Posted on June 4, 2018, by Bryan Zarpentine
The Philadelphia Phillies have surpassed most outside expectations to this point in the season. But the team is still falling short of new ace Jake Arrieta’s expectations. After the Phillies were swept in a three-game series over the weekend by the San Francisco Giants, Arrieta went on a tirade.
“Overall, it’s just a really horse s–t series,” Arrieta said after Sunday’s loss, a game he started. “Really bad. Really bad.”
Philadelphia’s biggest problem over the weekend was scoring runs. The Phillies were outscored 12-1 in three games against the Giants. That lone run came on a solo home run hit by Arrieta himself. However, the longtime Cubs pitcher pointed to the team’s defensive shortcomings.
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“We’re the worst in the league with shifts, so we need to change that,” said Arrieta.
Specifically, Arrieta explained how a poor defensive play opened the door for the Giants to score five runs in the sixth inning. All of those runs were charged to Arrieta in a 6-1 loss.
“We had a check swing. (Scott) Kingery should have gone to second on that play,” recalled a perturbed Arrieta. “Then they got three hits in a row. The home run, credit (Andrew) McCutchen for putting a good swing on it, but did not expect a ball like that to get out.”
The Phillies began Sunday with -11 Shift Runs Saved, according to Sports Info Solutions. Only one other team in baseball has negative runs in that category.
“Copy the best,” Arrieta offered as a solution. “I don’t know. That’s not my job. Use your eyes, make an adjustment and be better. We need some accountability all the way around. Everybody, top to bottom.”
After his comments, Arrieta had a private meeting with Phillies manager Gape Kapler. After that meeting, Kapler addressed the media despite already holding a postgame press conference.
“He cares a lot about winning and I think this series (ticked) him off. It (ticked) me off, too. He and I are going to spend some time talking about how we position defenders behind him. We are flexible and reasonable as it relates to the way we position defenders,” Kapler told reporters. “We’ll also be responsive to our players, their needs and the best way to position defenders behind them individually so that they’re comfortable and they make their pitches.”
Despite Arrieta’s harsh words, Kapler wasn’t upset with the team’s ace for speaking out. The rookie manager reiterated that Arrieta’s leadership was one of the reasons why the Phillies worked to sign him over the winter.
“A ton of respect for his leadership characteristics, what he brings to that clubhouse,” said Kapler. “I know why he responded the way he did, and we talked it through like men. And we will continue to do that.”
Arrieta concluded his comments by expressing his hope that the team can use Monday’s off day to get “in the right mindset.” The Phillies, who began Monday three games behind the Braves in the NL East, begin a series Tuesday against the Cubs. Arrieta is not scheduled to pitch against his former team. However, he pledged to hold his teammates accountable for their performance.
“We need to have an accountability check,” said Arrieta. “This is a key moment in our season. We had a pretty good April, a pretty good May. June isn’t starting out so well.”