Feast-or-famine offense falters in Phillies' NLCS loss

After historic run of production early in postseason, bats hit .179 in 4 losses to D-backs

October 25th, 2023

PHILADELPHIA -- When the Phillies' bats were hot this season, a World Series run almost seemed inevitable. But when they were cold, just qualifying for the postseason seemed like a battle.

True to form, the Phils spent time at both ends of that vast spectrum in their National League Championship Series against the D-backs.

After making home run history while racing out to a two-game series lead, Philadelphia's offense went quiet over the final five games. It fully bottomed out in a season-ending 4-2 loss in Game 7 on Tuesday night at Citizens Bank Park.

Nick Castellanos went 0-for-23 to finish the series. Bryce Harper went 2-for-16 over the final five games, including 0-for-12 in Philadelphia’s four losses. Trea Turner was 2-for-19 (.105) with zero extra-base hits and only one walk from Game 3 onward.

"We just didn't capitalize on opportunities from all standpoints," said Turner, who went 0-for-7 with runners in scoring position in the NLCS, including 0-for-3 in Game 7. "We definitely had our opportunities. We just got beat."

The best chance for both Turner and the Phillies came in the seventh inning, when he stepped to the plate with runners on first and second and only one out. He chased a pair of pitches well off the plate before flying out on an 0-2 pitch.

Harper then stepped in and jumped on a 2-1 fastball that right-handed reliever Kevin Ginkel left over the middle of the plate.

“He threw me the pitch I wanted,” Harper said.

The ball jumped off Harper’s bat at an exit velocity of 107.6 mph, per Statcast. But with a towering launch angle of 44 degrees, it was nothing more than a routine inning-ending flyout.

"Man, just not being able to come through in that moment just devastates me personally," Harper said. "I feel like I let my team down and let the city of Philadelphia down as well. That’s a moment I feel like I need to come through."

Just how close was Harper to "Bedlam at the Bank: Part II"?

"I mean, [107 mph] at 44 [degrees]," Harper said. "So he beat my barrel by a tenth of a second, probably."

That was far from the Phillies' only chance. Kyle Schwarber had a leadoff double in the fifth, but never advanced beyond second base. One inning earlier, Castellanos struck out with runners on the corners for the second out. After Brandon Marsh walked, Johan Rojas struck out to strand the bases loaded.

"I had a terrible at-bat," Castellanos said. "Me wanting too much to get the runner in instead of just seeing what the pitcher was going to give me first. And that's on me."

Castellanos closed the NL Division Series by becoming the first player in MLB history with consecutive multihomer games. He homered in Game 1 of the NLCS to join Yankees legend Reggie Jackson (1977) as the only players with five homers in a three-game span in the postseason.

But from that homer onward, Castellanos went 0-for-23 with 11 strikeouts.

"It's terrible, man," Castellanos said. "It's a terrible feeling to just feel like you're locked in and be in a zone like that, then have it just fade away at the wrong time."

Added manager Rob Thomson: "That's Nick. Sometimes from day to day, he might strike out three times one day and hit two home runs the next. ... But he carried us there for a bit. He's a really good hitter, and I'm glad he's on our side."

But it wasn't just Castellanos, Turner or Harper.

As a team, Philadelphia went 4-for-28 (.143) with one extra-base hit (a double) with runners in scoring position in its four losses. The Phils were 1-for-10 in those spots in their season-ending loss.

"We had some opportunities," Thomson said. "1-for-10 with runners in scoring position. But that's baseball. That stuff comes and goes."

It certainly did against Arizona.

In the Phillies' three wins against the D-backs, they hit .300 and scored 24 runs (eight per game) with 12 homers and a 1.009 OPS.

In the four losses, they hit .179 while scoring nine runs (2.3 per game). The Phillies hit only two homers and posted a .559 team OPS in those contests.

“You always want to have the opportunity,” Harper said. “I think a lot of these guys on this team have had those moments, have had those opportunities.

“ … We’ve been in those moments and just didn’t get it done.”