The Phillies’ postseason drought has reached a decade. I was three years old a decade ago.
Six months after opening the season with a three-game sweep of the Atlanta Braves, the Phillies found themselves on the wrong end of a three-game sweep to the very same club Thursday night. The Phillies’ 5-3 loss in Atlanta eliminated them from postseason contention as the Braves clinched their fourth straight NL East title.
The Phillies have three games remaining, all in Miami against the Marlins, before heading home for the winter for the 10th straight year without a postseason appearance.
Only the Seattle Mariners, who last made the playoffs in 2001, have gone longer without making the postseason and they remain alive in the AL wild-card race.
At 81-78, the Phillies need at least one win to have their first winning season since 2011. The way this team is limping to the finish line, one has to wonder if they’ll even get that single win.
The Phillies did not swing the bats well in Atlanta, at all. They entered the series on the heels of being shut out by Pittsburgh in their final home game last Sunday, then scored just six runs in the three games in Atlanta. Two of those runs were unearned.
The Phillies headed to Atlanta trailing the Braves by 2.5 games. Yes, the odds were against the Phils, but they weren’t impossible. The Phils basically needed to sweep the Braves — just like they did back in April to open the season — to stay alive and put the pressure on Atlanta heading into the final week of the season.
Instead, it was the Phillies who were swept.
With the exception of a couple of late homers by Andrew McCutchen and J.T. Realmuto in Thursday night’s game, the bats barely put up a fight.
The Phils had just 13 hits in the three games.
MVP candidate Bryce Harper went 0-for-11 with five strikeouts in the series. Jean Segura went 1-for-12. Realmuto went 1-for-12.
Not enough, at all.
Zack Wheeler and Aaron Nola delivered quality starts in the first two games of the series, but Charlie Morton and Max Fried were both better in leading the Braves to wins of 2-1 and 7-2.
On Thursday night, Kyle Gibson was tagged for five runs in 4 1/3 innings. He gave up four hits, solo homers by Jorge Soler and Austin Riley, an RBI double by Dansby Swanson, and an RBI triple by Ozzie Albies.
Braves right-hander Ian Anderson made it three straight strong starts for the Braves. He held the Phillies scoreless over the first six innings before allowing a two-run homer to McCutchen in the seventh. Realmuto homered against reliever Luke Jackson with two outs in the eighth to make it a two-run game.
The Phils did not get any closer.
There is only darkness, again.