Lopsided loss pushes skid to 5, but math still on Phils' side

September 21st, 2022

PHILADELPHIA -- Remarkably, perhaps surprisingly, the math remains in the Phillies’ favor.

They still have a lead.

It was the only thing to really say following Tuesday night’s 18-11 loss to the Blue Jays at Citizens Bank Park. The Phillies have lost five consecutive games to sow doubt into their postseason aspirations with 15 games to play, especially after opening their final homestand of the season with some of their most disappointing play in months. The Phils made things interesting a couple of times with ’s NL-leading 40th homer and ’s 5-for-5 night, but they need to make things more than just interesting.

They need to win.

“There’s no good time for it,” Phillies right-hander said about the losing streak, “but when you have 15 games left … we’re going to end the night in a playoff spot. Schwarbs said it after the game, ‘You’ve got to stay in the fight, show up tomorrow and go win a ballgame.’ We still are in the driver’s seat. It depends on how we do. It doesn’t depend on how anybody else does.”

Yes, even with five consecutive losses, the Phillies remain in a strong position to make the postseason for the first time since 2011. That’s because they have a 2 1/2-game lead over the Brewers for the third and final NL Wild Card spot.

Essentially, it is a 3 1/2-game lead because Philadelphia owns a tiebreaker over Milwaukee. If the Phillies (80-67) and Brewers (78-70) finish the season with the same record, the Phillies make the postseason. The Brewers go home.

If the Phillies go 8-7 (.533) to finish 88-74, the Brewers would need to go 11-3 (.786) to finish 89-73.

If the Phillies go just 7-8 (.467) to finish 87-75, the Brewers would need to finish 10-4 (.714).

In other words, the Phillies still have an excellent chance to make the postseason, unless they go full 2007 Mets.

But they will need to play better than they played Tuesday. ’s throwing error two batters into the game struck a cameraman in the first-base camera well. It set the tone for the pitching and defense.

Three batters later, Matt Chapman hit a three-run homer to left field against Gibson to make it 3-0. Schwarber lost a ball in the sky to start the second, then the Blue Jays scored twice to make it 5-0. Center fielder jammed his left knee into the left-center-field wall trying to make a catch in the third. A run scored to make it 6-0.

Marsh left the game in the fourth because of a bruised left knee.

Gibson allowed seven runs on 12 hits and one walk in five innings. They were the most hits allowed by a Phillies starter since Aaron Harang allowed 12 in 5 1/3 innings on Aug. 10, 2015, in Arizona. Gibson also has a 9.68 ERA (19 earned runs in 17 2/3 innings) in four starts this month.

Thomson said Gibson will continue to start.

“He’s been hot and cold,” Thomson said.

The Phillies scored four in the fifth to cut Toronto’s lead to 7-5, but the inning ended when got doubled up at second on a line-drive to center field. Poor defense in the sixth allowed Toronto to score another run. The Blue Jays scored two more in the seventh, including one on a wild pitch from Connor Brogdon.

“I chalk it up as one of those days,” Thomson said.

The Phillies’ offense had been scuffling for the past week. At least it thinks it found something Tuesday.

"The first five hitters over there -- and they're missing [Nick] Castellanos -- is probably as good of a lineup as there is in baseball,” Blue Jays pitcher Ross Stripling said.

For that reason and more, the Phillies say they are not panicking. They have collapsed each of the previous four Septembers, but they reiterated this team is different.

“It’s the group of guys that we have,” Harper said. “You go through some lulls in the season. This isn’t the greatest spot. But at the same time, we know who we are, we know what type of team we are. We know we’re capable of going out there and playing against great teams.”

The Phillies turn to on Wednesday. He has not pitched in a game since Aug. 20 because of tendinitis in his right forearm. He will be limited, probably to only two or three innings. But maybe he can help the Phillies do what they have not done since last Wednesday in Miami.

Maybe he can help them win.