SAN FRANCISCO — Odubel Herrera and Carlos Santana reached base to start the eighth inning of a 6-1 loss to the Giants on Sunday. A month ago, that may have felt like the start of a rally.
But if you've been watching the Phillies recently, there was little reason to believe this situation would yield runs. Nick Williams, Jorge Alfaro and Scott Kingery went down on a combined 10 pitches. The rally was finished without a threat.
The Phillies left eight runners on base Sunday and went 0 for 6 with runners in scoring position. They had just 15 hits in the three-game series, went 0 for 17 with runners in scoring position and and have gone 29 innings without a run from a position player after the lone run of the series was a solo homer by Jake Arrieta.
"Everything is fine. Everything is fine," Santana said. "We don't have to change. It was a bad series. That happens. You know? It happens. The Giants, they are playing well. Right now, the last three games, that happens. I know we lost this series, but it's in the past. We'll come play the Cubs. New week. New series. So we're fine. We're fine."
The Phillies certainly do not look fine. They built their offense around grinding out at-bats and working long counts in the hopes that they would wear down pitchers and force mistakes. The lineup has seemed to abandoned that mind-set.
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Scott Kingery said he's not sure why things changed. It's hard to explain, he said. Manager Gabe Kapler said over the weekend that the Phillies have the best hitting coach in baseball in John Mallee. He called Mallee the team's "hitting leader" and is confident that he "will lead them in the right direction."
"I don't have an ounce of concern long-term," Kapler said, "because we have the same group of talented individuals that we had when we were working deep counts, scoring more runs, having more success, making more solid contact. To take it to a statistical place, we have strong expected outcomes going forward. I don't even think that's necessary to dive into, but we have the same personnel and deep lineup we had before, minus Rhys [Hoskins], and he's not far away, either. So for all of those reasons, I'm not concerned about the long-term prospects of this offense."
Perhaps the outcome of Sunday's game would have been altered if the Phillies were able to score a run in the first inning. Santana sliced a two-out fly down the third-base line but hesitated before running toward first. He thought the ball was foul and had to settle for a single after it dropped into play. If he was standing on second instead of first, Santana may have scored when Nick Williams blooped a single into shallow center. An early run may have been enough to revitalize the struggling offense.
"Carlos has among the biggest hearts in this clubhouse, he works as hard as anybody and he brings it every day," Kapler said. "I think he thought that ball was going to be foul. Independent of that, our job is to bust it out of the box every single time if we think it's going to be a foul ball or not. In this case, I think we give a guy who works his butt off the benefit of the doubt."