Philadelphia Phillies return to pivotal action in game…four?

The Phillies strange early season in the pandemic year shoved them into a corner to fight out a pivotal battle against the dreaded Yankees.

For a fan of the Philadelphia Phillies, a team whose season was paused for a week, watching the Aug. 2 contest between the Yankees and Red Sox can’t have been pleasant. A new observer of the 2020 Bronx Bombers had to be literally assailed by the question, “How can a team’s whole lineup hit the ball this hard?”

How far did that one Aaron Judge homer go? (He hit two, totaling six in his last five games.) The 1-2 Phillies would return to action the following night against the 7-1 New Yorkers.

Worse, the Phillies would send out Jake Arrieta, the former Cy Young awardee, who has basically been an overpriced disappointment for his current team. No one has ever questioned the guy’s toughness, but still…. His mound opponent would be the consensus, current, Greatest Pitcher Ever, Gerrit Cole.

Well, that’s why they play the games, as the old bromide goes. Or, maybe, it’s only one game, to use another commonplace.

But each game this season is actually worth 2.7 non-pandemic games, and that is now “at a minimum” since the planned, 60-game season is not guaranteed in any way. The Phillies’ four-game series against New York has the potential of effectively eliminating them from playoff contention – assuming any playoffs take place – before they reach game number eight.

In advance of the approaching hurricane, the weather in New York City was predicted to be nice – for a while. Tuesday’s game between the two teams was definitely another story.

Cole did take the mound on schedule Aug. 3, and in nothing like a reversal of the Phillies fortunes this season, he did dominate them by a count of 6-1 until the end of the sixth inning when the edge of the coming storm delayed the game.

It wasn’t exactly that Arrieta pitched badly. His pitches had decent movement, but he gave up opposite-field home runs to D.J. LeMahieu and Brett Gardner, the latter an especially cheap item near the left-field pole, his third career HR to the left of second base. Reliever Deolis Guerra gave up a three-run homer after Arrieta left.

Cole benefitted from a couple of wide-zone strikes and gave up a well-hit homer to Jay Bruce to right-center, but he was obviously the better starter.

As the rain fell, the Phillies likely didn’t exactly comfort themselves with the observations that Didi Gregorius was still hitting the ball solidly, and Rhys Hoskins actually started a quite decent 3-6-3 double play early on.

After play resumed, there was a bit to cheer up Phillies partisans, but not too much. J.T. Realmuto picked up a second hit in the game on an eighth-inning infield single into the hole, and Jean Segura lined a single to center to score him off junk baller Luis Avilan.

But there was also a concerning play: Second baseman Scott Kingery was out of position to receive a throw from Realmuto on a Giancarlo Stanton steal in the bottom of the inning. Kingery had spent two years, of course, as Gabe Kapler’s “super utilityman,” instead of playing second as countless people had argued he should have.

The Yankees won, 6-3, dropping the Phillies to 1-3 before a day of thumb-twiddling because a hurricane was rolling into New York City. Wednesday, theoretically, the teams would play a home-and-away doubleheader in the same place, as announced during the game. The Phillies row seemed ever more difficult to hoe.

However, my Buffalo Blue Jays shirt arrived in the mail. So, there was that. And no announcements were made about anybody else being infected on the Yankees, Phillies, or Blue Jays.