SAN DIEGO — As a general principle, Phillies manager Gabe Kapler believes the No. 2 and 4 spots in a batting order should be reserved for a team's two best hitters. But on the Phils' just-completed six-game trip out West, their No. 2 and 4 hitters combined to go 4 for 43 with 10 strikeouts.
Needless to say, Rhys Hoskins and Carlos Santana have had better weeks.
It was little wonder, then, that the Phillies generated a total of only 15 runs in the six games against the Arizona Diamondbacks and San Diego Padres. They went 5 for 41 with runners in scoring position and scored a run in only seven of the 59 innings in which they batted. At one point, they went 19 innings without a run.
Kapler had a cross-country flight Sunday night and can use the day off Monday to decide whether to shuffle the batting order before the Boston Red Sox bring baseball's best record (85-35) into Citizens Bank Park. But he has been fairly consistent about Hoskins' and Santana's places in the order. Hoskins has batted second in all but one of the last 55 games, while Santana has been the cleanup hitter in 54 of his last 58 starts.
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"We're constantly creating a balance between what will make guys feel inspired and confident and what it looks like on paper if you just look at matchups and performance," Kapler said. "It's something we're going to continue to look at every single day. Carlos, in isolation, has had a very good year, and we continue to believe he's one of our biggest power threats and one of our biggest on-base threats. We certainly don't think he's out of place in the four-hole in our lineup."
Santana went 1-for-4 with an RBI double in Sunday's 9-3 loss to the Padres and finished the trip 3 for 22 with four walks and five strikeouts. He hasn't hit for average all season (he's down to .215), but has reached base at a good clip because of his prolific walk total (88).
Lately, though, Santana said he has chased some pitches that he might ordinarily lay off because he either isn't making contact with the ones he wants or simply is not getting them.
"I'm missing my pitch, and when you miss your pitch, that happens," he said. "Sometimes I try too much. Everybody knows and they're not throwing very good pitches. But I have a month and a half of season to try to do a good approach and feel better."
Santana said he doesn't prefer a particular spot in the batting order and wouldn't balk if Kapler takes him out of the cleanup spot.
"I mean, I know I'm struggling a little bit," Santana said, "but I'm keeping my mind strong and I'm fighting."
Hoskins has fallen into an even deeper funk. He went 1-for-21 with five strikeouts on the road trip and has one hit in his last 27 at-bats overall, although Kapler said the slugger continues to look "very comfortable and confident at the plate."
"It's been a good while that Rhys has had good at-bats and stung the baseball," Kapler said.