I guess you could say that today was a microcosm of the Phillies’ season. It began with so much promise, but by the end, things were a total mess.
Aaron Nola came out firing, striking out seven of the first nine batters he faced. It looked like Nola, as he has done on numerous occasions this season, was going to put the Phillies on his back. Phillie-killer Daniel Murphy had other plans:
Daniel Murphy will not be struck out, Young Nola. Not today. pic.twitter.com/I2LOiRo6ny
— Greatest Show on Dirt Baseball Podcast (@greatestondirt) September 2, 2018
It is at least worth mentioning that while Murphy manned second base for the Cubs this afternoon, Pedro Florimón did so for the Phillies. He probably did so, at least in part, because Cesar Hernandez entered today hitting .212 with a .604 OPS since the All-Star break. Now, I’m not saying the Phillies should have claimed Murphy last month, or implying that they would have worked out a deal with the Nationals had they done so, but again, it’s at least worth mentioning.
Nola struck out 11 Cubs hitters, but also went on to surrender solo shots to Anthony Rizzo and Javy Baez before a Kyle Schwarber RBI triple knocked him out of the game in the sixth. It was the first time that Nola surrendered more than three earned runs in a game at Citizens Bank Park this season. Not that it mattered. The Phillies’ offense failed to produce a run until it was down to its last out.
It was yet another disappointing series as this team continues its slog toward the finish line. They managed only four runs over 28 innings on their way to dropping two out of three games to the Cubs. The Phillies are on the verge of going a full calendar month without a series win. In fact, they are 1-8-2 over their last 11 series dating back to late July. I keep hearing about their favorable schedule and seven head-to-head games left with Atlanta. The Braves, too, have issues, and crazier shit has happened, I guess. But what does this team do well? What’s the strength they’re going to rely on over the final four weeks of September that will allow them to string together a few consecutive wins (something they haven’t done with any consistency since late July) and get hot? What is there to feel good about? I want to come up with something, but I just can’t.
It’s easy to overreact when things aren’t going well, but even for the most steadfast optimist or even keel observer, it has to be hard continuing to play postseason make believe with the Phillies after games like this one.