In theory, it’s good to outscore your opponent in a given series. Over the course of the three-game set against the Nationals, the Phillies held the run differential advantage 24-11. Unfortunately, the distribution of the runs wasn’t ideal, as for the second time in the series, the Phillies turned a very winnable game into a loss, this time falling 5-4.
Early on, it looked like the Phillies were in for another easy win. Saturday’s offensive explosion appeared to carry over when Nick Castellano and J.T. Realmuto hit first inning home runs to give the Phillies a 3-0 lead.
Given the way Ranger Suarez has been pitching, a 3-0 lead against an unimposing Nationals lineup felt safe. And then the third inning happened. With one out, Derek Hill hit a ball that likely would have been caught if the Phillies had a good defensive outfield. (They don’t.) Suarez struck out the next batter, but then his control abandoned him, and he walked the next two to load the bases for Stone Garrett.
On the first pitch, Garrett - whose home run on Friday gave the Nats their margin of victory - hit another one.
STONE GARRETT GRAND SLAM FOR THE LEAD pic.twitter.com/1690w1oPrt— Talkin’ Baseball (@TalkinBaseball_) July 2, 2023
Suarez gave up another home run in the fifth, to put the Nationals ahead by two. That deficit shouldn’t have been insurmountable, and the Phillies did get plenty of runners on base. But they fell back into that unfortunate habit of not hitting well with runners in scoring position.
In his return to the majors, Darick Hall killed a rally in the sixth by hitting into a double play. The seventh inning seemed promising, when an RBI double by Nick Castellanos cut the Nats’ lead in half. But with two runners aboard, Realmuto’s double play ensured that was all the Phillies would get there.
Phillies are so annoying. They squander so many chances. Double play right there is inexcusable. Don’t let a 19 run day yesterday distract you how disastrous this team is down runs with runners in scoring position. Realmuto is consistently the worst culprit— Scuba Steve (@Scuba_Steve161) July 2, 2023
In the eighth, Bryson Stott led off with a walk, but Alec Bohm questionably swung on 3-0 and lined out. Not happy with one mistake in the inning, Brandon Marsh ended it by grounding into yet another double play.
The Phillies didn’t hit into a double play in the ninth, on account of not getting any runners on base. Castellanos nearly got a hold of one with two outs, but it sadly fell a few feet short.
Considering how much success the Phillies have had against the Nats in recent years, I suppose they were due to lose a series eventually. But with two very winnable games on Friday and Sunday; it didn’t feel like this should have been the series when that eventually actually happened.
The Phillies’ schedule takes a tougher turn as they’ll venture to Florida to take on the Rays and Marlins, both of whom are in playoff position. If the Phillies want to beat them, they’ll need efforts much more like what they got on Saturday, and not play the losing brand of baseball that we got today.