There's no doubting the Phillies success over the first three weeks of the season, but context is important. The combined record of their opponents through the first 21 games is a woeful 58-74. That's the reality surrounding this fantastic start. It's not a slight, but reality.
Tuesday's contest with the Arizona Diamondbacks at Citizens Bank Park marked the first opportunity this season for the Phillies to face a playoff team from a year ago. The outcome was an 8-4 loss highlighted by too many strikeouts and an annoying drizzle that began in the fourth inning and lasted throughout.
"We're not going to win every night," manager Gabe Kapler said afterward. "This is good for us. We'll come back tomorrow and be ready to roll."
The loss snapped the Phillies seven-game winning streak at Citizens Bank Park, leaving the club a victory shy of the best home start in franchise history.
Vince Velasquez was impressive early but fell victim to back-to-back solo shots in the third allowing the Diamondbacks to jump to a 2-0 lead. The Phillies answered with three runs in the bottom of the frame, but Arizona chased Velasquez in the fifth with David Peralta delivering a two-run double to put the Diamondbacks up for good.
Velasquez finished the night surrendering four runs on four hits over 4 2/3 innings. He walked a pair and struck out six.
"A couple missed spots and I tried to be too fine with a couple pitches," Velasquez said (see video below). "The offense did a great job coming back and putting us back in the game, but then with 50 pitches - that long [fifth] inning with 36 pitches - it's unnecessary."
At the plate, the Phillies struck out 16 times bumping their season total to 227, the second most in the National League and fourth highest mark in all of baseball.
Kapler isn't too concerned about the strikeouts though, at least not yet.
"Part of working deep counts and seeing a lot of pitches is that you're going to go through stretches where you strike out some," Kapler said (see video). "That doesn't mean that we don't need to put the ball in play more, we do. It's absolutely a necessity, but sometimes you give credit to the opposing pitcher. [Robbie Ray] has swing-and-miss stuff, he's got a history of striking guys out, and we weren't able to put the ball on the bat as much as we could have tonight."
The two clubs resume their three-game set Wednesday with Jake Arrieta set to square off against Zach Greinke.
Nothing is on the line as of yet, but it's contests against opponents like Arizona that give you a clearer picture of how the Phillies stack up against potential playoff contenders.
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BY PATRICK GORDON
This post first appeared on Phillies News, Rumors And Analysis - Philadelphia Baseball Review, please read the originial post: here