Phillies Finally Solve Diamondbacks, Snap Three-Game Losing Streak

PHOTO CREDIT: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

Well, the Phillies finally beat the Diamondbacks. They finally conquered what apparently is Major League Baseball’s best team to ever be more than 40 games under .500.

By outlasting the NL West powerhouse in a game that lasted more than four hours, the Phillies returned to the familiar confines of the .500 mark for the 24th time this season.

It wasn’t exactly an inspiring victory, but the Phillies did enough to snap a three-game losing streak and stay 5 1/2 games behind the Braves, which is something. I guess.

Of course, the Phillies’ walk-off 7-6 win in extras that came on a Jean Segura base-hit didn’t come without a hallmark “what the f***?” moment or two.

Holding a 4-2 lead in the ninth inning, closer Ian Kennedy promptly allowed a leadoff single to Pavin Smith. Four pitches later, Christian Walker mashed an elevated changeup to tie the game, marking a Phillies franchise-record 26th blown save of the season.

In the 10th inning, the teams traded two-run homers. Ketel Marte briefly gave Arizona a 6-4 advantage before Brad Miller tied things up in the bottom half, setting the stage for Segura’s clutch hit an inning later.

The Phillies will hope the walk-off single propels a recently struggling Segura, who is hitting just .164 over his last 15 games.

Most Valuable Waste

Bryce Harper provided an early spark in the third inning with his 25th homer of the season, one that traveled 406 feet the opposite way to give the Phillies a 2-0 lead.

After finishing the night with two hits and two walks in five plate appearances, Harper now has a 1.001 OPS this season. He’s currently just one of two Major League players with a 1.000 OPS or better (Fernando Tatis Jr.).

Harper’s astronomical numbers are even more impressive when you consider that he’s spent most of the last three weeks without much support from a slumping lineup.

While every Harper at-bat provides a temporary relief from an otherwise draining product, swings like the one above highlight the shame that such a remarkable effort is being wasted in the midst of what increasingly appears to be a lost season.

As the Phillies made their early-August surge up the NL East standings, it wasn’t hard to imagine Harper building an MVP case with a number of dramatic moments that strengthened a narrative to ago along with his strong statistical output.

But now, it will be difficult for Harper to build his best case with voters if the Phillies continue to spin their wheels against baseball’s cellar-dwellers.

Tough Finish, But Good Start for Aaron Nola

For a second straight start, Aaron Nola pitched well, but finished his outing on a sour note.

Like he did his last time out, Nola got off to a strong start. He retired Diamondbacks hitters in order four times over the first five innings while limiting Arizona to just one hit.

He took a 2-0 lead into the sixth inning, but that’s when he ran into trouble.

With a runner on first and one away, Josh Rojas ripped an RBI triple into the right field corner that ended Nola’s night. One batter later, Josh VanMeter tied the game with a sacrifice fly off Phillies reliever Connor Brogdon.

Still, Nola, who struck out seven while allowing just three total baserunners, was good enough to help prevent the Phillies from losing for a seventh straight time with either himself or Zack Wheeler on the mound.

Frankly, I don’t have the capacity to write about the ramifications of Nola’s start in terms of how it relates to a potential Phillies’ last-gasp playoff push.

Nola has thrown the ball well in three of his last four outings, compiling a 3.63 ERA in those starts. But the Phillies entered the night losers in 11 of their previous 15 games and just figured out how to beat the 44-86 Diamondbacks for the first time in five tries.

Still, in a season that feels destined to end in disappointment, a September resurgence by the Phillies’ former ace would be the most important development for a team in desperate search of some answers beyond 2021.

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