Kershaw and Yu Darvish, the Phillies have beaten the Dodgers on back-to-back nights to force at least a split. 

For L.A., it continues a miserable four-week stretch. The Dodgers were 91-36 on Aug. 25 and have gone 4-19 since.

The Phillies, meanwhile, are 31-33 since the All-Star break and 17-14 since Aug. 6.

More on tonight's game and the series in general:

• Last night was yet another fantastic game for Rhys Hoskins, who hit the game-deciding three-run double, drove in four runs in all and reached base three times. 

It appeared Hoskins was going into a slump after he went 0 for 11 with six strikeouts against the Athletics this past weekend, but he's responded by reaching base in five of seven plate appearances against the Dodgers. 

Through 39 games, Hoskins has hit .299/.428/.739 with five doubles, 18 homers and 43 RBIs. He has 29 walks and 33 strikeouts.

Odubel Herrera hit his 40th double of the season last night, becoming the first Phillie since Jayson Werth in 2010 to reach 40. 

The Phils had just one player hit 40 doubles in 2008 (Chase Utley), 2009 (Jimmy Rollins) and 2010 (Werth) and then none from 2011-16.

• Another scoreless inning last night from Luis Garcia, who's allowed one run in his last 18 appearances and has a 2.43 ERA in 61 games.

Nick Williams picked up his 11th infield single of the season last night. That kind of speed will allow him to maintain a higher batting average on balls in play than most players (see story).

• The Phillies face left-hander Alex Wood, who's had a career year. Wood is 15-3 with a 2.69 ERA in 140⅓ innings this season, with 144 strikeouts, 37 walks and just 13 home runs allowed. 

Lefties and righties alike have struggled against Wood, but he's been much more hittable since the All-Star break. Wood had a 1.56 ERA in the first half and has a 4.07 ERA since.

In his last start, Wood shut out the Nationals over six innings with eight strikeouts. In his previous three starts, he allowed 12 runs and six homers in 17 innings.

• Two Phillies, in particular, have seen Wood well: Freddy Galvis is 7 for 13 with a double; Cesar Hernandez is 5 for 11 with a double and three walks. 

Jake Thompson starts for the Phillies. He's 2-2 with a 4.46 ERA in nine games (six starts). He put 10 Marlins on base in 5⅓ innings in his last start but didn't allow a run.

• The Phillies would need to go 2-9 or worse the rest of the way to reach 100 losses. If the season ended today they'd pick second in the 2018 draft. The Giants are 1½ games worse.