Game recap: Phillies drop Finale to Cardinals, lose 5-4

Philadelphia Phillies’ Edmundo Sosa loses his bat after striking out during the sixth inning of a baseball game against the St. Louis Cardinals, Saturday, June 1, 2024, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Derik Hamilton)

Philadelphia hosted the St. Louis Cardinals for Lou Gehrig Day on Sunday. The game was broadcast on ESPN’s Sunday Night Baseball, and featured many highlights of the team and the league’s efforts to spread information and raise money to support ALS research.

Looking for their eighth sweep of the season tonight, the game would go to extra innings, and the final out was made in a drizzle as the Phillies fell to the Cardinals in the series closer with a final score of 5 to 4. It was a weird one, as all of Philly’s runs were unearned, neither starting pitcher made it past the fifth inning, and the Phillies all-but emptied their bench due to some injury news both before and during the game. Let’s see how we got there.

Walker’s woes continue

A hot topic of conversation this season has been the performance of tonight’s starter, Taijuan Walker. After a decent start to his season, things have started to go south for the veteran right-hander. Walker has given up runs in the first inning in four of his seven starts in 2024. He was hit hard all night. Of the 15 balls Cardinal hitters put in play against him – six had an exit velo of 100+ MPH, 10 were struck 93+ MPH, and his splitter continued to get hammered. 

Walker gave up two home runs – one in the first and one in the third. His command was not there again as he threw just 60.2% of his pitches for strikes. Walker finished his night after five innings, allowing four runs on five hits and three walks. He struck out five, three of which came on the splitter . But when contact was made, it was hit hard.

Fans voiced there displeasure with Walker’s performance often tonight, as well.

One positive – he struck out Paul Goldschmidt all three times he faced him. Goldschmidt was 5-for-10 with three doubles, a homer, and five RBIs against Walker coming into tonight

When opportunity knocks…

…the Phillies offense has seemed to take advantage. All four runs scored against Lynn were unearned. Nick Castellanos reached base on an error that should’ve been a double-play in the second. Catcher Garrett Stubbs would knock in a run on a double to right-center, followed by a ground-out by Johan Rojas to send Casty home and tie the game at two.

In inning No. 5, they would once again take advantage of the Cardinals defensive mistakes. Stubbs tried to get on via a bunt, but a throwing error by Lynn allowed him to reach first. On the next pitch, Rojas also tried a bunt-hit, but a throwing error by catcher Ivan Herrera resulted in two runners on. Schwarber lofted the first pitch he saw to to right field to load the bases with no outs. 3 pitches – 3 runners.

Philadelphia Phillies’ Bryson Stott hits a run-scoring single against San Francisco Giants pitcher Mitch White during the second inning of a baseball game, Saturday, May 4, 2024, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

Bryson Stott decided to take one before depositing a liner in left field, driving in 2 runs and tying up the score once again. Later in the inning, Bohm drove one deep to right-center that Schwarber thought initially was falling in. Despite being well off the bag, he was able to hustle back to second base and successfully tag up to advance to third base with 2 outs. Stott eventually stole 2nd base behind him.

That type of hustle doesn’t show in the box score, but means a lot to your team and puts added pressure on the pitcher and catcher. Although neither man scored, that type of hustle from Kyle is huge and the type of heads-up play you must make come crunch time when your singular goal is winning it all.

Injury bug bites Phillies again

After last night’s injury scare when pitcher Ranger Suarez was struck by a line drive, the Phillies felt fortunate that his X-rays came back negative. He was even jovial in the locker room with the media. Edmundo Sosa was checked on bby trainers in the ninth inning but remained in for the finish of the game.

Sunday afternoon came around, and Kody Clemens was penciled into the lineup pregame and the Phillies hottest hitter in Sosa, was absent. Rob Thomson spoke about that prior to the game:

He’s fine. This is precautionary. He’s had hamstring issues in the past. Just want to make sure we calm it down, and nothing happens…we don’t need any more hamstrings.

About an hour prior to first pitch, Clemens was then scratched with what the club said was “back spasms.” That forced Whit Merrifield into the starting lineup, playing second base while Bryson Stott manned shortstop. Postgame, Rob Thomson added about Clemens that his back locked up on the last swing of BP and was not available for the game. Things would not stop there.

Philadelphia Phillies’ Kody Clemens, center, is doused by Bryson Stott after the Phillies won a baseball game against the Washington Nationals, Saturday, May 18, 2024, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

In the eighth inning, Brandon Marsh laced an offering from Andrew Kittredge into left field, but appeared to wince after making contact with the first base bag. He stayed in, and after a milestone knock from Nick Castellanos he ended up on second. Unfortunately, after he hit the second base bag he immediately hopped on his left foot bag to the bag and motioned to the bug out for attention.

As trainers approached, he tapped the back of his right leg and left with what the club said was a “right hamstring strain.” After the game, Thomson said there was no update at this time and we would know more tomorrow but did confirm the right hamstring injury.

Other notes

Nick Castellanos recorded two hits in the game, reaching the 1,500 hit milestone for his career. He becomes the 668th player to reach that milestone in major league history.

Matt Strahm continued his dominance this season. He pitched the sixth inning and struck out one in a three-up, three-down outing. He extended his scoreless innings streak to 24, and lowered his ERA to 0.75 on the year.

There were a few great defensive plays from the Phillies Sunday night, but maybe none were as exciting as the play from Alvarado in the top of the ninth:

Alvarado’s celebrations are everything

Philadelphia welcomes the Brewers to town for next three days and with them comes former first baseman Rhys Hoskins. The fan favorite mentioned earlier this year that he expects to be booed when he returns to Citizens Bank Park, but Rob Thomson disagreed when asked about Rhys’ return on Saturday. He said “he should get a huge ovation, and I’m sure our fans will. Such a great guy, such a big part of what we did in ’22.”

Thomson was not thinking of going to Realmuto as a pinch hitter in an effort to give him a true day off, and he also was trying to not use Sosa or Clemens due to their unexpected injuries (both players are considered day-to-day). Unless there were another injury or an “emergency,” they were down to effectively no bench players.

Photo Credit: AP Photos/Derik Hamilton