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.
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.
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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