MLB Wild Card: Phillies complicate life by losing to Nationals

WASHINGTON — The Phillies continue to complicate their lives in the final days of their quest to end a 10-year playoff drought.

They lost the first game of a doubleheader to baseball’s worst team on Saturday afternoon for a number of reasons, but poor defense, a long-standing problem with this top-ranked club.

Joey Meneses, a name passionate followers of the Phillies’ minor league system will remember, made four runs as the Washington Nationals slapped the Phillies with a damaging 13-4 loss in which the Phils ultimately had to use a position player on the mound. , an embarrassing development at any time, but especially in the final days of a playoff pursuit.

Three of Meneses’ RBIs came on a brace that eluded third baseman Alec Bohm with two outs in the second inning. The ball came off the stick at just 78 mph. Bohm was lucky enough to make a backhand play on the ball, either on the jump or in the air, and did neither. The next hitter, Luke Voit, pushed Kyle Gibson deep to complete a five-run inning and give the Nationals a 6-1 lead they never relinquished.

The loss was the Phillies’ sixth in the last seven games and 11th in the last 15 as they continue to falter to the finish line with their playoff hopes faltering. At 84-73, they’re tied with Milwaukee for the last wildcard spot in the NL. Both teams will be in action on Saturday night. The Brewers host Miami while the Phillies will go with Noah Syndergaard to the last drink in Washington.

“We have to get them in the second game,” manager Rob Thomson said. “See what we’re made of.”

And what is this Phillies team made of that is 11-15 in September?

“All year I’ve said they’re resilient and they fight and they come back and they do it,” Thomson said. “Even in the eighth and ninth innings, there was a lot of energy on the bench. The whole game, you think we’re going to come back.

“This team has been resilient all year and I trust them and I trust them and I trust them and I think everything will be fine.”

The results of Game 2 in Washington and the Brewers-Marlins game in Milwaukee will go a long way in determining whether the Phillies will do well.

The Phillies acquired Syndergaard at the trade deadline, but he was moved to the bullpen after eight starts, the last four of which saw him give up 30 hits and 15 earned runs in 22 innings.

Like Syndergaard, Gibson has also had a lot of recent struggles. He had a 9.53 ERA in five starts in September, and the Phillies lost four of those games. The first day of October brought no better results for Gibson. He was introduced with a 1-0 lead in the top of the first inning and then walked the leadoff batter in the bottom of the inning. It turned into an equalizer run.

In the second inning, Gibson gave up three two-out singles — one was a hit on which CJ Abrams beat second baseman Jean Segura’s throw — before Meneses ran past Bohm for three runs.

It might have been a different game had Segura or Bohm played behind Gibson.

“Usually he’s going to make this play,” Thomson said of Meneses’ ball kicked by Bohm. “He just had a bad read. It was kind of a change, a hooked ball. He just had a late break. He should have knocked him down if he could.”

Game changer?

“Yeah,” Thomson said. “It was a big part of the game. And Abrams beat the hit earlier in the inning. I don’t know if the runner got in the way of Seggy and he changed his route. I think he thought it was tougher. than it was.”

Gibson didn’t point a finger at his defense.

“I don’t think it took me out of my game,” he said. “I’m not one to sit here and talk negatively about any of our guys. They work hard every day. Sometimes it doesn’t go our way, sometimes it does. When It’s not going our way, I’m not going to sit here and say anything negative. I think everyone involved knows that’s part of the game. I had chances to limit the damage after that and I didn’t.”

Later in the game, Meneses homered against Gibson, who ultimately allowed eight hits and seven runs.

Meneses is a 30-year-old minor leaguer who made his major league debut with the Nationals on Aug. 8. Since being called up, he leads the Nats with 68 hits, 13 home runs and 33 RBIs.

One of Meneses’ minor league saves was Lehigh Valley in 2018. He hit .311 with 23 home runs and 82 RBI, but was never sniffed out by the big club. Four years later, he put a dent in the team’s playoff hopes.

Add Comment