Phillies Latest Loss Just Another Heartbreaker, But is That Really a Bad Thing?
There’s no doubt that the Phillies 7-5 loss to Milwaukee Friday was one rooted in frustration.
There’s no doubt that the panic that sets in from the fans after losses like this will fester, whether it’s on social media, local talk radio, or in places like Reddit, the fans will definitely gripe about the following things:
- The bullpen stinks.
- The defense still stinks.
- We knew the lineup was going to struggle against good pitching.
In a vacuum, looking at one or two losses, these make sense, right?
I mean, after all, the Phillies bullpen lost their last game of the homestand to the Angels when Craig Kimbrel couldn’t preserve a ninth-inning lead. Then Jose Alvarado couldn’t get out of an eighth inning against Milwaukee and that ultimately led to them losing the game.
Of course, Alec Bohm’s three-run error was expected, because, he wasn’t good last year, and so he’s certainly still not good this year, right?
And the lineup, well, they only hit bad pitchers, but good pitchers they struggle against, so when they were flailing away at Freddy Peralta for six innings Friday, that’s evidence that the Phillies offense is fool’s gold.
It’s understandable. You want the Phillies to win every night. Hell, the Phillies want to win every night. It’s another thing that connects the team to the city, no?
But the reality is, in baseball, you are going to lose a bunch of games. You just are. It’s a 162-game season. They’re going to happen. And the Phillies have lost their share. Several, in fact, in a manner that immediately afterwards you say, “Damn, they should have won that game.”
Which is why I wanted to do this little exercise for you.
Here are the last 18 losses by the Phillies, going back to the last time they played the Brewers, in mid-July:
- 7/19 vs. Milwaukee – lost 5-3; Edmundo Sosa error leads to two runs early, Phillies tie it, bullpen gives up two runs, Phillies get the tying runs on base in the ninth, but Bryson Stott gets thrown out trying to steal second, killing the rally.
- 7/20 vs. Milwaukee – lost 4-0; Corbin Burnes is dominant on the mound with eight shutout innings and 10 strikeouts.
- 7/21 @ Cleveland – lost 6-5; Bohm is thrown out at home on a bad baserunning decision, Yunior Marte and Matt Strahm give up a pair of runs in the sixth inning in a shaky bullpen outing.
- 7/22 @ Cleveland – lost 1-0; The offense was mostly terrible against Tanner Bibee, getting just two hits and striking out eight times in seven innings. The only run scores when there is miscommunication between Brandon Marsh, Nick Castellanos, and Stott on a pop up.
- 7/24 vs. Baltimore – lost 3-2; Bryce Harper thrown out at home in the eighth inning on what would have been the go-ahead run, Kyle Schwarber can’t get to a fly ball that results in a go-ahead double for the Orioles in the ninth inning, Johan Rojas grounds out with the tying run in scoring position to end it in the ninth.
- 7/29 @ Pittsburgh – lost 7-6; Aaron Nola coughs up a 4-1 lead capped off by Marsh misplaying what was scored a go-ahead triple in centerfield. The Phillies load the bases with no outs in the sixth, but only score one run. Kyle Schwarber and Castellanos both strike out with the tying run in scoring position in the eighth and J.T. Realmuto grounds into a double play with the tying run in scoring position in the ninth.
- 7/30 @ Pittsburgh – lost 6-4 in 10 innings; A Trea Turner error helps the Pirates erase the second two-run deficit of the game, allowing the game to slink into extra innings. Harper is thrown out at the plate, again, as the Phillies fail to score in the top of the 10th before Andrew Vasquez coughs up a walk-off homer in the bottom of the 10th.
- 8/2 @ Miami – lost 9-8 in 12 innings; Phillies blow a 5-0 lead, mostly because of the bullpen, but more memorably, this was the game where the Turner “error” (it was ruled a single but come on) allowed the Marlins to tie it in the 11th and ultimately win it in the 12th.
- 8/4 vs. Kansas City – lost 7-5; Nola coughs up two more leads; Brandon Marsh has a couple misadventures in left field, and Kyle Schwarber strikes out with the tying run in scoring position in the sixth.
- 8/8 vs. Washington – lost 5-4; In the second game of a doubleheader, Jeff Hoffman gives up a tying two-run homer to Joey Meneses in the seventh inning while Kimbrel gives up the go-ahead homer to Meneses in the ninth, as the offense, which was great through the first 14 innings of the double dip, went silent in the final four.
- 8/12 vs. Minnesota – lost 8-1; The Phillies hung around in this game until a Gregory Soto implosion in the seventh inning, but really, were never in it as they struggled against Pablo Lopez (six shutout innings, four hits, one walk, seven strikeouts).
- 8/13 vs. Minnesota – lost 3-0; The middle game of a three-game offensive drought, as the Phillies get just five hits off Sonny Gray and the Twins bullpen.
- 8/15 @ Toronto – lost 2-1; Another great Wheeler start wasted when the offense is nonexistent and Seranthony Dominguez walks two batters and then allows the game-winning run to score on a hit by pitch.
- 8/18 @ Washington – lost 8-7; In his first start after the no-hitter against the same team, Michael Lorenzen looks gassed and coughs up a 6-1 lead by allowing six runs in the bottom of the fourth. The Nats rally is ignited by a rare error by Rojas in centerfield. Turner strikes out with the bases loaded in the top of the seventh.
- 8/20 @ Washington – lost 4-3; Wheeler gives up a hit to the first five batters of the game, yielding four runs, before the Nats are shut down to no runs and just four hits over the next eight innings. Meanwhile, the Phillies bats are lethargic until they attempt a rally in the ninth, but come up one run short.
- 8/23 vs. San Francisco – lost 8-6 in 10 innings; Despite a dramatic comeback on a game-tying, three-run homer by Harper in the bottom of the ninth, Realmuto strikes out with the winning run 90-feet away, followed by a Kimbrel meltdown in the 10th with a walk, a hit by pitch and a single allowing three runs to score.
- 8/30 vs. Los Angeles Angels – lost 10-8; In a see-saw game, the Phillies erased three different deficits, the last with Harper’s dramatic 300th-career home run to put them ahead in the bottom of the eighth, only to have Kimbrel give it up in the ninth following a strikeout/wild pitch, a single, a sacrifice fly, and then a home run.
- 9/1 @ Milwaukee – lost 7-5; Another dramatic, late-inning, go-ahead homer, this one by Turner off lights-out Brewers closer Devin Williams is wiped off the board by shaky relief pitching – this time by the usually dependable Jose Alvarado – but the coup de gras that would have kept the Phillies ahead, and maybe won them the game, was an error by Bohm that allowed three runs to score.
"Oh man! The Brewers just scored three runs in such a heartbreaking Phillies way on the error by Alec Bohm!… The entire tide of this game turns on one groundball to third."- Tom McCarthy ⚾️🎙️ pic.twitter.com/efQIlix0yD
— Awful Announcing (@awfulannouncing) September 2, 2023
Now, there are a couple takeaways from that bulleted list above.
- Around those 18 losses, the Phillies have won 23 games. And if you don’t think 23-18 is a good record, expand that out over a full season, and it’s a record of 91-71.
- Of the 18 losses, 15 of them were by either one or two runs, and in the moment, were losses that a lot of people thought should be wins.
Think about that for a second.
In the last 41 games, or basically a quarter of the season, the Phillies are 23-18 and mostly everyone thought that they could have won 15 of the 18 games they lost, mostly because they beat themselves.
That means, in that span, the Phillies only really were defeated in a game where you say, “Yeah, not their day” three times.
Three. Out of 41.
You know what that is? A sign of a very good team.
Yeah, I know, the push back is going to be, “Anthony, good teams don’t lose those games.”
And I’ll tell you that they do.
The Braves have lost 45 times this year. Do we think that all 45 times it “just wasn’t their night?” Or the 51 losses by the Dodgers? Or the 51 for the Orioles? Or the 53 for the Rays?
You get my point.
The response to that is, of course, “OK, but the Phillies have lost 60 games, meaning they are coughing up more than those teams.”
And while that cannot be denied for the season as a whole, lets not forget the Phillies were in last place in the N.L. East going into play on June 3 with a record of 25-32. The team with the worst record in the N.L. at that time was the Colorado Rockies. They were 25-34.
Since then, the Phillies are 49-28.
Yes, they dug themselves a hole in April and May (mostly May, because April wasn’t all that bad), but since June 3, which is almost the equivalent of a half season by now, they have been nearly as good, if not better than all of those aforementioned teams:
- Braves 56-21
- Phillies 49-28
- Dodgers 48-28
- Orioles 47-30
- Rays 42-35
The Braves have been on another level for most of the season, but the one team they haven’t completely pummeled so far this season is the Phillies.
So, yes, Alvarado was the latest reliever to have a rough outing. His stuff was still there, but he was a little more wild than usual, likely from overthrowing a bit.
And yes, Bohm made a brutal error that ultimately cost them the game, but that was only his fourth error at third this season, and his .969 fielding percentage there is the highest of his career.
And, of course, the Phillies offense looked lifeless between Schwarber’s leadoff homer …
SCHWARBOMB TO GET THE PHILLIES OUT TO A EARLY 1-0 LEAD pic.twitter.com/wzgA2JCmnP
— Mismatch Philadelphia (@MismatchPhilly) September 2, 2023
… and Turner’s dramatic homer off of Williams:
Trea Turner with a 3-run homer off Devin Williams to give the Phillies a 5-3 lead over the Brewers in the 8th! ⚾️💣pic.twitter.com/gGrAgYgBWj
— The Comeback (@thecomeback) September 2, 2023
But, as we’ve seen, the offense is never out of it – even in the last three losses, late-inning heroics have given the Phillies come-from-behind leads.
Does the bullpen need to tighten up? Yes. But it’s not a blaring alarm. There are still 28 games to square that up.
And a little pressure on the Phillies to keep playing for the top wild card spot is better than them running away and hiding. Let these games matter more. It keeps them engaged. It keeps them playing meaningful baseball.
Sometimes losses like these, while they sting, aren’t as bad as they seem at first.
Because while there may not be another team in baseball who loses more close games than the Phillies, there is also no team in baseball who responds to these types of losses better than them.