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Sweep leaves Phils searching for silver lining

@ToddZolecki
August 13, 2020

PHILADELPHIA -- Manager Joe Girardi discussed a sobering reality following Thursday night’s 11-4 loss to the Orioles at Citizens Bank Park. The Phillies are 5-9, despite playing just one game on the road. They have not pitched well, specifically out of the bullpen. The hitting has been inconsistent at best.

PHILADELPHIA -- Manager Joe Girardi discussed a sobering reality following Thursday night’s 11-4 loss to the Orioles at Citizens Bank Park.

The Phillies are 5-9, despite playing just one game on the road. They have not pitched well, specifically out of the bullpen. The hitting has been inconsistent at best. In the past week, Philadelphia shook up its 28-man roster with an assortment of moves, but nothing has helped. Certainly very little worked against the Orioles, who lost 108 games last season but swept the Phils in the three-game series. Things got so bad in the finale that Girardi had infielder Neil Walker pitch the final two outs of the ninth.

“It’s not going to get any easier,” Girardi said. “[Mets starter] Jacob deGrom is on the mound [Friday].”

Box score

In the past week, Philadelphia has promoted prospects Alec Bohm, Spencer Howard and Connor Brogdon and journeyman Blake Parker. The Phils optioned right-hander Nick Pivetta, whom they once considered a breakout candidate in their rotation, and left-hander Cole Irvin. They designated Nick Williams, Enyel De Los Santos, Trevor Kelley and Edgar Garcia for assignment. Williams was once a Top 100 prospect who put up promising numbers as a rookie in 2017. De Los Santos was once an intriguing pitching prospect.

Phils' top prospect Bohm doubles in debut

Philadelphia is trying a little bit of everything to improve its fortune. The club not only started Bohm at third base on Thursday, it sat first baseman Rhys Hoskins and second baseman Scott Kingery. Both are struggling.

Hoskins is expected to rejoin the lineup Friday. It is unclear if Kingery will.

“We obviously haven’t performed up to our standards; that’s for sure,” starter Jake Arrieta said. “But there’s really no time to worry about that. We just have to play better. That’s basically the bottom line. If we don’t start to play better, we’re going to be in a tough spot. We already have to catch up quite a bit. We know it’s going to be a tough road ahead.”

Dick Allen's No. 15 to be retired by Phillies

Despite the flurry of transactions and tweaks to their lineup, the Phillies have lost five of their past six games. Bryce Harper doubled and J.T. Realmuto hit a two-run home run to right-center field in the fourth inning Thursday to take a 2-0 lead. Harper tripled and Realmuto hit another two-run homer in the eighth. Realmuto has seven home runs this season.

Realmuto seems to be thriving off the “Sign J.T.!” chants he hears from fans outside the ballpark, and the love he feels across the Delaware Valley. Fans want the Phillies to re-sign Realmuto, who can become a free agent after the season.

“It’s hard not to be aware of it,” he said. “They definitely make their voices heard, and I certainly appreciate that. The passion that they have for this team, and the backing that they have had for me is obviously greatly appreciated from me, and I definitely hear it.

“Keep it up, guys.”

Arrieta retired 11 of the first 13 batters he faced, but he allowed four runs in the fifth to hand Baltimore a 4-2 lead. Vince Velasquez allowed two runs in one inning of relief. He started the season in the rotation, but Howard will start in his place Friday. Brogdon made his big league debut in the eighth. Pedro Severino hit his first pitch for a three-run home run.

The Phillies’ bullpen has a 10.13 ERA over 42 2/3 innings so far. Its 48 earned runs allowed through 14 games is the highest in franchise history, topping the previous high of 43 set in 1929. The 21 relief outings while allowing at least one earned run is also the most in franchise history through 14 games, besting the previous high of 16 set in 1994, '95, 2002 and '05.

“I think we’ve definitely played better for the most part than our record shows,” Realmuto said, “but you have to be able to pitch to win games in this league, and quite frankly, we haven’t thrown the ball well. We haven’t done well late in games in particular when we really need it. To win a division and get to the playoffs, you have to have a really good bullpen, and that’s an area that we haven’t done very well so far. We have the guys to do it. We just have to get better and get outs out there.”

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