Thanks to the Rays offense (or lack thereof), watching and recapping this game has been quite easy.
Game time: 2 hours 17 minutes
Rays offense: a few scattered hits and a Franco solo homerun.
Aaron Nola has not had a stellar season, but today he looked like the All Star Cy Young contender he had been several years ago. Lucky us.
Eflin also was quite effective today. Seven innings, four hits, nine strikeouts and no walks. But those four hits he gave up were clustered together to produce two runs whereas The Rays six hits and one walk were scattered across the game. Whether the difference is luck or “clutch” or something in between I don’t know, but it meant the Rays lost and the Phillies won.
The Phillies scored their first run on two doubles in the second inning. They looked like they might blow the game open in the seventh. Eflin had been pitching brilliantly, but gave up an one out double to Bryce Harper. He got to third (and Realmuto to first) when Franco bobbled a routine ground ball, and scored when Bryson Scott singled. Eflin then hit a batter to load the bases, but retired the next two batters. The Phillies 2-0 lead, however, seemed pretty insurmountable.
We know that Cash won’t use his best bullpen arms even down just a run or two, so we were not surprised to see Eflin give way to Jalen Beeks in the eighth. And we were also not surprised to see Beeks give up a leadoff single to Kyle Schwarber, He did get the next two outs, but then Bryce Harper hit a ball deep to right field. Josh Lowe seemed to do a good job tracking it to the wall but then seemed, at the last minute, to whiff on the actual catch. As Schwarber had been running on contact and the ball was in the air for a long time, Schwarber was able to score to put the Phillies ahead 3-0.
The Rays finally got on the board in the eighth, as Wander Franco hit a solo home run. That ended Nola’s otherwise strong day
The Phillies brought in old friend Jose Alvarado to pitch the eighth innings, and I was really hoping that being back in Tropicana Field would allow him to channel some of his less effective Rays performances. Can we have a walk or two? A couple of wild pitches maybe? But no, after giving up a single he got two quick outs. With Kimbrel on for the save, the Rays went quietly in the ninth inning.
I’m generally pretty upbeat about this team’s ability to bounce back, but this most recent three-game losing streak is pretty demoralizing.
On a happier note, Wander Franco has been chosen to replace the injured Aaron Judge on the American League All-Star team, so the Rays will be well represented in Seattle.