The 1961 Phillies are safe.
They remain the last Phillies team to reach triple-digit losses.
The 2017 Phillies avoided the ignominy of 100 losses as they rode a pair of big hits by Tommy Joseph and Cameron Rupp and the excellent bullpen work of Edubray Ramos, Adam Morgan, Luis Garcia and Hector Neris to a 4-1 win over the National League East champion Washington Nationals at Citizens Bank Park on Tuesday night (see observations).
Manager Pete Mackanin had recently downplayed avoiding 100 losses as a goal. His focus has been simply on seeing improvement from his young, rebuilding club.
But win No. 63 made Mackanin pretty happy.
"When I said 100 losses didn't matter — I lied," Mackanin said with a laugh. "I admit it. Great win."
The 1961 Phillies, under second-year skipper Gene Mauch, went 47-107.
Rupp had the game's biggest hit, a bullet of a two-run double over the centerfielder's head in the bottom of the third inning. It gave the Phillies and starter Jake Thompson a 3-1 lead. Rhys Hoskins padded the lead with a sacrifice fly in the seventh and the aforementioned quartet of relievers registered nine of 12 outs via the strikeout to close it out.
Rupp was around two years ago when the 2015 Phillies lost 99 games. With four more games left before it's time to go home for the winter, Rupp hopes Tuesday night's win is not this team's last.
"I've already lost 99 one time," said the catcher, who turns 29 on Thursday. "Let's win a couple more."
Not long ago, the Phillies were on a clear path to triple-digit losses. An influx of young talent, led by Hoskins and Nick Williams, and much improved bullpen work have helped the Phillies go 34-37 after the All-Star break, a major improvement after they were 29 games under .500 before the break.
"It's one of those things we know," Rupp said of the specter of 100 losses. "But we come out every day and try to let the results show. There's been a lot of games that we've been right in and the ball hasn't rolled our way, a lot of one-run and two-run losses. One big hit here and there and we flip our record in one-run games. It's not that we’re far away. We've got the players here. We just have to get that big hit."
The Phillies are 21-36 in one-run games.
Rupp's double in the third inning came against Washington starter Gio Gonzalez, who did not pitch up to his 2.68 ERA, which was third best in the NL entering the game. Mackanin said he started Rupp because he had good numbers against the lefty Gonzalez — five hits, including two doubles, in 14 career at-bats.
The Phillies played good defense in this game, particularly J.P. Crawford at third base. He started a big double play behind Thompson in the first inning and later made a diving snare of a 108-mph liner off the bat of Ryan Zimmerman. But nothing made Mackanin happier than seeing Joseph and Rupp get their big hits in the third inning.
Joseph and Rupp have lost playing time in recent weeks as management looks at young players. It's unclear where both players fit into the team's future. It's possible both could be with other clubs next season.
But right now, they are Phillies, and their heads are high.
"I was very happy for both of those guys," Mackanin said. "The way they've handled the whole situation — it's a testament to their professionalism."
Rupp has lost time to rookie Jorge Alfaro in recent weeks. Joseph has lost it to Hoskins.
"It's one of those things where when I get my chance, I've got to perform," Rupp said. "It doesn't matter the situation. It doesn't matter who's in there. You get your chance, you need to show them what you can do. It's the situation that we're in. It's no secret when we get our chance, we have to perform."
Rupp and Joseph got their chance Tuesday night.
The 1961 Phillies are safe for at least another year.