The inevitable has become official: Thanks to their 5-3 win over the Phillies on Thursday, the Atlanta Braves are the 2021 National League East champions, and for the tenth straight season, the Phillies will not make the playoffs.
When the Phillies lost on Tuesday night, their postseason hopes took a huge hit. When they lost again on Wednesday, it was just a matter of time before it became official, and that time came on Thursday. Not that the Phillies seemed particularly eager to avoid elimination. Much like the previous three games, the Phillies showed almost no energy.
Kyle Gibson set the tone by serving up a home run to the first batter he faced.
Braves fans down in Florida: Be on the lookout for this ball as it could be landing in your yard.@solerpower12 | #ForTheA pic.twitter.com/Fq2xUrsKmw— Atlanta Braves (@Braves) September 30, 2021
He gave up another home run to start the fourth inning, and allowed another run in the inning after that. When Ozzie Albies tripled home another run in the fifth, Gibson’s night was over. The Braves tacked on another run in the inning, and the remainder of the game turned into an exhibition of Braves fans counting down outs.
Speaking of Gibson, he wasn’t an awful trade deadline pickup. His usual five or six innings of mediocrity were better than watching Spencer Howard fall apart in the third inning every five days. But he didn’t provide much of a boost either. He’s simply a passable back-of-the-rotation starter.
It might not have mattered how well Gibson pitched, because for the fourth straight game, the Phillies’ offense was largely awful. They tallied just one hit against Braves starter Ian Anderson in the first six innings, and barely presented even a threat of scoring. Andrew McCutchen was just about the only player to have a good night at the plate going 2-3 with a two-run homer that was one of the few offensive highlights.
Maybe Bryce Harper cost himself the MVP award with his performance this series (0-11 with five strikeouts), but it also might help his candidacy. It’s clear just how much he’s been carrying the team’s offense for most of the season considering they’ve utterly fallen apart as soon as he went into a slump.
The Phillies will play out the string with three games in Miami. There is some “drama” attached to the games, as the Phillies will try to clinch their first winning season since 2011. It seems like they should be able to win one game against a 93 loss team, but would anyone really be surprised if they don’t?