The Phillies entered this game Saturday afternoon hoping to get the entirety of the doubleheader in. Moved from today to Friday earlier in the week, the rain last night forced the teams to move the two games to today. Forecasted rain meant that the hope was that they’d get the first game in and hope for the second one to go on as scheduled.
All of this meant that Rob Thomson decided that the best shot at winning meant Kyle Gibson was to be sent to the mound.
A managerial mistake if ever there was one.
Thanks to some shoddy defense, questionable decision making from Thomson, and the fact that Gibson was allowed to even pitch, the Phillies were throttled by a Nationals team that has lost 100+ games this season. It was embarrassing and could end up being the death knell on the season.
It started decently enough. Kyle Schwarber led the game off with a triple against Anibal Sanchez, but almost looked like he’d be stranded there. Rhys Hoskins hit a fly ball not quite deep enough to score Schwarber, then was followed by an intentional walk to Bryce Harper to set up a double play. J.T. Realmuto struck out to make it two outs, dire indeed. But the Phillies pulled some Little League stuff and executed a double steal that brought Schwarber home and gave them the lead.
Staked to a 1-0 lead, Gibson promptly surrendered the lead in the bottom of the first inning when Luis Garcia singled home Lane Thomas to tie the game at one.
In the second, Gibson was able to get two quick outs and looked decent enough doing so, but two singles by Riley Adams and Thomas brought up C.J. Abrams. Abrams hit what looked like a routine ground ball, but Jean Segura hesitated to charge the ball and threw late to first, letting Abrams beat the throw and loading the bases for Joey Meneses. Meneses hit a hot shot past Alec Bohm at third on a ball that should have been fielded cleanly, but instead cleared the bases for a 4-1 Nationals lead. Luke Voit came up after Meneses and...
...promptly destroyed a baseball.
The lead was large, but the Phillies had some fight in them. In the fourth inning, they got three runs of their own when Realmuto led off with a double, then went to third on a fly ball by Bohm. Nick Castellanos singled to drive home Realmuto, making it 6-2, then went to third himself on a double by Brandon Marsh. Segura hit into fielder’s choice that scored Castellanos and sent Marsh to third, a fortuitous move since Bryson Stott followed with a well executed bunt that scored Marsh and made it 6-4. Schwarber walked against Sanchez to put two men on with two out and Hoskins due up. After a mound visit, Hoskins swung at the first strike he saw, popped the ball up and ended the threat.
The Phillies would never recover.
Gibson was left to soak up innings on the mound, performing admirably the rest of his outing, but still gave up another run in the fifth inning that made it 7-4. No sense of urgency from the dugout, just a hope that Gibson would keep the score where it was and that the offense would come back.
With the score 7-4, relatively close by today’s standards, Thomson needed the bullpen in the seventh and went with....
Nelson would exhibit zero control, walking two in the inning, paired with two singles, before needing to be replaced by....
From there, the game just got out of control. Devenski imploded himself in the eighth inning, giving up three runs that was capped by a long home run by Luis Garcia, one that prompted the Phillies, in the middle of a playoff chase, to have to use a position player to pitch the final out.
A comedy at some points, a tragedy at others and now the Phillies find themselves tied with the Brewers for the final spot in the playoffs. Yes, yes, they have the tiebreaker, but the fact that they are even relying on that is an issue as they have completely fallen apart against two teams that are simply playing out the string.
There’s another game tonight. Maybe.