Phillies

Braves 12, Phillies 6: Flopping Phillies plummet to third place in NL East

Braves 12, Phillies 6: Flopping Phillies plummet to third place in NL East

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ATLANTA — The floundering Phillies reached their low point of the season in an embarrassing 12-6 loss to the Atlanta Braves on Thursday night.

The Phillies’ 20th loss in the last 32 games dropped them into third place in the NL East for the first time this season.

Just five weeks ago, the Phils were in first place in the division, 3½ games up on the second-place Braves and 10 up on the third-place Washington Nationals.

The Braves are 22-9 since the start of June and the Nationals are 26-10 in their last 36 games. Both teams have now passed the Phillies, who are 45-42.

The Phils opened this series in Atlanta with a nice 2-0 victory behind Aaron Nola. But starting pitching abandoned them the next two nights and they lost two of three in the series and are now 6½ games out of first place.

A galling way to lose

A win would have kept the Phils in second place and allowed them to pick up a game on the Braves in the series.

Things actually looked good — briefly — for the Phils. They jumped out to a 4-0 lead on All-Star right-hander Mike Soroka in the first inning.

The lead did not last long as the Braves’ potent offense mugged starter Zach Eflin for seven runs in three innings.

Soroka, who allowed six singles in the first inning, did not allow another run the remainder of his 4⅔ innings. He exited at 100 pitches. He is just 21 and the Braves are being careful with him.

Killer long balls

The Phillies gave up five homers.

Eflin allowed a solo homer to Dansby Swanson in the first inning and a three-run shot to Ozzie Albies in the third. Albies’ homer came with two outs after Eflin pitched around Brian McCann in a four-pitch walk. Albies turned on a 1-1 fastball and made Eflin pay.

Home runs remain a huge problem for this pitching staff. Reliever Edgar Garcia gave up back-to-back homers in the fourth inning. The Braves made it five homers when Swanson went deep again in the ninth.

On Wednesday night, the Phils gave up three homers.

Phillies pitching has allowed 150 homers, the most in the National League, in 87 games. Only Baltimore and Seattle had given up more homers in the majors entering Thursday night and those two teams are among the worst clubs in baseball.

The Phils are well on their way to blowing past the team record for homers allowed — 221 in 2017.

No pop

The Phils had 12 hits in the game, but just two for extra bases.

Meanwhile, 10 of the Braves’ 12 hits were for extra bases and five landed over the wall.

Transaction

One day after getting tagged for four hits and three runs in one-third of an inning, reliever Juan Nicasio was placed on the injured list with a groin strain. Reliever Austin Davis rode the Lehigh Valley shuttle back to the big leagues.

Up next

The Phillies play their final three games before the All-Star break on Friday, Saturday and Sunday in New York against the Mets.

The Mets are going worse than the Phillies at 39-48, but they have a chance to give the Phils problems in the series as they will send their three best arms, Jacob deGrom, Noah Syndergaard and Zack Wheeler to the mound. Vince Velasquez, Jake Arrieta and Aaron Nola will pitch for the Phils.

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Gabe Kapler’s non-answer on Nick Williams’ future speaks volumes

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Gabe Kapler’s non-answer on Nick Williams’ future speaks volumes

ATLANTA — Nick Williams has become a forgotten man on this Phillies roster. He was brought back from Triple A when rosters expanded in September, but entered Tuesday night with just one at-bat in 13 games since his return.

Williams was a key piece in the big rebuild trade that sent Cole Hamels to the Rangers in July 2015.

But time seems to be running out on the 26-year-old outfielder and manager Gabe Kapler’s response to a question on Tuesday about Williams’ future seemed to confirm that idea.

The question went like this:

Do you think Nick Williams has a future in this organization?

Kapler’s answer went like this:

“Um, I think he has the talent. He’s a gifted athlete from every perspective.”

That was it.

Kapler did not answer the question directly and that was telling. Williams will probably be on the move this winter, along with Maikel Franco and others.

Williams was in a tough spot from the get-go this season. The team is not comfortable playing him in center field and the acquisitions of Bryce Harper and Andrew McCutchen, both former NL MVPs, left him with no corner spot to get at-bats. Williams was sent to Triple A four times during the season. He .316 with 10 homers, 25 RBIs and a .955 OPS in 190 at-bats at Triple A, but struggled in sporadic action in the majors. Entering Tuesday night, he was hitting .157 with a .459 OPS in 102 at-bats at the big-league level.

“I think he’s put in a lot of work and people have put in a lot of work thinking about him,” Kapler said. “I don’t know. I think he’s struggled with some things this season.”

Williams, at times, has looked beaten and worn down this season. He seems to be the epitome of someone who’d benefit from a change of scenery. His name has come up in trade discussions before and he likely will be shopped this winter. Like Kapler said, Williams has talent. Maybe a different team can unlock it.

For now, don’t look for Williams to get a bunch of playing time over the final two weeks of the Phillies season.

Kapler said Williams was “behind a few guys on our roster.” He mentioned Brad Miller and Jay Bruce as two of them.



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At the Yard podcast: How much could final 2 weeks affect Gabe Kapler's job status with Phillies?

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At the Yard podcast: How much could final 2 weeks affect Gabe Kapler's job status with Phillies?

Will Gabe Kapler get a third season as Phillies manager? What organizational changes might we see this offseason? Jim Salisbury and Corey Seidman discuss.

• Will 82-80 mean anything different to Phillies' decision-makers than 80-82?

• Is Gabe Kapler managing for his job?

• How much will final two weeks affect Kapler?

• If Phillies do make a managerial change, who might be top candidates?

• Background on exciting young pitching prospect Ethan Lindow.

• Offseason plans for Alec Bohm and Spencer Howard.

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