Baseball, depending on who you ask, is either good or bad. But tonight, the Phillies proved objectively, unless you’re a fan of the Nationals for some reason, that it is bad.
The Phillies came out in the first swinging like gangbusters. Both Cesar Hernandez and Rhys Hoskins struck out to lead off the game, but then things got going. Asdrubal Cabrera laced a first pitch double to left field, and Justin Bour followed that up with a double of his own. Maikel Franco put an exclamation point on the inning with a monster two-run home run. It looked like the offense might continue, too, because Bour yanked a homer in the top of the third to give the Phillies a 4-1 lead.
In the third inning, Eflin fell apart. He allowed the first hitter to reach, and after getting an out, he had to face Bryce Harper. During a seven-pitch at-bat, he threw over to first base five times. Harper doubled over the head of Bour and the score was 4-2. And then Juan Soto singled and it was 4-3. But Eflin kept right on throwing over to first base, seeming way too concerned with runners advancing. To his detriment, because then Ryan Zimmerman singled. Matt Wieters singled after that, and just like that the game was tied. Not exactly how the inning should have gone, and yet further evidence that with this team, no lead is safe, no support is guaranteed, and no distance is far enough.
Hey, here’s a stat:
Carlos Santana’s last game with more than extra-base hit was on May 13.— Matt Breen (@matt_breen) August 23, 2018
However, between strikeouts and unproductive at-bats, Santana actually broke a disturbing trend of never really hitting the ball that hard and gave the Phillies a 6-5 lead following an extremely encouraging Nick Williams plate appearance. Cesar Hernandez then guaranteed the Nationals would need more than a single run to tie the game with an absolutely demolished insurance run.
The Phillies need to rack up some wins, and the overall theme in the games leading up to this one over the past few weeks has been that they’ve fallen behind by not scoring, or scoring and then falling behind. This was the first time in recent memory when they were able to match up with an opposing offense with more than a single outburst of run-scoring. Which was good, because Washington was, of course, not done scoring.
Andrew Stevenson continued his troublesome ways by hitting a sac fly that made it a 7-6 game, and the Phillies followed suit by loading the bases with one out and then not scoring in the ninth inning. The Nationals, on the other hand, managed to do so, which of course means that yes—they won the game. They did so, in fact, despite being down to their last out and strike, when Juan Soto doubled and Ryan Zimmerman also doubled a double so magical it turned into a home run and won the game.
If you were hoping for a game that furthered the narrative that the Phillies are not good, or that sparked the narrative that the Nationals just needed to completely give up on the season in order to turn things around, then great news: You got it.