Kapler’s an­a­lyt­ics come up short on this day

Daily Times (Primos, PA) - - SPORTS - Bob Grotz Colum­nist Con­tact Bob Grotz at bobgrotz@21st-cen­tu­ry­media.com; fol­low him on Twit­ter @bobgrotz.

PHILADEL­PHIA » Gabe Kapler has had bet­ter days than Sun­day, when an­a­lyt­ics clashed with com­mon sense and the Phillies never had a chance in a 10-1 loss to the At­lanta Braves.

Why Kapler didn’t pinch-hit in the sev­enth in­ning for re­liever Jake Thomp­son, who struck out with one out and the Phillies trail­ing, 6-1, was among the more ques­tion­able de­ci­sions.

Thomp­son couldn’t pitch his way out of the next in­ning, the Braves shelling him for three more runs to salt the de­ci­sion away.

“We dis­cussed it,” Kapler said. “But we would have liked to get a lit­tle more length out of Jake, and had he gone out in the fol­low­ing in­ning and dealt, we would have been fine.”

An­other item that Kap had to have dis­cussed was the wind. It was blow­ing so hard from left to cen­ter­field, the out­field shifts ap­peared con­vo­luted. You didn’t need a left fielder play­ing close to the line, as the Phillies did. The wind tun­nel ef­fect was driving ev­ery­thing — birds, lit­ter, pop­corn, what­ever — to­ward the Schuylkill Ex­press­way.

There was a lot of stuff go­ing on like that all af­ter­noon. We’ll get to more in a few para­graphs.

For now, let’s fight the urge to over­re­act. The Phillies and Braves both are 16-11 and tied for sec­ond in the NL East. OK, the flip­side is the Phils are 3-6 against the Braves and 0-2 ver­sus the New York Mets, who lead the di­vi­sion. So close, and yet so far away, it seems.

The loss to the Braves was a reminder that watch­ing the Phillies from start to fin­ish can be more painful than el­e­va­tor mu­sic. The Phillies throw a lot of pitch­ers out there, who throw a lot of pitches and throw over to first too much. Their bat­ters take a lot of pitches. Their man­ager stalls to warm up the pitcher in the bullpen de­spite be­ing down nine runs in the ninth in­ning.

“You al­ways like to give guys a few ex­tra pitches,” Kapler said. “It’s not an un­usual move, is it? From my per­spec­tive, some­times you walk out slow and some­times you walk out fast. Gen­er­ally, you walk out slow when you want to give your guys a cou­ple ex­tra pitches.”

Luis Gar­cia, one of the team’s most ef­fec­tive re­liev­ers, sure got some ex­tra pitches. He threw 29 in a game that was over when he got in.

“We wanted to use him to­day, first and fore­most,” Kapler said. “He had been down for three days and we wanted to keep him sharp. We didn’t have to use him but at that point in the game it was the right de­ci­sion be­cause we felt like he could use the work and we had planned on us­ing him in any big sit­u­a­tion.”

Gar­cia gave up an RBI­dou­ble to for­mer Phillies first-round pick Jesse Biddle. A few bat­ters later, Kapler played stall ball to warm up re­liever Drew Hutchi­son. Catcher An­drew Knapp went to the mound. Kapler tip­toed out there. Fi­nally, the um­pires moved it along. And they won­der why they’re los­ing fans?

Ear­lier in the frame, Kapler chal­lenged the rul­ing that Gar­cia hit Braves bat­ter Kurt Suzuki with a fast­ball. It’s a shame he lost be­cause that could have been a gamechanger.

When the Phillies get be­hind in games, it’s like be­ing stuck in the el­e­va­tor, cap­tive to the mu­sic. Just get­ting out is a bless­ing.

The tone was set early. Vince Ve­lasquez’s first pitch ended up deep in the right field seats. Ozzie Al­bies sent it there for his ninth homer, ty­ing him with Char­lie Blak­mon of Colorado for the NL lead.

The third in­ning was a clash of an­a­lyt­ics and com­mon sense. Kapler left Ve­lasquez in even though he knew he’d re­gret it. Jo­han Ca­margo drilled a three-run homer cap­ping a five-run burst to for a 6-0 Braves cush­ion.

“A tough day across the board ob­vi­ously,” Kapler said. “Vinny didn’t come out with his best stuff and that’s go­ing to hap­pen. We’re go­ing to have some starts that aren’t per­fect and that was one of them and things sort of got off to a tough start from there.”

Ve­lasquez al­lowed six earned runs and seven hits - in­clud­ing two home runs - be­fore ex­it­ing af­ter the fourth in­ning. He struck out four and scat­tered a cou­ple of walks. All of that re­quired 73 pitches. Forty-four were strikes.

Ve­lasquez’s fast­ball was so or­di­nary that Phillies color an­a­lyst Michael — Sch­midt, in the TV booth, said he al­ways en­joyed fac­ing a pitcher who threw a fast­ball that didn’t move. And Ve­lasquez’s heater, for the most part, doesn’t move.

“His fast­ball is very straight,” Sch­midt said. “And in the mid­dle of the plate at 91 (mph) it’s very hit­table.”

It’s only set­back.

On the other hand, it took 3-hours, 26-min­utes to com­plete what was a fore­gone de­ci­sion in the third in­ning.

Hope­fully the Phillies can learn fro--m that. one game, one


Ozzie Al­bies, right, set the tone early for the At­lanta Braves when he blasted the first pitch of the game for a solo home run. Not much went right for the Phillies af­ter that as the Braves rolled to a 10-1 vic­tory Sun­day af­ter­noon at Cit­i­zens Bank Park.

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