October 4, 2023

Takeaways after Zack Wheeler strikes out 14 but Phillies aren’t able to hold on in loss


Photo via rds.ca

Despite a career-high 14 strikeouts from Zack Wheeler on yet another dominant afternoon, the Philadelphia Phillies lost their series opener to the Tampa Bay Rays, 5-3, in Tampa.

The winning run for the Rays was set up in the eighth inning when Randy Arozarena beat out an infield single and advanced two bases on a wild pitch by Sam Coonrod. Jose Alvarado entered and allowed a game-winning single to Austin Meadows on an 0-2 count before hitting a batter and walking in an insurance run.

The loss dropped the 25-27 Phillies to 10-17 on the road. Only the Texas Rangers, Arizona Diamondbacks, and Colorado Rockies have been worse away from home.

Here’s three takeaways:

Zack. Wheeler

Wheeler is on a remarkable roll. A start after matching a career-high in strikeouts set eight years ago, he blew past it. 

In his last five starts, Wheeler has a 1.49 ERA and 0.74 WHIP with 51 strikeouts in 36⅓ innings. The Phillies are 4-1.

Wheeler is the first Phillie since Curt Schilling in 1998 to strike out at least 10 hitters in three consecutive starts.

He did give up the three runs, two of them on one swing from Meadows in the first inning, but the Phillies fought back from a pair of deficits and the game was tied after seven.

Ugly offensive performance

It was another unsightly offensive performance for the Phillies with 15 strikeouts and just five hits. It doesn’t seem to matter who the starting pitcher is, the Phillies are going to strike out.

Their opponent in this one was lefty Ryan Yarbrough, who had struck out six hitters in his last 12 innings and 6.9 per nine innings the last two seasons. Naturally, he had seven strikeouts through four innings against the Phillies.

It also happened last week with Boston Red Sox left-hander Martin Perez, a contact pitcher who set a season-high with seven strikeouts against the Phillies.

It’s one thing when it’s Jacob deGrom or Garret Cole. It’s another when it’s Ryan Yarbrough and Martin Perez.

The Phillies entered the day with 20 more strikeouts than any National League team.

Quinn’s injury

Outfielder Roman Quinn fell rounding third base on a two-run double by Ronald Torreyes Saturday and had to be helped off the field with an Achilles injury.

Quinn fell to the ground just past third base at Tropicana Field in Tampa but got up and hopped on one foot to score as the Phillies tied the game.

“It doesn’t look good,” Phillies manager Joe Girardi said after the game, a 5-3 loss. “I don’t expect to get any good news from the MRI. We’re pretty sure it’s not good.”

Mickey Moniak is on the Phillies’ 40-man roster, while Adam Haseley continues to work his way into game shape after leaving the team in mid-April for personal reasons.

Quinn was just activated by the Phillies Tuesday when Bryce Harper went on the injured list with a forearm contusion.

Quinn has been plagued by injuries throughout his career. Over the years, he has missed significant time with a torn quadriceps, a torn Achilles tendon, a strained elbow ligament, a torn ligament in his middle finger, a concussion, a broken toe, a groin strain, and an oblique strain. This season, he’s dealt with separate injuries to his finger and Achilles.

“He’s been playing well for us,” Girardi said. “He gets a freak injury with the stitches in his finger and now this. I feel for the kid, I really do. We’re going to miss him.”

Quinn makes $578,000 this season, his last before three years of arbitration eligibility.

Up next

The quick two-game series ends with Sunday afternoon. Zach Eflin pitches for the Phillies, while the Rays haven’t named a starter.

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