Nick Pivetta and the Phillies fell to the Giants
The Phillies offense set an ominous franchise record on Friday night, marking the sixth consecutive contest with 10 or more strikeouts. This time it was 13.

It was that type of night.

The Giants collected a pair of runs early and the Phillies bats never recovered en route to a 4-0 loss in the series opener at AT&T Park.

Over the last seven days, the Phillies .222 batting average is worst in the National League. Their 29.2 percent strikeout rate at the plate is the worst in the Majors.

It's becoming more of a concern, especially considering the Braves now have a two-game lead in the division and the Nationals have leapfrogged the Phillies for second place.

“I think it’s probably less about the strikeouts and more about the fact that we’re not squaring the baseball up very consistently over the last week or 10 days,” manager Gabe Kapler said afterward (see video). “I think we can do a better job of, at the end of at-bats, putting the ball in play. I don’t think that disputable. But I just think at the end of the day this is just about getting on base. We’re probably not doing quite enough of that right now.”

Dylan Cozens, making his big league debut, swung at the first pitch he saw and singled to right. That was about the only highlight on the night for the Phillies.

Nick Pivetta pieced together a pedestrian performance on the mound, tossing just four innings while surrendering three runs on five hits. He also walked three.

Hector Neris struggled in relief again, allowing three hits and a run over an inning of work. His ERA on the year now sits at 5.06.

Back to the offense, Kapler noted earlier in the year he would be content with high strikeout rates if it also meant players were working walks and being more selective at the plate. That philosophy worked throughout much of the first month of the season, but plate discipline right now is a serious concern.

According to FanGraphs, the Phillies have the highest strikeout rate over the last two weeks in the Majors (28.5 percent) and the walk rate (7.9 percent) ranks 17th in baseball. Toss in the fact the Phillies are seeing significantly fewer pitches at the plate over the last two weeks and it's no wonder the bats have fallen silent.

“The only way we can say that the strikeouts are not a negative if, is at the end of those long counts, every once in a while we’re hitting a home run or we’re drawing a walk,” Kapler said. “We’re not seeing that come together recently. It’s just a small stretch of that happening. I’m not concerned about it long term. But there’s no disputing that recently the performance at the plate has not been optimal.”
Follow Patrick on Twitter: @PGordonPBR

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