What can even be said about the last three weeks? Phillies baseball came back to us, it went away for a week, and came back again.
In case you missed it, the Phillies opened the season in familiar 2019 form, dropping two of three in a series with the Miami Marlins. Making it sting a little bit more was that the Marlins then turned in 18 positive COVID-19 tests within a week of wrapping that series up. Did we really just lose two games to the Marlins while they were sick with COVID-19?
Where the Phillies really lost was in the poor decision making of the Marlins players to in choosing to go out clubbing after an exhibition game in Atlanta prior to bussing up to Philadelphia to open the season, as well as the Marlins choosing to take the field against the Phillies knowing they had positive cases in the clubhouse. This resulted in the Phillies being possibly mass-exposed to the very virus that caused all the delays and problems we are all facing. To say I personally was upset would be a dramatic understatement.
Fast forward eight days from Sunday July 26, the Phillies are very fortunate to have only one member of the coaching staff who tested truly positive. The team was cleared to resume baseball activities once again. We can expect to see similar situations crop up again this season while trying to play sports amid the pandemic.
The Phillies had to postpone a pair of series against the Yankees and Blue Jays while letting time pass to ensure everyone’s safety. When finally resuming play on Monday in the Bronx against the Yankees and ace Gerrit Cole the Phillies and their cold bats sent the arm of Jake Arrieta out for his first start of the season.
If you told me a year ago this was what the club would find itself up against, I’d have bet a lot of money on a 14-2 blowout loss to the Yankees. Except (spoiler alert) it wasn’t.
I fully understand that in a 60-game series there is no room for a moral victory. But what else do you want to call what happened on Monday? The Phillies weren’t even three games into the season when sent home to chill out. None of the players are in any kind of rhythm and the layoff dust hasn’t even blown off.
Arrieta only allowed three runs over five innings against what was a red-hot Yankees team that already had nine games under their belts. Cole only allowed just one run, a solo home run from Phillies’ DH Jay Bruce.
The game didn’t really blow open until Deolis Guerra took over for Arrieta, giving up three runs in no time. Adam Morgan took over, and with two pitches closed out the inning, sending the game into a rain delay. Resuming about 90 minutes later, nothing else really notable happened other than the Yankees didn’t score again. The Phillies managed to tally up two more runs, ending the game at 6-3 in favor of the hosts.
Here are your actual true takeaways: Arrieta looked pretty good. This was his first major league start since 2019, when he went down with an elbow injury the required surgery to remove a bone spur. He went five innings, allowing seven hits and three runs. No, those are not great stats. But just remember – elbow surgery, COVID-19 delay 1, COVID-19 exposure delay 2, and the *beeping* Yankees are hitting out of their minds right now.
Cole had 10 of his pitches hit with an exit velocity of 95 mph or higher. He was fortunate that the Phillies didn’t score more. Arrieta had only eight such pitch results. The Yankees scored three runs off Arrieta, three off of Guerra, and none off Morgan, Tommy Hunter (who had a pretty sweet defensive response to a bunt) or Jose Alvarez.
The bats appeared lukewarm, which was also pleasantly surprising. We are still waiting for Rhys Hoskins, which has been frustrating and exhausting. Scott Kingery still has some potential to unlock as well. But overall, a 6-3 loss to the Yankees, all things considered, isn’t really that bad.
Though Tuesday’s game was postponed early due to an approaching hurricane storm remnant, it appears that the Phillies season is underway once again. Let’s hope there are no further delays and postponements.