Phillies

Braves 5, Phillies 3: Phils eliminated as Atlanta pops champagne corks

Braves 5, Phillies 3: Phils eliminated as Atlanta pops champagne corks

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ATLANTA — And so the collapse is complete.

The Phillies, looking lifeless for the first seven innings, officially bowed out of the National League East race Saturday afternoon in a 5-3 loss to the Atlanta Braves.

The Braves locked up their first division title since 2013. They have beaten the Phillies three straight days in a four-game series that concludes Sunday.

The Phillies led the NL East by 1½ games on Aug. 5. They were 15 games over .500 at that point. Since then, they are 15-28. The Braves are 27-20 since then.

Still a postseason chance?

Not really. The loss reduced the Phillies’ tragic number for elimination from the wild-card race to two and it could be one by the end of the day. Winning the division had long been this team’s best route to the postseason and that shipped has sailed.

Or sunk.

The Phillies’ postseason drought will rise to seven years.

A fitting demise

Saturday’s elimination loss to Atlanta was befitting of the way the Phillies have played in recent weeks. They did not have a hit against Atlanta starter Mike Foltynewicz until Odubel Herrera’s leadoff single in the seventh. Phillies starter Jake Arrieta was torched for four hits and four runs in two innings — the shortest start of his career.

Too little, too late

Down 4-0, the Phillies rallied for three runs in the eighth. Cesar Hernandez had a two-run single and Rhys Hoskins snapped a 0-for-12 skid with an RBI single. Jonny Venters retired Aaron Altherr on a liner to left and Carlos Santana on a ground ball to short to strand two runners and preserve the Braves’ lead.

The Braves, aided by the Phillies’ 115th error of the season (second-most in the majors), got a run back in the bottom of the eighth inning.

Big money, little return

Back in March, the Phillies signed Arrieta to a three-year, $75 million contract — his $30 million salary this season is the largest ever for a Philadelphia athlete — because they believed his talent and veteran experience would be valuable in snapping a long postseason drought.

Arrieta has come up small down the stretch. He has a 6.64 ERA over his last eight starts. In 12 starts after the All-Star break, his ERA is 5.09.

The right-hander came out of the chute Saturday with a pair of four-pitch walks. In fact, he issued four-pitch walks to three of the Braves’ first four hitters. He gave up a pair of two-run singles in the first two innings — one might have been shift-aided — and was lifted for a pinch-hitter.

Up Next

Carson Wentz makes his season debut Sunday.

Aaron Nola will also be in action for his 32nd start of the season. Nola is 16-5 with a 2.44 ERA. He is two-thirds of an inning shy of 200 for the season and has 210 strikeouts. Nola is scheduled to have one more start after Sunday, but it’s conceivable that the Phils will hold him out of that one and save some bullets for the next season.

More on the Phillies

A simpler approach could get Rhys Hoskins to the future slugger we envisioned

A simpler approach could get Rhys Hoskins to the future slugger we envisioned

The Phillies finally got their slugger of the future.

That’s what Phillies fans and many people around the game were thinking after Rhys Hoskins became the fastest player in MLB history to slug 18 career home runs, accomplishing the feat in 34 games. Hoskins set the mark in a win against the Miami Marlins on September 14th, 2017 and you can relive it today on NBC Sports Philadelphia.

That home run off of former Phillie Vance Worley would also be the last of Hoskins’ rookie campaign. In the two seasons that have followed since, Hoskins has hit a more-than-respectable 63 total home runs. But his slugging percentage dropped in each season since 2017, going from .618 SLG as a rookie to .454 SLG in 2019.

So, where does Hoskins go from here? It would be overly critical to question whether Hoskins will be a one-year wonder. He has posted solid, if not spectacular, power numbers since that first season. But he also hasn’t been anywhere near the conversation for best power hitters in the National League either.

Here’s a reason for optimism: As much as he said the right things, my sense is that Hoskins was negatively impacted by the launch angle, pitch-taking mindset set forth as dogma by the Gabe Kapler regime. Hoskins already possesses those tendencies naturally. Adding more thought to the equation led to plate paralysis. As walks increased, production diminished from a player that this franchise is counting upon to create runs. With Joe Girardi and hitting coach Joe Dillon at the helm, there’s reason to think we’ll see Hoskins get back to “see ball, hit ball” mode.

It also can’t hurt to have a full season under his belt with Bryce Harper. While the two have a good relationship, it couldn’t have been easy to go from leading man to best supporting actor status. That dynamic should come more comfortably for Hoskins in the seasons ahead.

Who knows what the 2020 season will look like? Or if we’ll even have a season? But my bet is that Hoskins figures it out and puts together a 40 home run season in the not-too-distant future.

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Phillies Talk podcast: Shane Victorino joins to talk some ball

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Phillies Talk podcast: Shane Victorino joins to talk some ball

A special guest joined the Phillies Talk podcast Friday: former Phillies All-Star and World Series champion Shane Victorino.

• Victorino on the sports shutdown

• His love of Philly, the fans and how they embraced him

• Why Philly made such a difference in his life

• The confidence that Charlie Manuel and Gene Lamont gave him

• Shane on his famous walk-off outfield assist

• Victorino's 40-yard dash vs. Troy Polamalu

• Victorino on Bryce Harper

• His message to Phillies fans

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Apple Podcasts / Google Play / Spotify / Stitcher / Art19 / YouTube

More on the Phillies