Brown's mistake is costly as Phillies fall to Marlins

Marlins centerfielder Jake Marisnick makes a diving catch of Chase Utley's line drive to end the first inning. YONG KIM / Staff
Marlins centerfielder Jake Marisnick makes a diving catch of Chase Utley's line drive to end the first inning. YONG KIM / Staff
Posted: June 27, 2014

The leftfielder at Citizens Bank Park must travel the farthest distance to reach the Phillies dugout. It is a path Domonic Brown trod Wednesday night, and the boos followed him during a 3-2 loss to Miami.

Ben Revere patted Brown on the back before the two outfielders descended the dugout steps in the middle of the fourth inning. Brown's face appeared on the giant scoreboard above left field to introduce an ill-timed video of his highlights. That prompted more groans.

This is a nightmare season for Brown, one of baseball's worst everyday players. The many scenes of failure were replaced Wednesday by a new defining image when Marcell Ozuna lashed a liner to left. Brown took a few steps toward the infield. He froze. He shuffled four steps back and lunged for the ball, which sailed over his head. What should have been the inning's third out instead one-hopped the wall for a run-scoring double.

Jarrod Saltalamacchia batted next. The Miami catcher crushed a two-run double to center. Three decisive runs were on Brown's hands.

"I definitely feel confident," Brown said. "It's just making those plays, man. It changed the whole game. I'm definitely upset at myself."

The Phillies could not overcome their shortcomings, another melancholy night in a three-year mediocre spell. Brown responded with an RBI single in the sixth. That did not atone for his blunder.

A.J. Burnett fired 107 pitches in seven innings and was charged with three runs. None should have scored, not if Brown gloved Ozuna's ball. Brown later apologized to Burnett, who did the same to Brown.

"I felt like I should have picked him up the next at-bat," Burnett said. "That's what we do. You pick each other up."

Brown entered the day ranked 162d among 168 qualified hitters in OPS. His .593 is 225 points lower than his 2013 production. He does not resemble, in any way, the all-star outfielder from a season ago.

"I don't know," Brown said. "It's just been a frustrating year for myself. I mean, we still have three months to go, but damn. I have to pick it up for sure."

"Domonic is our leftfielder as we speak," Ryne Sandberg said. "He is capable of swinging the bat. Every time he goes up there I have confidence that it might be the time where he pops one and drives in two or three runs."

The Phillies manager is not blessed with alternatives. That is why Brown still plays almost every day for a team that teeters toward an implosion. The game's new currency is young, controllable talent. Brown, before this malaise, represented the team's best chance to nurture a productive position player under cheap contract terms for the foreseeable future.

His mistake Wednesday stood above the rest, although it was far from the only sin committed by a player in red pinstripes.

Marlins starter Henderson Alvarez boasted a 0.68 ERA in his previous six starts.

"He's our guy who has been the most consistent," Miami manager Mike Redmond said before the game. The Phillies were 2 for 11 with runners in scoring position Wednesday.

The fifth inning, extinguished by two outs that spanned 790 feet, was most maddening. The Phillies loaded the bases with one out. Chase Utley drove a 95-m.p.h. Alvarez fastball to the wall in center. Jake Marisnick caught it with his back against the fence. An unearned run scored on the deep sacrifice fly that landed a foot shy of being a grand slam.

Ryan Howard smashed a 91-m.p.h. fastball that carried Marisnick to the edge of the warning track for the third out.

All children 14 and under will receive Brown shirts Sunday when the Philllies face Atlanta. Given Wednesday's hostility, a warm response to that freebie is unlikely.



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