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PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Cesar Hernandez made history Friday night by swinging at a 3-2 pitch to end the bottom of the sixth inning of the Phillies’ 4-2 victory over the visiting New York Mets at Citizens Bank Park. Only Hernandez nor any of the Phillies knew it. Not many watching were aware, either.
But for the 1,156th time this season, a Phillie struck out, breaking the all-time season record for strikeouts by a Phillies’ team, surpassing the previous high of 1,155, ignobly set in 2003. No one noticed because the Phillies were winning, thanks to the savior of the season Aaron Nola.
Now, it’s apparent, there is no hiding the scars that poked at this team throughout the year—strikeouts and all.
The Phillies have 38 games left to play, with only 14 of those games against teams with above-.500 records (Atlanta Braves, Colorado Rockies and the Chicago Cubs). They also have a combined 12 games against two of the worst teams in baseball, the Miami Marlins and the Mets, who had a combined 104-146 record entering Tuesday night’s games.
The problem with that is those two awful teams are also a combined 13-13 against the playoff-contending Phillies.
The Phillies lead Major League Baseball with a league-high 96 errors. They’re dead last in fielding percentage, at .979. The Phillies are fourth in strikeouts, with a current-record 1,173 Ks. The top three teams before them are either last or first to last in their respective divisions.
So maybe it’s time a team that has been patient at the plate may actually take a page from their manager, Gabe Kapler, and “be bold.” It means swinging more at the first pitch and less willing to take pitches. It means a little more concentration on the basepaths and in the field. Physically, this appears to be a very athletic team.
Mentally, they seem to doze off into their own netherworlds, especially clumsy living highlight reel center fielder Odubel Herrera.
What Kapler has done with his team, so far sitting at 68-56, a game out of first place in the National League East on August 21, is commendable.
But as the strikeouts, and errors, and base-running blunders mount, the expectations about the 2018 Phillies lower with each game they play against the mediocre opponent.