PHILS INSIDER

As bad as these Phillies are, they still have a chance to win the World Series — stop laughing, it’s true

PHILS INSIDER

Things are going pretty badly for the Phillies, and yet, in this crazy, pandemic-shortened, 60-game, almost-everyone-gets-a-trophy 2020 season, they still have a chance to win the World Series.

You laugh, but they do.

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

They have lost six of their last seven games and 16 of their last 25.

They are three games under .500 and will finish without a winning record for a ninth straight season.

And, amazingly, they are not dead yet.

They should be.

But they're not.

Despite blowing another lead and losing, 4-3, to the Tampa Bays Rays in Game 59 of the season Saturday night, the Phils lived for one more day, the final day, thanks to the San Diego Padres, who beat Gabe Kapler's San Francisco Giants, 6-2, in a late game on the West Coast.

It was just what Joe Girardi, Kapler's successor as Phillies manager, was hoping for when he left Tropicana Field after his team's loss and started following the Padres-Giants game on his phone.

"I think all of us are frustrated that we're in this situation," Girardi said. "Ten days ago, it looked like we were in a pretty good spot and we have not played well. We have not necessarily played well enough on this road trip to make it. But San Francisco loses tonight, Milwaukee and San Francisco lose tomorrow, I still think we've got a shot."

 

A Giants win Saturday night would have given them the eighth and final National League playoff spot.

Milwaukee stayed alive for the eighth spot with a win Saturday night.

So here's the way things look heading into the final day of the season:

  • 8. Brewers (29-30)
  • 9. Giants (29-30)
  • 10. Phillies (28-31)

If the Phillies win Sunday in Tampa Bay, and the Brewers (at St. Louis) and Giants (vs. San Diego) both lose, all three teams will be 29-31 and the Phillies would get the eighth playoff spot because they have the tiebreaker on the other two clubs.

If the Phillies advance to the playoffs for the first time since 2011, they would be the first playoff team in the history of the game with a losing record.

"We all understand where we are as a team and where we've been as a team overall," Andrew McCutchen said. "We realize that we could be better as a whole, but we couldn't click at the same time and we had some key guys go down lately.

"It's frustrating because you see the team that you have around you and we know we should be there, we should easily be there, and to be on the outside looking in right now, it can be frustrating at times and it's a really sucky situation to be in, honestly."

McCutchen had a big night Saturday with four hits and three runs scored. He would have scored a fourth run but was cut down at the plate in the third inning after a would-be triple was ruled a double because it got caught under the outfield padding.

McCutchen gave the Phils a 2-1 lead with a solo homer in the fifth, but Zack Wheeler gave up three two-out runs in the bottom of the inning and the Phils never recovered.

Wheeler twice got two-out ground balls to shortstop (one in the fourth inning and one in the fifth inning) that turned into RBI singles. The one in the fifth was followed by another RBI hit so the shift basically cost Wheeler three runs.

"You're playing the law of averages and the law of averages got us twice tonight," Girardi said. "They hit a couple ground balls that beat us."

Wheeler, who pitched into the eighth on 118 pitches, the most by a Phillie since Cole Hamels' no-hitter against the Cubs in July 2015, wasn't happy with the results of the shift.

"You get a ground ball and you think it's going to be an out and you turn around and nobody is there, that's frustrating," he said. "It's one of those things, you like (the shift) when it's hit to the guy up the middle and you hate it when you turn around and nobody is there. I don't know what to tell you. I've had mixed feelings about it over the years. But I've got to be able to forget about it and make the next pitch and I wasn't able to do that. I wasn't able to minimize the damage." 

 

The four runs were the most that Wheeler allowed in a start this season. He made 11. He'd like to be able to make another one in the playoffs. Maybe he will. Maybe he won't. The final NL playoff spot is going right down to the end.