If the Philadelphia Phillies have any hope in keeping up with the rest of the loaded National League East division, they can’t keep repeating what just happened during opening week.
An 11-6 loss to the Miami Marlins on Sunday ensured that the Phillies dropped their first series of the season — something that is magnified, yet easily overturnable, given the shortened 60-game MLB schedule this season.
However, the Phillies need to take advantage of the weaker teams on their schedule, because they come few and far between.
Dropping two-of-three to the Marlins is a harsh pill to swallow considering Miami is one of the worst teams in baseball — at least, that’s what was expected of them in 2020 following a dreadful 57-105 campaign in 2019.
Yet the Phillies have had problems with the NL East minnows, going 9-10 in 19 games last season before this opening-series stumble.
Phillies pitching gave up crooked numbers in three innings on Sunday, allowing a rare offensively affluent day for a Marlins team that scored 11 or more runs just seven times in 162 games last season.
It will continue to raise questions about the Phillies’ pitching staff, specifically No. 3 starter Vince Velasquez, who was tagged for four earned runs on three hits in just three innings of work on Sunday.
The 28-year-old, who entered the scene in Philadelphia in 2016 with such promise, had a 4.70 ERA in four years with the club that included a bullpen demotion next season.
Things ramp up incredibly quickly for the Phillies, who will have to be nearly perfect to ensure the start of the 2020 season doesn’t avalanche out of control.
Monday night brings a visit from the New York Yankees for a four-game series before they head up to Buffalo to play the Toronto Blue Jays — who gave the 96-win Tampa Bay Rays a handful over the weekend behind the stellar young trio of Cavan Biggio, Bo Bichette and Vladimir Guerrero Jr.
Not a particularly easy seven-game stretch, but the Phillies can take some solace in knowing that their offense isn’t taking much time to come around, even if it came against mundane Marlins pitching.
Didi Gregorius is enjoying a hot start to his Phillies career, socking two home runs in the weekend series, while Adam Haseley went 4-for-6 from the lead-off spot in the series finale.
Bryce Harper also got off the mark with a mammoth first-inning home run on Sunday to give the Phillies a quick four-run lead before Velasquez gave it all back.
Home run No. 220 of Harper’s career was his 218th as an outfielder, tying him with Willie Mays for the fifth-most such round-trippers before age 28 in National League history.