The Phillies have gone on a brutal stretch the last couple weeks, dropping series after series to medicore and bad teams. In fact, aside from splitting a two games with the Red Sox, the Phillies have lost 5 of their last 6 series (including this one). Not only are they losing, but they’re losing in new and agonizingly creative ways. Just when you think you’ve seen their “worst loss of the season,” a day or two later they come through with an even more gut wrenching one.
Before the start of this game, they were (somehow) within striking distance of a playoff spot. Technically, they still are. But if this team has any hope at all of making it to the postseason, they’ll need to go on a tear. And if they can’t get that going on a Nola day, then what hope is there?
Aaron Nola did what Aaron Nola does and pitched spectacularly. He out-dueled Max Scherzer for the second time in a week, strengthening his bid for Cy Young and/or MVP. Just look at the kind of stuff he was throwing tonight:
All in all, Nola pitched 7 innings, gave up 4 hits, 2 runs (though only one was earned). He walked two and struck out eight (including Bryce Harper three times). Scherzer, meanwhile, only made it through 5 innings, as 2 of the 4 hits he gave up were dingers: a solo shot by Odubel Herrera and a two-run homer to Jorge Alfaro.
Some other stuff happened too, I guess. Whatever. We’re here to talk about a truly atrocious loss, so let’s have a look at that.
In the 7th, they coughed up two runs when Carlos Santana air mailed a throw in an attempt to double up on the run coming home to score. As a result, not only Anthony Rendon but also Ryan Zimmerman scored to make it a one run game.
Tommy Hunter got through a 1-2-3 inning in the 8th and was for some reason left in for the 9th to face Bryce Harper, who he proceeded to walk. Kapler replaced him with Pat Neshek, who promptly surrendered a home run to give the Nationals the lead. They scored again when Alfaro threw the ball away trying to catch Zimmerman stealing third.
It was abundantly clear at this point, with the way things had been going, that whatever the Phillies did in the 9th was going to be stomach turning. Back to back doubles by Nick Williams and Wilson Ramos to make it a one run game brought hope back into the equation.
But of course, being the disaster artists that they are, the Phillies managed to lose in a truly remarkable way. With pinch runner Vince Velasquez representing the tying run on second base and only one out in the inning, Jorge Alfaro flew out to center field. Velasquez, attempting to tag up to third, left second base early, and was therefore called out to end the game.
I’ve been extremely cynical about this team for the past two weeks, and even so I am at a loss for words to describe how bad the 9th inning of this game was.
Do yourself a favor and take a vacation from this team.