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Wild Arrieta, defensive miscues cost Phils

Three free passes, two fielding gaffes highlight crucial third inning
@paul_casella
May 15, 2019

PHILADELPHIA -- The third inning at Citizens Bank Park on Wednesday night served as a microcosm for both Jake Arrieta and the Phillies, as a whole, in their 5-2 loss to the Brewers. The veteran right-hander struggled with his control in the decisive frame, while a pair of defensive miscues

PHILADELPHIA -- The third inning at Citizens Bank Park on Wednesday night served as a microcosm for both Jake Arrieta and the Phillies, as a whole, in their 5-2 loss to the Brewers.

The veteran right-hander struggled with his control in the decisive frame, while a pair of defensive miscues ultimately resulted in a three-run inning for Milwaukee.

Box score

With the score tied at 1, Arrieta began the third by walking opposing starter Gio Gonzalez, who entered the night with an .092 career average, including .064 (6-for-94) when leading off an inning.

"No question about it, that’s the last thing you want to do," Arrieta said. "You’ve just got to put the ball in the strike zone against their pitcher."

Arrieta then worked himself into a jam by following with another walk to Lorenzo Cain.

Things spiraled from there, starting with a Christian Yelich grounder to the right side. First baseman Rhys Hoskins initially went to his right to try to make the play, but the ball was well out of his reach. César Hernández made the play deep in the hole, but he didn't have time to get the speedy Cain at second base -- and Hoskins couldn't recover in time to cover first to get Yelich.

That not only loaded the bases with no outs for Ryan Braun, but it also set the stage for one of the stranger plays this season.

Braun hit a hard grounder right at third baseman Sean Rodríguez, who fielded the ball without issue. Yet despite the bases being loaded, Gonzalez quickly retreated to the third-base bag.

Rodriguez hesitated, then -- after Gonzalez finally broke toward the plate -- he threw home to record a force out. By that point, the other runners had advanced safely, squandering any chance at a double play.

"Really unusual situation to have Gonzalez go back to the bag in that situation," Phillies manager Gabe Kapler said. "I went out and asked [home-plate umpire] Mike [Everitt] what he saw there and what he thought the rule was. If Gio goes back to the base, probably the play there is for Sean to go over and tag him, and then deal with Cain.

"Very confusing play and not one you see very often. It looked confusing to Sean, as well."

Gonzalez's own confusion triggered the whole ordeal.

"I think we confused everybody," Gonzalez said. "I was confused myself. When [third-base coach] Eddie [Sedar] told me to run, I was like, ‘Where am I going?’ Not the way I wanted it to go, but it went the right way, which was a good thing. It was huge that inning.

"[Cain] was like, ‘What’s going on?’ I confused everybody out there. I don’t know what I did, but apparently my clumsiness worked."

Instead of a routine double play -- or possibly even a triple play had Rodriguez tagged Gonzalez, touched third to get Cain, then fired to first -- the Phillies had to settle for just one out and the bases remained loaded. Arrieta followed by walking Mike Moustakas -- his third free pass of the inning -- to force in a run, and Jesus Aguilar added a two-run single to push the lead to 4-1.

"I think the turning point was the three walks I had in the third inning," Arrieta said. "…That really separated the game as far as the score goes."

The Brewers added another run in the fifth when center fielder Andrew McCutchen dropped a Moustakas fly ball, allowing Braun to score all the way from first.

Overall, Philadelphia issued seven walks and hit two batters, while also making two errors, along with multiple mental miscues. Offensively, the Phillies actually outhit the Brewers, 9-7, but they went 1-for-6 with runners in scoring position.

"I think we didn’t play a good game from most angles," Kapler said. "I don’t think we played very good defense, didn’t take advantage of good scoring opportunities and didn’t pitch as good as we can. From every angle, it wasn’t a crisp game."

Paul Casella is a reporter/editor for MLB.com based in Philadelphia. Follow him on Twitter @paul_casella.