Have the Phillies made manager Girardi scheme to get more?

Matt Moore, now with the Philadelphia Phillies. (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)
Matt Moore, now with the Philadelphia Phillies. (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images) /

As the MLB trade deadline flew at them, the Philadelphia Phillies continued to resemble no one so much as that kid in the pool who’s flailing to keep his head above water. The kid who just “learned to swim last week,” right?

Across the Delaware Valley baseball fans debated whether or not team president Dave Dombrowski should play lifeguard and throw that kid a lifesaver in the form of a good starter or reliever, or maybe, Kris Bryant.

Late on July 26, Andrew McCutchen had given Lifeguard Dombrowski a shout-out in the form of a three-run homer he banged out to right field in the bottom of the ninth inning. That produced a 6-5 Phillies win over the Nationals and pushed Philly to – stop me if you’ve heard this before – one game over .500.

Has Phillies manager Joe Girardi begun to think deviously about improving his team?

They gained half a game on the Mets and trailed them by only 3.5 games. The rest of the division was also within spitting distance of New York, assuming they could spit over the Phillies.

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Following the game, Inquirer.com scribe Matt Breen wrote that “every win gives the front office more motivation to buy.” McCutchen, the 34-year-old consummate professional, said what you’d expect such a player to say – that he had no control over trades, his team was good enough to win already, and his daily job was to win a ball game.

That was all on display Monday and early Tuesday. On Tuesday night, the Phillies planned to send out struggling lefty Matt Moore to face Washington. About that, Breen noted the Nats hit left-handers better than all but one other MLB team.

What was Girardi’s thinking there? Was his staff variously fatigued and injured in enough ways that he felt backed into the Matt Moore corner on a pivotal day in the season? (Relievers had eaten a lot of innings Monday.) Or was he trying to demonstrate he really, really needed a new starter?

The trade deadline was exactly three days away, and a rarely asked question had quietly arisen: “How devious is Joe Girardi?” The Phillies own website Tuesday afternoon indicated that no Washington hitter had more than six at-bats against Moore, but that two of the three with six AB (veterans Ryan Zimmerman and Rene Rivera) were hitting .667 with four homers and six RBI between them.

Was Matt Moore a new definition of the term calculated risk, or something sneakier?

The game-time weather in Philadelphia was expected to be very warm with a slight chance of rain.

Then, a bit before 5 p.m. (EST) Tuesday, reports surfaced that the Phillies had reached an agreement with Pittsburgh for left-handed starter Tyler Anderson. Had scheduling Moore worked for Girardi?

Too cynical by half? Maybe.

Of course, there were reports following those first reports, at least on Twitter, of a snag. Hauling a team over .500 is very hard work. Game time approached.

Within 12 minutes of that game’s start, Moore had one out and had surrendered three runs on four hits. Oddly, a three-run homer wasn’t the most impressive of Washington’s first hits. It was the 400-foot double blasted to the deepest part of the ballpark by journeyman Josh Harrison on a fastball squarely in the middle of the strike zone.

Before he got six outs, Moore gave up another three-run bomb, and Philly trailed 6-1. Neither Zimmerman nor Rivera was even in the game.

The left-hander lasted four innings without giving up any more runs. The Phillies came back, but lost, 6-4. An inside-the-park home run by Bryce Harper followed by another home run by McCutchen in the fifth somehow failed to inspire any further scoring.

And by early Wednesday morning, the trade for Tyler Anderson had apparently fallen apart in medical review. Pittsburgh’s left-hander went to Seattle, and the Mariners announced the acquisition on their website.

Next. Phillies targeting Cubs for bullpen help. dark

The Phillies were back at .500, but if Joe Girardi was trying to demonstrate something for ownership with Matt Moore, he may have succeeded. Maybe Dave Dombrowski should be very busy for the rest of Wednesday.