PHILS INSIDER

'I feel like I failed' -- Phillies' postseason drought reaches 10 years

PHILS INSIDER

There is only darkness.

Familiar, agonizing darkness.

The Phillies' postseason drought has reached a decade.

Six months after opening the season with a giddy three-game sweep of the Atlanta Braves, the Phillies found themselves on the wrong end of a fatal three-game sweep to the very same club Thursday night.

The Phillies' 5-3 loss in Atlanta eliminated them from postseason contention as the triumphant Braves popped champagne corks in celebration of their fourth straight National League East title.

Joe Girardi's post-game mood was starkly different. His voice was husky with emotion as he spoke of the disappointment that came with elimination.

"I feel like I failed, you know, getting us to where we wanted to get to," the second-year Phillies manager said. "I always take full responsibility. I failed and it's a really empty feeling. 

"It's extreme disappointment because of what we put into it. And when you have a chance in the last week and you don't get it done, it's extreme disappointment.

"It stinks. It hurts. We've been going at this since that last day of last year from a mental standpoint, from a physical standpoint, and it hurts.

"We've got to get better. We need to break this (playoff drought), and we'll go to work on doing that. 

"But the bottom line is, we didn't get it done and that's the reason you put this uniform on, to compete and to win."

The Phillies have three games remaining, all in Miami against the Marlins, before heading home for the 10th straight year without a postseason appearance. Only the Seattle Mariners, who last made the postseason in 2001, have gone longer without making the postseason and they remain alive in the American League wild-card race.

 

At 81-78, the Phillies need at least one win to have their first winning season since 2011.

The way this team is limping to the finish line, one wonders if they'll even get that win.

Girardi intends to keep pushing.

"It's important to play the season out and have respect for the game," he said. "It means something to someone. Ranger (Suarez) will pitch tomorrow. It means something to him. So, to me, you have to play this out."

"It would be nice to have a winning season," Andrew McCutchen said. "But this is just a day that stinks. It hurts. We didn't do what we needed to do and that's not a good feeling."

The Phillies did not swing the bats well in Atlanta. They entered the series on the heels of being shut out by Pittsburgh in their final home game Sunday then scored just six runs in the three games in Atlanta. Two of those runs were unearned.

"It's hard to win a series scoring six runs in three games," Girardi said.

The Phillies won eight games in a row to take a two-game lead in the NL East on August 8.

It was their division to lose -- and they lost it. After that eight-game winning streak, they lost 11 of 15 and never led the division again.

They headed to Atlanta earlier this week trailing the Braves by 2½ games. Yes, the odds were against the Phils, but they weren't impossible. They basically needed to sweep the Braves -- just like they did back in April -- to stay alive and put the pressure on Atlanta heading into the final week of the season. 

Instead, it was the Phillies who were swept.

With the exception of a couple of late homers by McCutchen and J.T. Realmuto in Thursday night's game, the bats barely put up a fight.

The Phils had just 13 hits in the three games.

MVP candidate Bryce Harper went 0 for 11 with five strikeouts in the series.

Jean Segura went 1 for 12.

Realmuto went 1 for 12.

Not enough.

Zack Wheeler and Aaron Nola delivered quality starts in the first two games of the series, but Charlie Morton and Max Fried were both better in leading the Braves to wins of 2-1 and 7-2.

On Thursday night, Kyle Gibson was tagged for five runs in 4⅓ innings. He gave up four hits -- solo homers by Jorge Soler and Austin Riley, an RBI double by Dansby Swanson and an RBI triple by Ozzie Albies.

Braves right-hander Ian Anderson, taken two picks after the Phillies selected Mickey Moniak first overall in the 2016 draft, made it three straight strong starts for the Braves. He held the Phillies scoreless over the first six innings before McCutchen's two-run homer in the seventh. Realmuto homered against reliever Luke Jackson with two outs in the eighth to make it a two-run game.

 

The Phils did not get any closer.

And now, there is only darkness.

Again.

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