'It's not early': Phils 'trying to figure it out'

May 25th, 2021

This is the way it goes lately for the Phillies.

Marlins left fielder Corey Dickerson fisted a first-pitch slider to shallow left field in the second inning in the Phillies’ 9-6 loss on Monday in Miami. The flare left Dickerson's bat at 58.9 mph. A ball hit at that speed and angle has a .170 expected batting average, which means it is most often an out. Except this time the ball carried just over third baseman ’s outstretched left arm and just beyond the reach of shortstop .

The infielders nearly collided. The ball either tipped Bohm’s glove or hit Torreyes after he landed on the turf.

The ball scooted toward the left-field line.

Brian Anderson ran from first to third. Bohm’s throw to third one-hopped past . Dickerson reached second.

Anderson scored one batter later to tie the game at 1.

It seems like those in-between plays happen to the Phillies every night. Then there are the plays they absolutely should make and do not. It seems like those plays happen every night, too.

“You would think it would eventually stop,” Eflin said. “But it feels like they just keep happening.”

It is just one reason why Philadelphia (23-25) has lost seven of its last nine games to fall behind Miami (23-24) into fourth place in the National League East.

“It is not early,” Phillies manager Joe Girardi said. “It’s not late, but it’s not early. We’re in the middle of the season and we need to play better.”

The small-market Marlins might not be the team the Phillies want to face right now. Miami is 18-8 (.692) against them since June 21, 2019, but 65-109 (.385) against everybody else.

“They’re a good, scrappy team,” Eflin said. “They handle mistakes pretty well. Mistakes, as in pitches that we leave over the plate. They’re a good ballclub. But we need to take care of business. We need to get back on the winning train and get some motivation in the locker room and just take it with that.”

The Phils scored four runs in the ninth inning, but they had opportunities earlier. Marlins left-hander Trevor Rogers pitched only five innings after he had dominated the Phillies for 7 2/3 innings on Wednesday at Citizens Bank Park. He walked the first two batters he faced in the first inning on nine pitches, but the Phils failed to score. They scored one run on a two-out Torreyes single in the second and another run in the third on a two-out double.

Torreyes’ one-out error in the sixth jump-started a two-run inning. Jon Berti singled to center to put runners at the corners. Dickerson tripled to hand the Marlins a 4-1 lead. Eflin allowed four runs (three earned) on six hits in six innings, though he struck out six. allowed four runs on four hits in the seventh to put the game out of reach.

Kintzler has an 8.22 ERA this season.

“The shape of [Kintzler's] sinker is not right, and we’ve been working on it,” Girardi said. “Not only is it not sinking the way it usually does, it’s getting too much of the plate. We’re trying to figure it out.”

The Phillies need to figure out so many different things. They need Bryce Harper, J.T. Realmuto and Didi Gregorius back in the lineup. Harper could return Tuesday. Girardi did not play him the past two days, although he insisted Harper was available and he is not bothered by a sore right shoulder. Realmuto (bone bruise on his left hand) could return Saturday. Gregorius (inflammation in right elbow) could have been activated Monday, but he needs more time.

There is no question the Phillies need to improve their defense, which continues to haunt them in almost every game. They need to figure out the back end of their rotation and struggling bullpen, too.

Eflin mentioned motivation in the locker room. He said there is plenty.

“What I’m saying is, feeling the energy in the win and taking that motivation into the next game,” Eflin said. “Getting on a streak, winning three, four in a row. Taking care of series wins. That only feeds motivation. Once that stuff starts clicking and we start winning ballgames, we start blowing some guys out, the motivation is going to set in and it’s going to be a really fun time.”