There are some losses that are considered “gut punches.” Heading into the game, you are completely confident of victory, and when the team ends up losing, it feels like you’ve been punched in the stomach.
The Phillies’ 2-0 loss to the Cubs on Thursday afternoon does not qualify as a gut punch, because pretty much every Phillies fan in existence saw it coming. They lost the first two games of the series, and when the 2022 Phillies start off a series poorly, they tend to finish it poorly.
This is the 20th series this year where the #Phillies lost the first game.— schmenkman (@tgpschmenk) September 29, 2022
They’re now 0-18-2 in those series (h/t @TheGoodPhight commenter Nicky F).
The only other season in the last 60+ years where they have failed to win ANY series after losing G1: the shortened 2020.
And when they lose the first two games of a three-game series, they often spend game three going down without much of a fight.
Everyone knew they were going to lose on Thursday, we just weren’t sure how. Was Ranger Suarez going to have a poorly timed bad outing? (No, he pitched fine.) Was the bullpen going to melt down? (No, there were some shaky moments, but no runs allowed in two innings.) Was the offense going to continue to struggle with runners on base? (Ding ding ding!)
The Phillies continued to get runners on base, but they did so in increments of one, or occasionally two at a time. That’s not a good way to score a lot of runs, or in this case, any runs. Continuing a series-long trend, they were 0-5 with runners in scoring position and left nine runners on base.
They actually seem to be inventing new ways to not get runners home, as we saw in this bizarre sequence:
Quick recap of the absolute chaos that just happened in the top of the second at Wrigley: pic.twitter.com/K2VD21mUYZ— NBC Sports Philadelphia (@NBCSPhilly) September 29, 2022
Want to know what it looks like when a team collapses? It looks a lot like that clip.
The Phillies are playing like a team that bears the weight of ten seasons of missing the playoffs. Everyone in the lineup is pressing, and the Cubs’ pitchers seemed very aware of that fact. Batters are swinging when they shouldn’t and taking pitches that should be crushed. When they do swing at hittable pitches, they’re fouling them off or grounding out.
The Phillies will now travel to Washington to take on the Nationals for four games. Normally, a series against the Nationals cures what ails the Phillies, but considering the tailspin they’re in, and how badly they appear to be pressing, I’m not sure we can even expect them to beat the Nats.