If you’re fighting for a playoff spot, and you have Zack Wheeler going against Anibal Sanchez and the last place Nationals, that’s a game you really have to win. However, Wheeler scuffled, the offense was punchless, the defense was bad, and the bullpen (as usual) added fuel to the fire. Add in a couple of ejections, and you’re left with an ugly 5-1 loss.
It was clear from the start that Wheeler didn’t have his best stuff. It took him 34 pitches to get through the first inning, and the Nationals had two runs on the board by the time the inning was done.
A two-run deficit shouldn’t have been a death knell against a pitcher of Sanchez’s quality. But the bats were largely quiet, with the only run coming via a balk.
#Phillies score on a balk and are within a run. #RingTheBell pic.twitter.com/rlfWUXpVdb— Justin Groc (@jgroc) September 22, 2020
To Wheeler’s credit, he managed to keep the Phillies in the game, holding the Nats scoreless over the next four innings. The Nats rallied for another run against Wheeler in the sixth, but Blake Parker came in and prevented further damage.
Parker wasn’t as fortunate the following inning. He gave up three runs, one of which came courtesy of an amazingly bad throw by left fielder Mickey Moniak. Of course, Moniak shouldn’t have even been in the game. He entered in place of Roman Quinn who was thrown out for arguing balls and strikes (with Joe Girardi following soon after).
Joe Girardi ejected for arguing strikes. Roman Quinn also ejected— John Clark (@JClarkNBCS) September 21, 2020
As fate would have it, Moniak came to the plate with two outs in the ninth inning representing the tying run. Not that I think Quinn would have necessarily done any better, but Moniak was clearly overmatched, going down on strikes.
Pending the results of other games throughout the league, the Phillies might still be in possession of a playoff berth tomorrow morning. But if they can’t beat Anibal Sanchez and the Nationals when one of their ace pitchers is on the mound, do they really deserve one?