That, as they say, is that.
How the Phillies were going to respond from such a devastating loss on Thursday, when they were one strike away from a win to start the run of home games against sub-.500 teams, a run that was supposed to be the stretch that allowed the Phillies to catch and pass the Atlanta Braves in hopes of winning the National League East only to have it disappear in five minutes after a few terrible pitches by closer Ian Kennedy.
It was a bad loss, but it was one the Phillies had to put behind them because, after all, it was just one loss. They were still within striking distance of the Braves. The Phillies needed to get back on track. They needed to respond.
They have been a resilient team all season. They have always punched back when they were stuck in the corner or up against the ropes. It was one of the things that kept the most hopeful fans hanging in with the Phillies into this September and kept them believing.
But it seems the latest blown save and late-inning crusher of a loss was the one that finally broke their spirit.
The Phillies emerged Friday looking like a herd on The Walking Dead. They were somewhat recognizable. They looked familiar, but with the exception of Bryce Harper, who continues to try to do absolutely everything he can in an effort to will his team to win, they were zombies on the field.
The offense was missing in action, yet again. Both runs were scored in garbage time in the bottom of the ninth. And the pitching was, quite simply, a joke.
Once again, the Phillies had to throw a bullpen game because they can’t find a fifth starter anywhere in their system that offers them a better chance of winning, and trotted out the following names in an attempt to win a game that was crucial to making the playoffs.
Sam Coonrod. Bailey Falter. Cam Bedrosian. Matt Moore. Ramon Rosso. Enyel De Los Santos. J.D. Hammer.
I mean come on.
Coonrod was fine. He pitched another clean inning, as he and Hector Neris seem to be the two guys who have it going right now in the bullpen with Connor Brogdon a decent third option.
But everyone else? From Falter through De Los Santos, the ERA’s alone tell a story: 5.86, 5.03, 6.13, 7.94. 6.75.
How can this be a viable plan to win a game in the major leagues?
And Hammer, well, appropriately, he put the nail in the coffin because he has completely lost his mechanics that had him go on a decent run out of the pen over the previous few weeks, and he gave up the almost comical grand slam home run to Elias Diaz that made it 11-0, Colorado.
This is a Rockies team that was 18-50 on the road this season before winning in Philadelphia Thursday and Friday.
But, it doesn’t matter who the Phillies are playing. They could have the Aston Middletown Little League coming in for three games, there are no guarantees with this team.
The Phillies have crumbled, falling to 71-70, and 4 1/2 games behind the Braves with 21 to play. While mathematically, their chances are still not impossible, especially with a three-game series against Atlanta on the horizon at the end of the month, this team doesn’t appear to be in the right mindset to make such a spirited run.
Because the spirit wasn’t there in a game when the Phillies needed it most.
Instead, we got this, which is so apropos:
— BJ (@Phila_BJ) September 11, 2021
We’ll see if the Phillies can barrel more balls than helmet racks on Saturday.