Phillies’ Momentum Comes to a Grinding Halt Following Reds Rainout

MLB: AUG 13 Orioles at Phillies
PHILADELPHIA, PA – AUGUST 13: Philadelphia Phillies catcher J.T. Realmuto (10) celebrates a home run with Philadelphia Phillies right fielder Bryce Harper (3) during the game between the Baltimore Orioles and the Philadelphia Phillies on August 13, 2020 at Citizens Bank Park in Philadelphia, PA. (Photo by Andy Lewis/Icon Sportswire)

The Phillies will leave Cincinnati with a two-game split as today’s 12:35 p.m. game has been postponed due to rain. The game will be made up on Monday, June 28th. Following an 11-1 loss on Monday, the Phillies rose to the occasion on Tuesday, winning by a score of 17-3.

A Dreadful Downful for the Phillies

Philadelphia opened its series in Cincinnati with a Memorial Day afternoon contest between Vince Velasquez and Wade Miley. While Velasquez has had a great year so far for the Phillies, he regressed into his old trouble-filled ways on Monday. The right-hander threw three innings allowing six runs on five hits and three walks. The long ball hurt Vince Velasquez as both Max Schrock and Kyler Farmer took him deep for a pair of two-run home runs. Chase Anderson and David Hale did not do much better out of the bullpen for the Phillies, allowing a combined five runs in 4.2 innings.

The Phillies only managed to score one run off Wade Miley. That run was scored in the top of the third as Jean Segura hit a lead-off double into the left-field corner. He moved to third base on a Rhys Hoskins flyout before scoring on a ground-out by J.T. Realmuto. Besides a 3-for-5 day from Odubel Herrera in the lead-off spot, the Phillies could barely scrape a hit on the day.

The 11-1 loss was the Phillies’ 12th loss in the previous 17 games, a downward spiral with seemingly no end in sight. Within that stretch, the Phillies have had struggles both offensively and defensively (both epitomized by sophomore-slumping Alec Bohm). The bullpen has shown the lengths of its mediocrity, as well as the back end of the starting rotation, has also collapsed. Any hope of the Phillies’ playoff chances on the year had dwindled down to a smoldering ember.

A Sudden Spark of Hope

But then a sudden spark of hope arose Tuesday night during game two against the Reds. Aaron Nola allowed a two-run home run in the second (the third in as many days against the Phillies). Under a familiar early deficit, the Phillies’ offense woke up in the top of the third. Ronald Torreyes and Herrera each slapped solo home runs on the inning as the Phillies tied the game at 2-2.

Bohm gave the Phillies the lead in the top of the fourth, batting in Realmuto on a two-out single into left field. In the top of the fifth, Segura reached base on a two-out single into center field. After stealing second base, Segura scored on a double into left field by Hoskins, increased the Phillies’ lead to 4-2.

The Reds got one back in the bottom of the fifth inning against Nola. Nola hurled five innings on the day, allowing three runs on eight hits.

In the top of the sixth, however, the Phillies’ offense cranked it to the next level. Andrew McCutchen led off the inning with a solo home run to center field. Bohm then reached on a single before scoring on a Torreyes double into center field. Herrera then hit his second home run of the day, a two-run shot into right-center field. Jean Segura then extended the inning with a single into center field. Big Hosk wrapped out the inning with a two-run home run of his own to give the Phillies a 10-3 lead. In the inning, the Phillies scored six runs on three home runs.

The festivities continued for the Phillies in the top of the eighth inning. Realmuto reached base on a fielder’s choice before a Matt Joyce walk to put two runners on for McCutchen. McCutchen then slapped his second home run of the day to left field, increasing the Phillies’ lead to 13-3. First baseman Alex Blandino then entered the game to pitch for the Reds.

Blandino remained on the mound into the top of the ninth, allowing Travis Jankowski and Herrera to reach base on sequential singles. After two fly-outs, Realmuto loaded the bases on a walk. Matt Joyce then stepped up to the plate, smacking a grand slam into right-center field. The grand slam put the icing on the cake as the Phillies defeated the Reds 17-3.

A Strong Offensive Showing for the Phillies

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The last time the Phillies scored 17 runs in a ballgame takes us back to July 6, 2018, a 17-5 victory in Pittsburgh. Herrera and Hoskins each played in that game, combining to go 5-for-11 on the day with a home run, four runs scored, and six RBI.

Perhaps the most important line in the box score on Tuesday belongs to Alec Bohm. The 24-year old ended the month of May with an abysmal .203 average and .551 OPS on the year. He managed only one hit in his previous eight games while showing every bit of doubt and uncertainty in the field. On Tuesday, however, the third basemen went 3-for-5 with a run scored and one RBI. In the field, he pulled two double plays.

A two-home run day from Andrew McCutchen was probably enough to make Uncle Larry proud. On the day, he went 2-for-3 with two walks, two homers, two runs, and four RBI. Cutch had been in a 4-for-30 slump in the previous eight games as he found himself downgraded to the sixth spot in the lineup. The veteran’s day was his first multi-hit game since May 8th.

Rainout Halts Momentum

All of the sudden, the Phillies have some sense of momentum. Rhys Hoskins is riding a 10-game hitting streak. Odubel Herrera has tallied nine hits in five games. Even Alec Bohm’s three-hit performance on Tuesday shows signs of coming out of his slump.

“God I hope so,” responded Joe Girardi when asked if the 17-3 victory could begin the team’s turnaround on Tuesday.

And then came the rainout.

An off-day is always a risky business for a team that wants to ride the momentum. A natural pause allows a team to rest and recouperate, but also runs the risk of halting any momentum the team may have. To make matters worse for the Phillies, they now do not play again until Friday in Philly.

To make matters worse, the rescheduled game on June 28 means the Phillies will need to play 18 games in 17 days starting on June 25th, taking them into the All-Star Break.

Perhaps the Phillies can utilize the extra day’s rest as a chance to get their minds right ahead of an important nine-game homestand against the Nationals, Braves, and Yankees. But there also lies a huge risk that the momentum from Tuesday’s 17-3 game may dissipate over the next two days. And one thing is for certain: the 26-29 Phillies need every ounce of momentum they can muster.

Photo by Andy Lewis/Icon Sportswire