PHILS INSIDER

'It feels like a bad dream' for Realmuto as fading Phillies fall off playoff grid with 4 to play

PHILS INSIDER

In 1964, a Cincinnati Reds rookie from Cuba named Chico Ruiz stole home and detonated the most painful collapse in Phillies history.

Fifty-six years later, another rookie from Cuba delivered a haymaker to the Phillies' collective chin and you have to wonder if this fading team is now down for the count in the National League pennant chase.

Yadiel Hernandez, an almost 33-year-old career minor-leaguer playing in just his seventh big-league game, clubbed a two-run home run, the first of his career, in the bottom of the eighth inning Tuesday night as the Washington Nationals rallied to beat the Phillies, 8-7, in the second game of a doubleheader.

The Phillies also lost the first game of the doubleheader, 5-1. Washington right-hander Austin Voth entered that game 0-5 with a 7.17 ERA and he'd allowed 10.8 hits per nine innings. Voth pitched the best game of his big-league career in holding the Phils to just three hits while out-pitching Aaron Nola, who was not helped by his defense.

The miserable day in D.C. dropped the Phillies to 27-29 with four games remaining in the season.

The Phils have lost 14 of their last 22 games and four in a row, including three against a Washington team that is playing out the string and ready to go home. The doubleheader loss Tuesday dropped the Phils out of the top eight in the NL playoff race and they will now need to play just about perfect ball, while getting some outside help, to get into the eight-team postseason field.

 

As recently as Sunday morning, the Phils had an 87 percent chance of making the postseason, according to Fangraphs' math. After Tuesday night's sweep, their chances had shrunk to 35 percent.

"It definitely feels like a bad dream," said J.T. Realmuto. "The bottom line is we have to play better, and we have to play better in a hurry.

"We're still in it. We're not eliminated yet. We still have a chance to make the playoffs. We just have to play better baseball, all around.

"We're running out of time a little but mathematically it's possible. We just have to play better.

"Sometimes it only takes one play to get on a roll."

And sometimes it only takes one play to thrust a dagger into a team's season. The Phillies hope Hernandez' walk-off homer wasn't that.

The Phillies offense battled back from a 6-3 deficit in the nightcap and tied the game when Realmuto legged out an infield hit in the sixth.

After the seventh inning concluded with the game tied, the Phillies opened the eighth with a man on second and quickly pushed home the tie-breaking run.

The Phillies had gotten four scoreless innings from Tommy Hunter and Hector Neris when manager Joe Girardi went to the unreliable Brandon Workman for the save in the bottom of the eighth. With a man on second, Workman struck out Eric Thames for the first out before serving up a 2-1 cutter that the 5-foot-9 Hernandez pulled to right for the game-winning homer.

Workman walked off the mound with his head down.

It was a familiar sight. 

The right-hander was supposed to be part of a bullpen solution when he came over from Boston in late August. Instead, he, Heath Hembree and David Phelps, the three big adds to the bullpen, have combined to throw gasoline on what was already a raging fire. Phelps allowed three hits and three runs without getting an out in the nightcap.

The bullpen's ERA is a major-league worst 7.21. It has blown 12 saves, the most in the NL.

Since joining the Phillies, Workman is 1-4 with three blown saves. He has allowed 23 hits, including four homers, and 10 runs in 13 innings.

Workman appeared shaken when he met with reporters via video conference after the game.

"This wasn't what I was looking for or what the team was looking for when I came over," he said. "I have to do my job light years better than what I'm doing it right now."

Girardi seemed at a loss to explain why the bullpen he's been handed — and particularly the recent trade additions — have been so bad.

"It's hard to explain," he said. "We've worked at it and tried to get them right. They've all had success in the past and for whatever reason it hasn't happened here. It's extremely frustrating.

"I haven't seen it before. It's happened to other bullpens, but I've personally never been part of a bullpen that has struggled like this one this year."