Phillies endure frustrating loss in series finale
Nobody seemed more upset with what happened Sunday afternoon at TD Ballpark than Phillies second baseman Jean Segura.
Well, maybe nobody other than manager Joe Girardi.
Segura and Girardi had a confrontation in the Phillies’ dugout during the 10-8 loss to the Blue Jays in Dunedin, Fla. Segura misplayed a ball in the bottom of the first inning. Girardi, who pleaded for his team on Saturday night to “just catch the ball,” said something to Segura afterward. Segura said something back. Phillies third-base coach Dusty Wathan stepped between the two as Girardi returned to his side of the dugout. J.T. Realmuto and infield coach Juan Castro stepped in, too.
Girardi had no desire to rehash the incident, while Segura declined to appear on a Zoom call with reporters.
“It was a bench conversation meant for the bench,” Girardi said.
Is this matter resolved or does he still need to figure that out?
“That’s my job,” Girardi said.
Girardi continued to be pressed about the argument, following a game in which the Phillies started without a single healthy bench player. Bryce Harper (sore right shoulder), J.T. Realmuto (sore left wrist) and Didi Gregorius (sore right elbow) never planned to play on Sunday, although Harper entered the game in the sixth for Scott Kingery, who suffered from dizziness after crashing into the right-field wall. Andrew Knapp was scratched 20 minutes before the game because of tightness in his left rib cage, too. Third-string catcher Rafael Marchan started instead.
Why didn’t the Phillies try to add a healthy player to the bench before the game?
“This was our decision,” Girardi said.
It put the Phillies in a strategic hole before Chase Anderson and the Phillies’ outfield put them in a 7-0 hole after the second inning. Kingery misplayed two balls in right field in the second. Another ball sailed over Brad Miller’s head in left.
But it was the moment in the dugout between Girardi and Segura that caught everybody’s attention.
“You can ask all you want,” Girardi said. “You got everything you're going to get about it, all right? I'm done. I know you're doing your job, but that's it.”
Asked again, Girardi said, “Next question.”
Asked about the optics of it, Girardi said, “Next question. I'm not going to talk about it. I'm not going to talk about it. Next question. You got a baseball question, ask me a baseball question.”
There were a few important baseball questions to be asked, particularly about Harper. He is not healthy. He lobbed the ball in from the outfield when Teoscar Hernández doubled in the sixth. He did not swing when he hit for the first time in the eighth.
Girardi said they told him to bunt for a hit; Harper popped out on the bunt.
But after Odúbel Herrera missed a game-tying, three-run home run with two outs by just a few feet in the ninth, Harper stepped into the batter’s box representing the go-ahead run. He swung hard at a 1-0 pitch.
“The moment he took that first swing, I said, ‘Oh, yeah. He’s fine,’” Blue Jays manager Charlie Montoyo said.
Harper struck out swinging in an eight-pitch at-bat to end the game. He seemed to be OK afterward.
“I was concerned,” Girardi said. “We talked about some different things. And I talked to Bryce and he said he wanted to try it. He was OK. So we let him do it. You know, I trust the player in that sense, and his body. I thought he had some good swings. He had a good at-bat that last at-bat. We just came up a bit short.”
No bench, no defense and the issue between Girardi and Segura overshadowed Nick Maton’s first two career home runs.
“It’s heat of the moment stuff,” Phillies first baseman Rhys Hoskins said. “We’re all competing. Everybody in the dugout wants to win the same amount, and sometimes that’s what happens.”
But clearly there are some frustrations. The Phillies failed to win a second consecutive series on the road, and their first road trip since Sept. 2019. They are hobbled and they continue to play poor defense. They entered the game 28th in MLB with minus-10 Outs Above Average, according to Statcast, and 26th with minus-11 Defensive Runs Saved, according to FanGraphs.
“No manager wants to see the plays that are being made or not being made,” Hoskins said. “He’s also fighting for us as well. He’s got our backs at every turn. It’s all we can ask.”