PHILS INSIDER

If your confidence level in the Phillies is low, it's understandable

PHILS INSIDER

The 2020 Phillies are on death's doorstep.

They blew another lead in losing to the Tampa Bay Rays, 4-3, on Saturday night.

The Phillies, somehow, are still alive going into the final day of the season thanks to the Giants' loss to the Padres. The Phils can sneak into the playoffs with a win Sunday and losses by the Giants and Brewers. If that happens, all three teams would finish 29-31 and the Phillies have the tiebreaker.

If your confidence level in the Phillies is low, it's understandable. They have lost six of their last seven games to fall three games under .500. The best they can finish is two games under .500. They have not had a winning season since 2011, the last year they made the playoffs.

If they were to make the playoffs this season, they would be the first team ever to do so with a losing record. An eight-team playoff field has made that possible. 

Dubious distinction

The Phillies lost for the 21st time after holding a lead at one point in the game. That's the most in the majors.

They have led in 49 of their 59 games.

Wheeler's night

Zack Wheeler pitched into the eighth, gave up four runs and struck out eight. He threw 118 pitches, the most by a Phillies starter since Cole Hamels' no-hitter against the Cubs in July 2015.

Wheeler exited with the Phillies trailing by a run.

Andrew McCutchen's solo homer in the top of the fifth inning gave the Phillies a 2-1 lead.

Wheeler gave the lead back in the bottom of the inning when he allowed three two-out runs.

 

Rays catcher Mike Zunino, hitting .125, tied the game with a single that scored Manuel Margot, who had doubled with one out.

Wheeler kept the inning alive by hitting the next batter with a pitch and he paid for it when Brandon Lowe stroked an RBI single the other way through a Phillies shift. If shortstop Didi Gregorius was not in a shift, Wheeler would have been out of the inning with the game tied. Instead, Lowe's hit scored a run and the Rays added another on a hit by Willy Adames to go up 4-2.

Getting close

The Phils pulled to within a run on singles by McCutchen, Alec Bohm and Bryce Harper in the seventh. They could have gotten more in the inning, but J.T. Realmuto grounded into a double play and Jean Segura struck out with a man on third.

Hard to believe

The Phillies have lost each of Wheeler's last three starts.

This was the first time in 11 starts for the Phils this season that he gave up more than three runs.

Tough break

McCutchen, who had a big night, led off the third inning with what looked like a triple. After a review, he was told to retreat to second because the ball lodged under the outfield padding.

If the triple had stood, McCutchen would have scored on Realmuto's two-out single to center. Instead, he was thrown out at the plate by Kevin Kiermaier, Tampa Bay's Gold Glove center fielder. That proved to be a huge run.

Up next

Aaron Nola (5-4, 3.06) will make the most important start of his career in the regular-season finale Sunday afternoon. First pitch is 3:05 p.m. The Rays have not announced a starter.

The Phillies have lost Nola's last two starts. The right-hander has allowed eight earned runs in 11⅓ innings in those two outings.