The Phillies haven’t often done what they’ve needed to do against inferior opponents this season, frequently tripping just as they are about to approach the still (somehow) open door to a postseason berth.
They certainly didn’t do it last night in a costly 2-0 loss to the lowly Orioles. Down to their final out tonight, it appeared a similarly baffling-yet-unsurprising result was once again in the cards.
J.T. Realmuto bailed out the Phillies with a key two-out, two-run triple that, at least for one more day, saved the team’s season.
— Brodes Media (@BrodesMedia) September 22, 2021
After the game, Realmuto credited teammates Jean Segura and Freddy Galvis for their scouting report on Orioles pitcher César Valdez. Galvis didn’t face Valdez, but the two were teammates earlier this season.
Segura, meanwhile, was blown away on three pitches in a non-competitive at-bat earlier in the 10th inning.
Apparently, that ugly strikeout proved useful nonetheless.
“I talked to Seggy actually when they went out and had the meeting on the mound,” Realmuto said. “I talked to him and Freddy, and they kind of gave me an idea of what his changeup looked like because I never faced him before. Kind of helped me out with an approach that would work off of him. That’s what I took up there, so really, hats off to those guys for giving me a plan to go up there with.”
The reality remains that the Phillies may have already blown one too many chances. Despite five more games against supposedly weak competition at Citizens Bank Park this week before getting one last shot at the division-leading Braves, it may be too late.
If you remain skeptical about the viability of this team closing a three-game gap on Atlanta with 11 games to go, even with three head-to-head meetings and an otherwise soft schedule, you are forgiven.
The 14 scoreless innings to start a must-win, possibly must-sweep series against a Baltimore team that entered the night allowing an MLB-worst 5.96 runs per game doesn’t exactly inspire a ton of confidence. This is especially true as their season-long shortcomings don’t seem to be going anywhere, even in must-win situations against teams playing out the string.
The Phillies have Zack Wheeler on the mound against a 48-win team Wednesday night before hosting the 57-win Pirates for four games this weekend, all before what still could be a make-or-break date down in Atlanta next week.
So, they have a chance. At least for one more day.