Even irrepressible Gabe Kapler seems a little down after Phillies’ 24th loss in 37 games

Even irrepressible Gabe Kapler seems a little down after Phillies’ 24th loss in 37 games


It feels like the Phillies’ postseason chances have been dead for a while, but in reality, the team is still mathematically alive. That’s why Sunday’s 6-4 loss to the Miami Marlins hurt so badly. The Phils squandered a chance to shave a game off the Atlanta Braves’ lead in the NL East. The Phillies have 14 games left — seven against Atlanta — but they trail the Braves by 6½ games.

Dejected skipper

Manager Gabe Kapler, usually talkative and full of energy after a game, seemed a little down after this one. Maybe that’s to be expected. His team was in first place, 1½ game up on Atlanta, after a win Aug. 5. Sunday’s loss was the Phils’ 24th in 37 games since then and Kapler didn’t seem pleased with the way his team played. 

“There were certainly some things we could have done better today,” he said.

He would not expound.

It’s possible that one of the things Kapler did not like was the inability to turn a double 1-6-3 double play in the fourth inning. That could have prevented Nick Pivetta from facing Peter O’Brien with two outs and a man on base. O’Brien homered to give the Marlins a 2-1 lead that they never relinquished.

Pivetta made a good throw on the play to shortstop J.P. Crawford but there was confusion at the bag because second baseman Cesar Hernandez also converged on the throw from Pivetta. Crawford’s relay to first sailed over the head of Carlos Santana.

Why the swoon?

GM Matt Klentak added several veterans, most notably Asdrubal Cabrera, Wilson Ramos and Justin Bour, around the trade deadline and the Phillies collapsed soon after. The need for the offensive upgrade was indisputable, but the additions seemed to do something to change the team’s chemistry. The chemistry is not necessarily bad, but it’s different.

“That’s a very valid question,” Klentak said when the topic was raised before Sunday’s game.

He and his staff had pondered the chemistry question — among others — over the last three weeks.

“The best answer I can give you is whatever it is that caused us to go into a team-wide slump in August is not limited to one factor,” he said. “It’s not one thing. And if it was, we would have hopefully identified it and made that adjustment.”

More on Pivetta

Seven of his first nine outs came on strikeouts. He gave up three runs in five innings and was replaced for a pinch-hitter. Kapler said the decision was based on the need for offense and confidence in the bullpen.

“I’m just going out there and trying to go as deep as I can into the game and when the manager says you’re done, you’re done,” Pivetta said. “I can only control what I’m doing in the game. When I get pulled, that’s the manager’s decision and that’s up to him.”

Late surge not enough

The Phillies trailed 6-2 before rallying for a pair of two-out runs in the bottom of the ninth inning. They were just 1 for 9 with runners in scoring position. Rhys Hoskins struck out looking with two men on base to end the seventh then struck out swinging with a runner on second to end the game.

The Phils had just five hits in the first 8 2/3 innings. 

Up next

The Phillies have three with the Mets. They are 6-10 against the Mets this season.

The Braves host wild-card contender St. Louis for three before the Phils arrive for four Thursday.

Will that series mean anything?

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Sources: Phillies to interview Buck Showalter on Monday

Sources: Phillies to interview Buck Showalter on Monday

The Phillies are quickly getting into their interview process for a new manager.

According to multiple sources, Buck Showalter will interview for the position on Monday. The meeting between Showalter and Phillies officials will take place in the metropolitan New York area, where Showalter is currently working as an analyst for the YES Network.

It is believed that Phillies officials will also speak with Joe Girardi while they are in the New York area on Monday. Girardi lives in that area.

Veteran skipper Dusty Baker is also on the Phillies' list of candidates, the Chicago Tribune reported Sunday. A source confirmed that and said Baker would interview with the Phillies later this week.

At a news conference on Friday, Phillies officials would not definitively say what they were looking for in their new manager, but it is believed that they would prefer to hire someone with big-league managerial experience and that has made Girardi and Showalter the presumed frontrunners.

Girardi managed the Yankees from 2008 to 2017. His Yankees team beat the Phillies in the 2009 World Series, prompting Phillies owner John Middleton to famously say, "I want my bleeping trophy back."

Showalter has managed the Yankees, Arizona Diamondbacks, Texas Rangers and Baltimore Orioles. He is a three-time American League manager of the year and has ties to several people in the Phillies front office, including club president Andy MacPhail, general manager Matt Klentak and assistant general manager Ned Rice. MacPhail led the Orioles baseball operations during part of Showalter's time in Baltimore and Klentak and Rice both worked in the front office. Rice, in fact, worked closely with Showalter during their time in Baltimore.

The Phillies fired Gabe Kapler last week and are one of eight teams with a managerial opening.

At Friday's news conference, MacPhail said Klentak would lead the search for a new Phillies skipper. 

"I don't think there's a relationship more important in a baseball organization than the manager and GM," MacPhail said. "If those two aren't simpatico, you really have issues. I believe it's John's and my goal that Matt go out and start the search. At the end, he's going to have to have the approval of John and I, just like with Gabe. John or I could have vetoed Gabe; we chose not to. But I can't imagine us hiring somebody that Matt is not fully on board with. John and I will have some influence on the guys that fit that criteria who we think might be the best fit, but it's got to emanate from the GM."

Showalter managed the Orioles though 2018 and is eager to manage again. Sources say he is intrigued by the Phillies job and has done homework on the roster.

Girardi interviewed with the Chicago Cubs last week and the New York Mets plan to interview him this week. He will manage somewhere in 2020.

Baker has 22 years of big-league managerial experience and is a three-time NL manager of the year. He last managed the Washington Nationals in 2017 and led that club to 97 wins and the NL East title.

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Source: Phillies set to interview Dusty Baker, one of Bryce Harper's former managers

Source: Phillies set to interview Dusty Baker, one of Bryce Harper's former managers

The Phillies will interview Dusty Baker for their managerial opening later this week, a source confirmed. The news was first reported Sunday by the Chicago Tribune.

Baker, 70, is currently a special advisor to the CEO for the San Francisco Giants.

He has 22 years of managerial experience and is almost universally well-liked. He's a player's manager who is 227 games over .500 in his career. He managed Bryce Harper in 2016 and 2017; the Nationals won 95 and 97 games those years but Baker's contract was not renewed after a pair of NLDS losses. It was a surprising move.

Baker is one of several prominent veteran managers on the market. Joe Girardi, Joe Maddon and Buck Showalter are also prime candidates to claim one of the eight available jobs. Maddon has been linked heavily to the Angels, while Girardi has been linked heavily to the Mets.

The Phillies will interview Showalter Monday in the New York area, according to multiple sources.

At Friday's press conference, Phillies GM Matt Klentak spoke of the organization's desire to have its next manager believe in their core baseball principles. It will likely be a manager who utilizes more of a blend of data and gut-feel. Baker has more than two decades of big-league experience and this would be the most analytically-driven organization he's ever been a part of. The fit is still worth exploring.

It makes sense for the Phillies to cast a wide net in their search. Managing partner John Middleton referenced Craig Counsell on Friday as the kind of high-quality manager whose value can be uncovered during this sort of process.

For more on other potential Phillies managerial candidates, look here.

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