October 4, 2023

Takeaways after Phillies waste another Zack Wheeler gem with poor offense


AP Photo/Matt Slocum

The pitching matchup between Max Scherzer and Zack Wheeler was as good as advertised. 

But it didn’t produce the result Philadelphia Phillies fans wanted on the night Citizens Bank Park opened to full capacity.

Wheeler and the Phillies lost the opener of a three-game series against the Washington Nationals, 2-1, on Friday night.

A crowd of 15,030 saw the Phillies play their 19th one-run game of the season. The Phils are 10-9 in those games and 26-30 overall. 

Here’s three takeaways:

Wheeler’s gem

Wheeler pitched very well for the Phillies. The right-hander allowed just two runs over 7 1/3 innings. He scattered five hits, one of which was a homer.

The loss was Wheeler’s first as a Phillie in 14 starts at Citizens Bank Park. He entered the game 7-0 with a 2.14 ERA in 13 starts as a Phillie at home.

Wheeler has a 2.51 ERA in 12 starts this season, but his record is just 4-3. He has frequently been a victim of poor run support and was again in this one. He entered the night receiving an average of just 3.48 runs per game. That ranked 100th out of 123 qualifying starters in major league baseball.

Running miscues

Rhys Hoskins gave the fans some hope when he led off the bottom of the ninth inning with a double against reliever Daniel Hudson.

Travis Jankowski, called up last week from AAA, was called upon to pinch-run for Hoskins as J.T. Realmuto came to the plate.

The air came out of the ballpark when Jankowski misread a ball in the dirt and was a dead duck between second and third. Realmuto then struck out and closer Brad Hand came on to finish off the Phillies.

Jankowski’s base running mistake was just the latest instance of this Phillies team beating itself in 2021.

Scherzer remains great vs. Phillies

The Phillies hadn’t played in two days because of a rainout Wednesday and a scheduled off day Thursday night. They put 17 runs on the board in a blowout of the Cincinnati Reds on Tuesday night, but cooled off in a big way Friday night. 

Scherzer had a lot to do with that. He held the Phillies to five hits and a run over 7 2/3 innings. He walked one and struck out nine.

The three-time Cy Young winner is 6-1 in nine starts at Citizens Bank Park and 12-4 in 22 career starts against the Phillies overall.  

Up next

The series continues Saturday afternoon. Spencer Howard opposes Nationals’ right-hander Joe Ross.

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