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Arrieta's stormy June continues vs. Yankees

Phillies starter tagged for 6 runs (3 earned) over 5 innings
MLB.com @ToddZolecki

PHILADELPHIA -- Jake Arrieta's final start in May not only capped a terrific month personally, it helped the Phillies bounce back from a meltdown the night before against Los Angeles at Dodger Stadium. He said afterward that he relished the role of stopper.

Arrieta will need to be his own stopper now.

View Full Game Coverage

PHILADELPHIA -- Jake Arrieta's final start in May not only capped a terrific month personally, it helped the Phillies bounce back from a meltdown the night before against Los Angeles at Dodger Stadium. He said afterward that he relished the role of stopper.

Arrieta will need to be his own stopper now.

View Full Game Coverage

He allowed six runs in five innings in Tuesday night's 6-0 loss to the Yankees at Citizens Bank Park, although a big error in the third inning led to three unearned runs. It put the Yankees on the brink of a three-game sweep as Luis Severino allowed six hits and struck out nine in seven innings. It also flipped the script for Arrieta, who followed a 0.90 ERA in May with a 6.66 ERA in June.

"Putting the ball where I should put it," Arrieta said, explaining the difference between the two months. "The ball is getting hit, that's it. Making mistakes, too many mistakes. I was throwing quality breaking balls early in the count and then when I needed to go back to a similar spot or a little bit lower in the strike zone or out of the strike zone, I just put it too much in the zone and they hit it. It's a pretty simple explanation."

Video: NYY@PHI: Kapler on Arrieta's start, bullpen success

Phillies manager Gabe Kapler and catcher Andrew Knapp also believe it might just be a command issue. The stuff is there. Arrieta's fastball averaged 92.7 mph the first two months of the season. It averaged 93.4 mph in June. His swinging-strike rate is up slightly in June (9.5 percent) compared to April/May (7.7 percent).

But Arrieta got fewer ground balls in June (51.1 percent) compared to April/May (56.6 percent). His hard-hit rate also jumped from 30.1 percent in April/May to 42 percent in June. More hard-hit balls in the air is never a good thing. Arrieta allowed only two home runs in his first 10 starts this season. He allowed seven in five starts this month, including solo shots to Aaron Hicks in the first inning and Didi Gregorius in the fifth.

"Obviously, the stuff's there," Knapp said. "Just kind of lacking a little bit of sharpness going into some hitters. I don't know if it's mechanical or just bad luck. I mean, we have to play better defense behind him. That's just a fact. He got a couple ground balls today that would have helped us."

Phillies second baseman Cesar Hernandez's error on a certain inning-ending double play in the third led to the three unearned runs as the Yankees took a 4-0 lead. Arrieta has allowed 14 unearned runs this season, including eight in June. No other pitcher in baseball has allowed more than 11. No Phillies pitcher has allowed more than 14 since Paul Byrd allowed 17 in 1999.

"You can make excuses, but it doesn't change the fact that you still have to go out there and get guys out, minimize damage and move past it," Arrieta said.

Video: NYY@PHI: Santana tracks back and makes a sliding grab

Still, good defense matters. The Phillies are fifth in baseball with 57 errors. They are 29th in defensive runs saved (-57), 29th in Ultimate Zone Rating (-22.9) and 28th in defensive runs above average (-19.9), according to FanGraphs. The Phillies' outfield is 26th in outs above average (-11), according to Statcast™. Top-notch defense is critical for a pitcher like Arrieta, who typically keeps the ball on the ground and induces weak contact.

"I think it's always difficult when you get a ground ball and we're not able to make a play behind it," Kapler said. "At the same time, Jake is Jake for a reason -- because he's able to weather those kinds of storms. That's why he's so important to us because he's able to come back from those situations and get big outs. I have 100 percent confidence that the next time out he's going to be the Jake that we believe in and depend on."

Video: NYY@PHI: Williams delivers a strike to get Stanton

MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
With runners on first and second in the third, Gregorius hit a potential inning-ending double-play ball to second base. But Hernandez's throw took Phillies shortstop Scott Kingery off the bag. Kingery could not catch the ball and everybody was safe. After Arrieta struck out Giancarlo Stanton swinging for the second out, Gleyber Torres hit a ball past Maikel Franco to score two runs. Greg Bird followed with another single as the Yankees scored three unearned runs to take a 4-0 lead.

Could the defense be playing tight behind Arrieta, who was critical of the team's defense and infield positioning earlier this month?

"I don't see Scott and Cesar as playing anything but loose behind all of our pitchers," Kapler said. "In fact, I think we've seen that consistently with Scott and Cesar has been solid on defense all season long. One moment does not make a man."

SOUND SMART
• The Phillies had back-to-back sellout crowds at Citizens Bank Park for the first time since June 22-23, 2013, when they played a weekend series against the Mets. Jonathan Pettibone and John Lannan started those games for the Phillies.

• Knapp is hitting .320 (8-for-25) with three doubles, two home runs and four RBIs in his last eight games. He has an extra-base hit in three consecutive games, which is a career best.

HE SAID IT
"As far as I look at it, it's a series at the end of June. It's a big one. They're a good team. You obviously want to beat them, but you want to beat everyone you play. Trying to maintain our position in the division, dropping two in a row to these guys is tough, but they flat-out beat us. We'll look to return the favor tomorrow." -- Arrieta, on this series being billed as a measuring stick for the Phillies

UP NEXT
Phillies right-hander Zach Eflin (5-2, 3.42 ERA) faces Yankees right-hander Luis Cessa (0-0, 3.00) on Wednesday (7:05 p.m. ET) in the series finale at Citizens Bank Park. Eflin is 4-0 with a 2.28 ERA in four starts this month, striking out 22 and walking four in 23 2/3 innings.

Todd Zolecki has covered the Phillies since 2003, and for MLB.com since 2009. Follow him on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.

Philadelphia Phillies, Jake Arrieta