The Phillies needed to win this game today. They needed to win at least one game from Atlanta to show that the September swoon is not imminent.
They could not do that.
Using a leaky bullpen to help prop up a dormant offense, the Phillies dropped another game to the Braves to head home having been swept almost within a game of being out of the wild card. Luckily, the Yankees were able to take a game from Milwaukee, but we’re not here for that.
It was a pitcher’s duel for a bit, but it also felt somewhat inevitable that the Phillies were going to get pushed around a bit by Spencer Strider. He’s been excellent this year for Atlanta and today, though his control wasn’t A+, he still didn’t have much trouble with the Phillies lineup. For the opposite side, Bailey Falter continued his run of solid outings, holding the Braves scoreless for the first two innings. In the third, a leadoff double by Michael Harris II, followed by a one out double by Robbie Grossman gave the Braves a 1-0 lead. Falter got out of the jam, but was only able to go 4 2⁄3 innings on the day thanks to a high pitch count and a manager with an itchy trigger finger. In the fifth, the Braves got two men on and two out when Rob Thomson went with his bullpen to help close the door on the rally, something Andrew Bellatti did with ease, striking out Austin Riley to end the threat.
With the Phillies still looking for a hit in the sixth inning, Strider was nearing 100 pitches, but still plenty in command. He retired the first two batters of the inning in Rhys Hoskins and Bryce Harper, but Alec Bohm stepped up with two outs and delivered a game tying solo home run.
A momentum shifting home run it looked like with Connor Brogdon coming in in the bottom half of the inning and looking quite good against Matt Olson, but the Braves just kept coming after this bullpen. William Contreras came back with one out and hit a solo home run himself, giving Atlanta a 2-1 lead.
In the seventh, Jean Segura singled to lead off, then was followed by a strikeout by Bryson Stott and a walk to pinch hitter J.T. Realmuto. The team was threatening against Tyler Matzek and Thomson again pressed a pinch hitter button by sending Matt Vierling to face the lefty, but Matzek won the battle against Vierling and subsequent one against Kyle Schwarber to end the threat. The bottom half of the inning saw the bottom drop out on Sam Coonrod, who allowed two runs on a home run by Robbie Grossman and an RBI single by Riley, scoring Ronald Acuna and effectively ending the game. Both sides would get another run, the Phillies thanks to a home run by J.T. Realmuto, but the game was never close.
J.T. Realmuto - Philadelphia Phillies (19)— MLB HR Videos (@MLBHRVideos) September 18, 2022
The cheers by the bench just feel.....so sad.
With their tails between their legs, the Phillies head home and will have an off day before facing the Blue Jays for two games.
It doesn’t get any easier.