Sure, it ended poorly, but was this series really that bad?
No, it wasn’t.
Phillies fans pulled out their phones to make angry tweets following the series’ conclusion, which they have every right to do. But in the grand scheme of things, the good in this series outweighed the bad, as the Phillies split the four-game set with the Braves ahead of their long road trip.
When a series ends with two straight losses, one being a six-hour, eleven-inning loss on a long Sunday afternoon against the Acuna-less Braves, it would make sense for the series to feel like a failure; especially on a day when the Brewers lost against a weak team in Cincinnati and the Phillies failed to capitalize.
But when you outscore one of the best teams in baseball and split the four-game series, you must remember that it could have gone a whole lot worse.
If you’re anything like me, you might have bitten your nails down to their cuticles after the Phillies’ tight, 1-0, win on Thursday.
Ranger Suarez, the Phillies’ starter for game one, delivered six scoreless innings in his second consecutive start against the Braves. Max Fried started for Atlanta, and he continued to boost his resume for a potential end-of-season award with five quality innings for the Braves.
Matt Vierling’s second-inning sacrifice fly was the only offense the Phillies could produce off Braves’ pitching. Luckily, though, it was enough for Zach Eflin and Jose Alvarado to record the final nine outs of the Phillies’ game-one win.
Jake Odorizzi embarrassed the Phillies’ offense last week, but Rhys Hoskins and the rest of the Phillies’ starting nine made sure not to let that happen in game two of this series.
Aaron Nola struck out eight over six scoreless innings, showing that he still has some gas left in the tank.
The Phillies posted four runs off Odorizzi in the second inning thanks to RBI from Bryson Stott, Matt Vierling, and Rhys Hoskins. Two innings later, Rhys Hoskins’ second hit of the night—a two-run home run—gave the Phillies a 6-0 lead.
Alec Bohm, Brandon Marsh, and Bryce Harper knocked in the Phillies’ seventh, eighth, and ninth runs, respectively, putting the game out of the Braves’ reach.
Nick Nelson and Connor Brogdon gave the Phillies a solid last three innings to close out the victory.
Hopes were high after two strong wins to begin the four-game series, but Bailey Falter struggled and the Phillies were held hitless through the first five innings. Bryce Harper homered, but the Braves’ offense scored six runs off Falter, ending his streak of quality starts.
Kyle Wright started for Atlanta and earned his league-leading twentieth victory of the season. Kenley Jansen recorded the final three outs of the Braves’ victory, giving them a hope of splitting the series on Sunday’s matinee.
Between the actual game and the delay, it was a long and gloomy six hours and 19 minutes of baseball in South Philly. Kyle Gibson got the start for the Phillies, and his September woes continued in the Phillies’ final home game of 2022. Gibson allowed five runs on seven hits through five innings of work, but he had no help from his defense. Brandon Marsh lost a flyball in the Sun in the first inning, and what should have been an inning-ending flyout turned into two Braves runs to start the game.
The Phillies, though, came right back in their half of the first, as Kyle Schwarber led off with a solo home run, and Alec Bohm hit an RBI single to tie the game.
Jean Segura added on with an RBI fielder’s choice, and Kyle Schwarber’s second home run of the afternoon scored the Phillies’ fourth run.
But as you might expect, the Braves kept up.
The Phillies were up by one when the game went into a delay, and they were also up by one going into the bottom of the eighth.
David Robertson got two quick outs in the top of the eighth, but with a runner on third, he spiked a wild pitch that nearly hit Robbie Grossman’s back foot, allowing the tying run to trot home from third as the ball bounced around the backstop.
In extras, Andrew Bellatti left too many pitches over the heart of the plate, allowing the Braves to take a two-run lead.
The deficit was too large to overcome for the bottom of the Phillies’ lineup in the eleventh, so the Braves were able to hang on and split the series.
Sink or swim: It’s up to Kyle Schwarber
When Kyle Schwarber is hot, he is unstoppable. And when Kyle Schwarber is unstoppable, the Phillies cruise to victory thanks to their red-hot leadoff hitter.
We saw it in June when Kyle Schwarber won the NL Player of the Month and came out of nowhere to take over the National League leaderboard in home runs.
But since June came to an end, Schwarber hasn’t been the same. He hit .168 in July and launched just three long balls from the end of his rough July to the ninth of September, his longest home run drought this season.
Recently, though, he’s been better, and Schwarber gaining consistency ahead of the final ten games would be a humungous boost to the Phillies’ offense. Schwarber has a .938 OPS in his last 15 games, and hit his forty-first and forty-second home runs of the season in the final games of the series on Sunday.
These home runs came after he addressed the crowd at Citizens Bank Park for the final home game of the season, reiterating the potential reward if Phillies fans stick with the team until the very end.
Hand hits IL, Devenski recalled
His innings always seem to be shaky, but this was somewhat of a bounce-back season for the former all-star, Brad Hand. Unfortunately, that season might be coming to an end.
Ahead of Sunday’s game, the Phillies placed Hand on the 15-day injured list with left elbow tendinitis and recalled another former all-star, Chris Devenski, from triple-A. Hand’s injury was dated back to September 22, when the Phillies opened the series with a 1-0 win.
Hand allowed four runs in .1 innings on September 20—which you’d assume is when this injury developed—but has had a solid season otherwise, posting a 2.8 ERA in 45 innings.
Devenski was picked up by the Phillies towards the end of August, and he allowed just one run in 8.2 innings in Lehigh Valley, prompting his call-up.
The Phillies will wrap up their season with a road trip that begins in Wrigleyville, Chicago on Tuesday.