PHILADELPHIA -- Roman Quinn trotted to the mound with the bases loaded and two outs in the top of the eighth inning Monday night at Citizens Bank Park. The Phillies had just asked the speedy outfielder to record the final four outs in the first game of a critical four-game series against the Dodgers.
It represented the lowest point in a 16-2 loss.
An embarrassing loss?
“It’s certainly not encouraging,” Phillies manager Gabe Kapler said.
The Phillies put together one of their worst performances of the season as they fell to 48-46. Dodgers fans that packed the entire second deck in right field added insult to injury, cheering loudly throughout the game. The Phillies still have a share of the second National League Wild Card, but they are 1-3 in their seven-game homestand against the Nationals and Dodgers, 15-24 since May 29 and 75-87 in their last 162 games.
Kapler did not address a team that was unable to execute in big moments and lost its focus in others.
“Those are things that I'll absorb and digest from the game and decide what steps to take tomorrow,” he said.
He did not have the answers about some of the game’s biggest moments, like why Phillies third baseman Maikel Franco failed to run on a ground ball hit to Dodgers third baseman Justin Turner with the bases loaded and two outs in the third inning. Turner’s throw to Dodgers first baseman Max Muncy pulled him off the bag, but because Franco jogged down the line, Muncy had plenty of time to recover and step on the base.
Kapler hinted that Franco could have a groin issue.
“Before I get into the details of that play, I want to talk to him,” Kapler said.
The Phillies’ night collapsed from there. They surrendered six runs in the fourth. Three runs scored on balls that never left the infield, including a safety squeeze from Dodgers catcher Austin Barnes. A fourth run scored when Barnes stole home to complete a double steal.
"That inning was kind of like Spring Training -- what we do on the backfields,” Barnes said. “A sac bunt -- a first-and-third bunt -- then we do a double steal. I thought it was great."
Alex Verdugo, who was the 10th player to bat in the inning, struck out swinging on a changeup from Phillies right-hander Zach Eflin to end the inning. Verdugo walked back to the Dodgers’ dugout, but the Phillies remained on the field for a few moments, unaware they had recorded three outs.
“That's another thing that's going to take some question-asking,” Kapler said. “I don't know what they knew and didn't know.”
“It was a long inning,” Eflin explained. “I thought it was three outs and everybody kind of stayed out there, so … I don’t know how many pitches it was, but I guess we were kind of just stuck in an inning. It happens in baseball.”
Eflin allowed seven runs, but he pitched six innings because the Phillies needed to save their bullpen for the rest of the series. Phillies starters not named Aaron Nola have a 6.87 ERA (73 earned runs in 95 2/3 innings) in 19 starts since June 15. Yacksel Ríos allowed three extra-base hits, including a two-run homer from Verdugo, in the eighth. It was the Dodgers’ fourth homer of the night. Cody Bellinger hit two and Muncy hit one, in a back-to-back effort with Bellinger's second one. Rios then hit Turner with a first-pitch slider. Home-plate umpire Doug Eddings ejected him, despite the fact it seemed obvious to everybody that Rios had no intentions of hitting Turner.
Edgar Garcia replaced Rios. He allowed one hit and walked three, forcing Kapler to use Quinn.
“When you're losing by a significant margin, you just want to turn the page and get to the next day,” Kapler said. “That's where we are right now is looking forward to the sun coming up tomorrow and getting back to work.”
The Dodgers will be waiting for them Tuesday, when the sun sets and they play the second game. They have outscored the Phillies in four games this season, 34-8.
“We went 0-3 out there in L.A., and we got beat tonight pretty badly,” Phillies right fielder Bryce Harper said. “We can’t play like that. We have to go out there and grind and get those runs in, especially against a good Dodgers team. We have to do the job.”
Will Franco be a part of it? Will Jean Segura? He was hobbling late in the game.
“We’re all calm,” Eflin said. “There’s no need to panic. We know how good we’re going to be, and it’s just going to take that one time, that one game that everything clicks, and then it’s going to be a fun rest of the year.”