The Phillies are a team that can win, and a team that has won as recently as last Friday. But they have also lost, and they have done that far more enthusiastically in the past two weeks.
In this post, we will examine the cornucopia of L’s this team has taken by doing everything from handing games to the opposing team to possibly being asleep the entire time.
The date: August 8
The score: 6-0
The team: The Diamondbacks. They hadn’t won a series at home since mid-June... until the Phillies came knocking, of course. Which is to say, not knocking.
The game: Arizona manager Torey Lovullo said before this game that August was something of a “moving month” for contending teams, during which teams scramble over each other like a pile of rats until one of them feels the daylight on their face through the sewer grate (In this case the sewer grate is a division title). The Diamondbacks did some moving throughout this series, especially in this complete shutdown of the Phillies not just as an offense or a pitching staff, but as a baseball entity.
Patrick Corbin punched through the Phillies with nine strikeouts, Vince Velasquez made a shriveled little four-inning appearance, and David Peralta went 4-for-5 with a triple. According to the recap, the key to the Diamondbacks’ success was “great starting pitching and timely hitting,” two strategies the Phillies should probably consider employing moving forward. Corbin may have thought he was getting into some trouble in the first inning when the Phillies made him throw 19 pitches, but Rhys Hoskins and Nick Williams pulled the rug out from under him by striking out consecutively and Cesar Hernandez put the finishing touches on the illusion of offense by getting thrown out trying to steal second.
A clearly hysterical Lovullo was pretty worked up after his team’s 6-0 victory, which allowed them to take two of three: “Nice to win a series. I know we haven’t done it in quite some time here.”
“Calm down!” the press corps screamed back at him as a pair of orderlies ran in to hold him down and administer a sedative.
The Phillies responded to this loss by also getting shut out by the Padres, a much worse team, in their next game.
The date: August 16
The score: 24-4
The team: The Mets, a team with a .704 team OPS. The only team with a worse one is the Padres, who, as mentioned above, had recently shut out the Phillies, too.
The game: This game went from Ranger Suarez giving up an immediate home run to Amed Rosario to Scott Kingery soft tossing “pitches” to the Mets as if he was their father concerned about their motor skills. Suarez allowed eight runs, earning only half of them, and Mark Leiter allowed seven runs, earning only none of them. How did that happen? I honestly don’t even know, but it probably had something to do with the four errors the Phillies committed, one of the only stats from this game that looks worse than the nothing-for-5 the Phillies were with runners in scoring position.
And so the Mets, with their all-unpowerful offense, crushed the Phillies with the full weight of a .313 team OBP, scoring a franchise record of 24 runs in one game. Six players had at least three hits. Jose Bautista hit a grand slam and still has a sub-.200 BA for the season. Jose Reyes had two hits and scored three runs and he only exists in the nightmares of subway rats. Roman Quinn and Scott Kingery both got to pitch, with Kingery’s appearance being classified as “an embarrassment” by a beat writer.
It was also the first game of a double-header, which was great, because nothing whets the appetite for more baseball like getting twenty-runned by an organization owned by a crime family of sad, decrepit clowns and maintained by three different general managers because no single human could bear the full brunt of the position.
The date: August 18
The score: 3-1
The team: The Mets. This New York Post article characterizes all players who have been traded away from the Mets since the trade deadline as escapees. They are baseball’s version of a kill shelter.
The game: Jacob deGrom was once a perfect marriage of hair and fastballs. He has a season ERA of [gasping-in-horror-face emoji]. The Phillies have faced him three times this year, and the only time they beat him is the time when he hyperextended his elbow during the game.
The other two times? It was a massacre:
- July 11: 8 IP, 0 ER, 5 H, 7 SO, 1 BB
- August 18: 9 IP, 0 ER, 9 H, 9 SO, 0 BB
And that’s fine. The Mets are probably going to have to gift Jacob deGrom Citi Field later this season. You can’t beat Jacob deGrom.
But what’s maddening about the Phillies is they were also beaten by the Mets offense, which is one of the only offenses in the National League statistically worse than their own (for now). It was Jeff McNeil who led attack for the Mets on this day with an RBI triple. Who is Jeff McNeil, you ask? He’s your childhood friend who lived across the street from you in the cul-de-sac. You had a crush on his older sister, and she humored you with the occasional smile from across the pool party, but you never really had a chance. Still, though; your friendship with Jeff and awkward flirtations with his sister taught you more about life and love that one magical summer than your young mind ever thought possible, until their parents split up and they had to move to Connecticut.
I don’t know who the hell he is, and neither do you.
Beaten by unraveling crap-squad
The date: August 21
The score: 10-4
The team: The Nationals, whose owner, just before this game, submitted a public letter to their fans announcing that the team was going to trade key players away and suck now.
The game: The Phillies lineup coughed up four runs early; a sopping wet hairball of offense that the Nationals were able to step around through the unheard of concept of scoring more runs.
During a two-run stretch of baseball during which a team slowly dies, it can become easy to latch onto each and every blink of success as the potential turnaround. Roman Quinn’s first MLB home run certainly could have been that moment. But it wasn’t, because after the Phillies figured out which way runners go when they get on base a couple of times, the Nationals figured out that they could score a few additional runs and win the game. Actually, it seemed like the Nationals knew that they could do that before the game had even started.
It turns out that a team conceding the season by trading a homophobe doesn’t mean they’re going to automatically lose the rest of their games. Which the Phillies learned again the following night, which was also last night, when this happened:
Walked-off by man who hit .184 in April
The date: August 22
The score: 8-7
The team: Still the Nationals, a team that failed to win ten games in June.
The game: The Phillies looked like that perhaps, with some intense concentration, more than one nonzero inning of run-scoring, and some elusive bullpen pitching, they might actually piece together a victory in this one.
The above paragraph is a fool’s thoughts, produced by a brain with an IQ equal to Jacob deGrom’s ERA. No one who has watched this team for the past two weeks would be capable of generating such flowery optimism. I think I speak for all of us when I say the only thing we’ve done in that time is sit quietly in our kitchens, snapping pencils in half and ignoring an increasing amount of concerned text messages.
After an entertaining back-and-forth, Ryan Zimmerman hit a double that tied the game with two outs in the ninth. But then the umpires convened and with a little determination and some baseball magic, they thought real hard and turned that double into a game-winning home run. Zimmerman got to once more be the hero, reminding Nationals fans of a time when Zim was their main guy, “Mr. Walk-off” they called him, and with that air of destiny on his side, he took them to four glorious first-round playoff appearances. What a time to be a Nats fan.
I don’t know about you guys, but I think this series could be the one that starts the Nationals’ big playoff run. And maybe more than that. Maybe Mark Lerner giving up on them is exactly what this team needs to harness the power of a city’s dreams and ride their majestic baseball steeds into the World Series that has forever eluded this franchise in a reversal of fortunes this league has never seen.
What team is this a web site for again