Los Angeles Dodgers' Miguel Rojas, left, is tagged out at home by Philadelphia Phillies catcher Garrett Stubbs as he tried to score on a fielder's choice hit by Miguel Vargas during the eighth inning of a baseball game Wednesday, May 3, 2023, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

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Major League Baseball should not force the Phillies to play games in the Golden State. Just saying.

The Phils have played two series in California this season. Both were utterly abysmal.

Entering their three-game set against the Dodgers in Los Angeles on May 1, they’d been on a roll, winning four of five, including a series win against the Astros in a World Series rematch. Folks were feeling pretty good for the first time all season.

The Dodgers then proceeded to destroy the Phils 13-4, 13-1 and 10-6, outscoring them 36-11. It was one of the worst series of baseball in franchise history, and this is a team that spent pretty much every season in last place from 1915 until 1950.

This week, the Phils had won five of six heading into San Francisco to take on old pal Gabe Kapler and his mediocre group of Giants. And while this series was much closer, Rob Thomson’s group got swept away by a combined score of 17-10 and have now lost 23 of their last 28 games in San Fran.

That’s an 0-6 record in six California games this season, with a run differential of -22.

The Phillies had only two hits in 39 plate appearances with runners in scoring position this week, an .051 batting average in those situations. They were 0-for-28 at one point, their most futile showing in clutch situations since the 2009 Phillies went 0-for-34 in a four-game, late-July fit. 

There is nothing more infuriating in baseball than watching a good lineup fail to produce with runners on 2nd and/or 3rd base. Nothing.

But it wasn’t just the sticks. The starting pitchers in the final two games of the series, Connor Brogdon and Taijuan Walker, combined to record four outs, as neither got out of the first inning. Bailey Falter’s six runs allowed on Tuesday got him demoted to AAA, which was deserved even though none of the six runs he gave were earned (all scored after an error that opened the floodgates). 

And speaking of errors, the gloves were absent for most of the three games, with a combination of miscues, bad decisions and bad luck doing the pitching staff no favors. 

The schizophrenic Phillies are 20-23 heading into a home weekend series against the Cubs, a team they went 0-6 against last year, keeping their fans on a sadistic roller coaster ride of streaks. Here is what they did in their previous 19 games: 

  • Won 4 in a row
  • Lost 6 in a row
  • Won 5 in a row
  • Lost 4 in a row

Hopefully the Phillies can start a new streak and maintain it against Chicago, but only if the starters record more than four outs and the offense figures out how not to fall apart at the seams whenever the opportunity to score presents itself.

The good news: the Phillies don’t travel to California again until mid-June for a three-game series against the A’s in Oakland, with a September stop against the Padres in San Diego the only other slate of games there this season.

Sunshine is overrated.

On the latest Hittin’ Season podcast, I talked with senior MLB writer for The Sporting News Ryan Fagan about the Phils’ offensive woes, his long-term prognosis for the team this year, as well as some of the other National League playoff teams from last year who are struggling… namely, the Mets!!!

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