Phils' offense needs 'a little change of luck'

April 28th, 2021

Joe Girardi answered a couple questions about the Phillies' lineup before Tuesday’s 5-2 loss to the Cardinals at Busch Stadium.

It is a popular topic whenever the offense struggles.

Specifically, might Girardi move J.T. Realmuto from the cleanup spot into the leadoff spot to get more runners on base for Rhys Hoskins and Bryce Harper? No, Girardi said. He wants Realmuto hitting behind Harper, so teams do not automatically pitch around the lefty slugger. OK, but might he consider rearranging his 2-3-4 hitters so Realmuto hits second, Harper hits third and Hoskins hits fourth? It is a thought, Girardi said. But Hoskins has fared well in the two-hole. The same is true for Harper hitting third and Realmuto hitting fourth.

It comes down to this: The Phillies could shuffle Hoskins, Harper and Realmuto wherever they wanted and as much as they wanted, but it will not matter if others in the lineup do not hit.

“We just need a little change of luck,” Girardi said. “We need a couple bloopers, a couple slow rollers. Maybe it will get everybody going.”

The Phillies had just three hits against the Cardinals. They got a double and a single from Harper in the first and ninth innings, respectively. They got a single from Brad Miller in the third. They scored just two runs for the third consecutive game. It is the ninth time in the Phillies’ 11-12 start that they have scored two or fewer runs, which is tied for the fourth most in baseball.

It is hard to believe. Last season, the Phillies finished fifth in baseball in runs scored and slashed .257/.342/.439.

They are slashing .237/.310/.385 after Tuesday’s loss.

The crazy thing is, the Phillies rank among the top half of offenses in several categories. They finished the night ranked ninth in the Majors in batting average, 11th in on-base percentage, 13th in slugging percentage and 11th in OPS.

“It’s hard for me to really talk about what other teams are doing,” Girardi said. “But I am a little bit surprised [offense is] so down. A lot of times we’ll talk about hitters are a little bit behind when [the season] starts, but I think there are a lot of hitters way behind. And, you know, you come to work every day, you watch our guys do their work. The work is good. It’s just not translating. I mean, Alec Bohm hit two balls really well today. Nothing to show for it. He’s frustrated and understandably so. He’s hit some balls hard lately and hasn’t got anything to show for it.”

Bohm flied out to right field in the fourth inning. The ball left his bat at 101.8 mph and had an expected batting average of .770. He lined out to shortstop in the seventh. That ball left his bat at 106.2 mph with an expected batting average of .800.

Bohm is hitting .198 with a .538 OPS. He is better than that, but his struggles explain why the Phillies have not won back-to-back games since their 4-0 start. They just don’t have enough people playing well at the same time.

“It’s been for a myriad of reasons,” Girardi said. “We’ve had chances to. We haven’t come through a lot of times in the clutch. Our bullpen got disrupted with missing a couple guys. [José Alvarado] hadn’t thrown for two weeks. Archie [Bradley’s] been out two weeks. At times, it’s been our defense, but you know, obviously I believe the talent is in there. We just need to play better. We miss Jean [Segura] now. Nick [Maton’s] done a really good job of stepping up in his absence, but we need to get some other guys swinging the bat.”

Phillies right-hander Zach Eflin got charged with five runs in 6 2/3 innings, but one of those runs scored in the first when left fielder Brad Miller missed a line drive on a sliding attempt. Two more scored in the seventh when Sam Coonrod allowed a double off the top of the right-field wall to Paul Goldschmidt.

“We play 162 games,” Eflin said about the Phillies’ offense. “I’m not worried about them at all. We’re grinding out ABs. We’re seeing pitches. The tide is going to turn. It’s going to happen. We’re going to hit, we’re going to pitch, we’re going to field all at the same time, and it’s going to be pretty special.”