Defensive miscues cost Phillies chance at NL East lead; fall to Braves

Carlos Santana's errors continue to haunt Phillies
If a baseball team is to excel it needs a potent offense and quality pitching, but a competitive club also must have a strong defense with the ability to not just make the easy plays, but ultimately save runs.

Maybe it's a growing pain, but defensively the Phillies are doing the opposite of saving runs; they're giving advantages to the opponent. That was the story Tuesday night as the Braves trumped the Phillies at Citizens Bank Park, 3-1.

Carlos Santana came home on a Nick Markakis fielder's choice in the fifth, airmailing a throw over Jorge Alfaro allowing Ozzie Albies to score to give the Braves a 2-0 advantage. The error was Santana's fourth over the last four games, a feat last matched in 1990.

As a team, the Phillies rank 29th in fielding percentage (.972) and 3rd in errors committed (35). The advanced metrics show an even worse picture. Per FanGraphs, the Phillies rank 26th in defensive runs above average with -9.1 and 29th in defensive runs saved with -30. All this to say, the Phillies defense is proving to be a liability. For perspective, it's important to know a team is projected to lose one game for every -10 runs it fails to save, meaning the Phillies can attribute three losses already this year to subpar defense.

"I think the way we assess it is we have some improvements to make," Phillies manager Gabe Kapler said (see video). "We're going to work diligently to make those improvements."



Vince Velasquez needed 89 pitches to get through 4 1/3 innings, but he only surrendered one earned run while striking out nine. He showed some grit in the fourth with the bases loaded and nobody out, striking out the side to escape a potential disaster.

"He continues to take big steps forward right in front of us, grow and develop right in front of us," Kapler said. "That fourth inning was really impressive. He took deep breaths out there and was saw him continue to compose himself which is a definite indication of development."



Rhys Hoskins finished the night 0-for-4, failing to capitalize with a pair of runners in scoring position in the fifth. He's now hitting just .237 on the year.

The Phillies could have taken over first place with a win, but now reside 1 1/2 games behind the Braves in the NL East. The two clubs conclude their three-game set on Wednesday night with Jake Arrieta squaring up with lefty Luis Gohara.
_____________________________________________
Follow Patrick on Twitter: @PGordonPBR

BY PATRICK GORDON
Managing Editor
pgordon@philadelphiabaseballreview.com

No comments: