Since the time of the first pitch thrown during the “Pitchers and Catchers” portion of spring training, there have been three very clear and distinct messages emanating from all corners of the Phillies:

  1. Get off to a fast start
  2. Stay as healthy as possible all season
  3. World Series or bust

They passed the first checkpoint with flying colors. The last one is still well within reach. However, it’s that pesky one in the middle that is starting to become a problem.

Yes, it was frustrating to lose Trea Turner for six weeks with a hamstring injury, but the Phillies found a way through it thanks to some elevated play from Edmundo Sosa.

Yes, they got past a short IL stint for Brandon Marsh’s hamstring tweak thanks to some timely contributions from David Dahl.

And yes, they’re in the middle of traversing the loss of J.T. Realmuto to a meniscus tear getting quality catching from both Garrett Stubbs and Rafael Marchan, that has included some unexpected offense from both.

Their starting pitching had been good all year, and their depth was proven to be ideal with the debate raging for the better part of two months as to whether Taijuan Walker or Spencer Turnbull should be the No. 5 starter. They are both now on the IL. Walker’s timeline is open-ended as he deals with index finger inflammation that is preventing him from throwing his splitter, while Turnbull suffered a lat strain in his shoulder while pitching against his former team in Detroit on Wednesday and will be out for 6-8 weeks. Recently recalled Michael Mercado will be the next man up in the rotation.

But while the Phillies have been able to overcome all of that and remain at the top of the sport, record-wise. What happened in the eighth and ninth innings Thursday may be where the levee breaks, at least in part.

It started in the top of the eighth, when an error by Sosa allowed a ball to squirt into left field. Kyle Schwarber, playing just his third game in the outfield all season, and something he personally pushed for to try and help the outfield offense, felt a “grab” in his groin after bending over to pick up the ball and planting to make an awkward throw to the infield.

“I thought it was just a cramp at first and I finished the inning,” Schwarber said afterward. “But, as I was running in (between innings) I could still kind of feel it, so I talked to the trainer and he didn’t like where the spot was…so he wanted to get me out of there.”

Marsh replaced Schwarber in the field in the top of the ninth.

Schwarber received immediate treatment and spoke about it after the game. He expects to get imaging done on Friday and will know more then, but he was cautiously optimistic that it wasn’t something serious.

“Personally, I don’t think it’ll be super bad at all,” he said. “But we’ll see what happens.”

The coup de gras for the night though came on the final play of the Phillies 7-4 loss to the Miami Marlins. Bryce Harper was trying to leg out a ground ball and felt his hamstring tighten as he ran down the first base line:

Harper, who was named to his eighth All-Star team during the game as the top vote-getter in the National League, clutched at the back of his left leg and briefly fell to the ground beyond the first base bag. Even though the Phillies challenged the play, Harper didn’t wait for the result of the replay review and immediately limped down the tunnel.

“It hurts,” he said after the game. “We’re going to get an image tomorrow just to see what that looks like and see how I feel and go from there.”

Harper, who was the National League Player of the Month in May and is in the conversation for the same award in June, extended his hitting streak to 12 games with an RBI double in the first inning.

He said he has never had a soft tissue injury like this before, so he doesn’t know how concerned he should be.

“If I had something to go back on, I would let you know,” he said. “But I’ve never felt anything like this before.”

Listening to Harper talk about his injury, it sure sounded like it was going to require him to miss some time. And when you consider he’s been the best player in the national league for the last two months, it could be a crushing blow for the Phillies.

Since May 1st, here’s the production both Schwarber and Harper have provided:

Schwarber: .282/.411/.475; .886 OPS; 51 hits, 8 2B, 9 HR, 32 RBI, 38 BB

Harper: .342/.429/.647; 1.076 OPS; 64 hits, 15 2B, 14 HR, 40 RBI, 29 BB

It’s next to impossible to replace one of them from the organizational depth, never mind both at the same time.

“I feel like this team over the last couple years we’ve had to go through a lot of different things where guys have had to step up and fill in spots and did a great job,” Schwarber said. “If that’s going to be the case here, that’s why we have this depth in Triple-A and we have a really good bench here. So, if there’s time to be missed, I have all the faith in the world that these guys will keep doing their thing.”

Faith is one thing. Hope and prayer are another.

Who would replace them?

Well, Kody Clemens would certainly be one fill-in. He’s been on his rehab assignment after having back spasms himself last month and did a nice job filling in when he was with the Phillies earlier this season. That seems like a no brainer, especially as someone who can play first base.

The other option, though, may not be as clear.

Darick Hall is still on the 40-man roster and has that left-handed thump that both Schwarber and Harper provide. But Hall has been underwhelming at Triple-A this season. He’s slashed .242/.310/.353 for just a .663 OPS. He has 6 homers and 28 RBI.

There’s Weston Wilson, who was also up for a cup of coffee earlier this month. But, like Hall, he hasn’t been great at Triple-A. He has more homers (13) and RBI (46) than Hall and a better OPS (.778) but he, too, is hitting just .230.

The name that might surprise you is Buddy Kennedy. The pride of Millville, N.J. (Mike who?), was acquired in a small cash deal from the Tigers earlier this month. The versatile infielder has played 13 games at Lehigh Valley and absolutely raked. He’s slashed .380/.475/.720 for and 1.195 OPS with 4 HR and 13 RBI.

Small sample and against minor league pitching, sure, but he has big league experience, which helps.

None of these options should excite you. Taking two of your best hitters out of your lineup for any period of time is not ideal. And if Friday’s tests show what many fear, it’s also likely the Phillies will fall back to the pack somewhat.

The goal remains the same. The eyes are still on the November prize. But all the talk about record-setting seasons, a glut of All-Stars, and individual accolades went by the boards in the span of about 20 minutes.

For the Phillies. The second half of the season will be about treading water for as long as possible, and then ramping tings up for the Fall.

Because we all said injuries were the only thing that could derail this season, and the regular season train may have just jumped the track on Thursday.