ABOVE PHOTO: Phillies interim manager Ryne Sandberg says Ethan Martin needed to use his fastball more in loss to Washington.
(Photo by Webster Riddick)
By Chris Murray
For the Chris Murray Report and the Philadelphia Sunday Sun
When you’re playing a bunch of young players from your Triple-A farm club, you’re going to see some flashes of brilliance and also how far they have to go to play at the major league level on a consistent basis.
With the exception of catcher Carlos Ruiz, first baseman Kevin Frandsen and right fielder John Mayberry Jr., the Phillies lineup consisted of players that have spent the summer with the Lehigh Valley Iron Pigs.
The Phillies youth and inexperience definitely showed in their 9-6 loss to the Washington Nationals Tuesday night at Citizens Bank Park in front of a small crowd of 28, 826 fans.
Starting pitcher Ethan Martin struggled with his control, walking five batters and allowing five runs on five hits. He also hit a batter.
“It was a frustrating game on the pitching side of it,” said Phillies interim manager Ryne Sandberg. “There were a lot of pitches thrown, base on balls. He gave them baserunners and then they answered with hits. “
The first bad inning for Martin was the second inning, when he hit Nationals right fielder Jayson Werth. After retiring Nats shortstop Ian Desmond on a pop fly to shortstop Freddy Galvis, Martin walked Nationals first baseman Adam LaRoche and then gave up a three-run homer to catcher Wilson Ramos.
“Martin right from the get-go didn’t really establish his fast ball,” Sandberg said. “Pitched a little careful, a little bit backwards early and he had some success in his middle innings with his fastball, which is a good one. He got some outs.”
In the fourth inning, the Phillies cut the margin to 3-2 on two-run single by third baseman Cody Asche (3-for-4) that scored Frandsen, who reached on a single and Ruiz, who got on base on a throwing error by third baseman Ryan Zimmerman.
After getting through the next two innings, Martin ran into trouble again in the fifth inning when he gave up a leadoff double to Denard Span. After getting Zimmerman to bounce out on a grounder to second, Martin walked left fielder Bryce Harper.
Martin managed to get the second out of the inning by getting Werth to pop out to first. But just when it looked like Martin was going to work his way out of the inning, he walked Desmond to load the bases and then walked LaRoche to score Spann from third.
“I didn’t make that final pitch to get out of that inning,” Martin said. “It’s kind been that way for the majority of the starts that I’ve had up here. It’s just that one pitch that I haven’t been able to get. It’s one thing we’ve been talking and I just have to bear down and get that pitch.”
That spelled the end for Martin. The Nationals got another run that was charged to Martin when relief pitcher Justin De Fratus walked Ramos to bring home Harper.
The Nationals added two more runs in the sixth inning on an RBI single by Werth that scored Zimmerman and a run-scoring hit from Desmond that brought home Harper to make the score 7-2.
“The bullpen came and struggled with base on balls and with the base runners,” Sandberg.
But the Phillies made things interesting in the sixth by scoring three runs in the inning by taking advantage of Nationals fielding errors. Darin Ruf scored from second on a throwing error by Desmond who was trying to throw out Mayberry at first. The Phillies cut the deficit to 7-5 on RBI singles by Mike Martinez and pinch hitter Chase Utley.
The Nationals added another run on a solo homer to right by pinch-hitter Corey Brown in top of the seventh.
The Phillies got that run back in the eighth on a home run by Asche to right center.
The Nationals added a run in the ninth on wild pitch strikeout by B.J. Rosenberg that scored Span.