ATLANTA -- Pat Neshek grasped the impossible odds long before the Phillies showed up this week at SunTrust Park.He grasps the odds now, too."It's not good," Neshek said following Friday night's 6-5 loss to the Braves. "I know the clubhouse vibe was we've got to win everything."The Phillies are on
ATLANTA -- Pat Neshek grasped the impossible odds long before the Phillies showed up this week at SunTrust Park.
He grasps the odds now, too.
"It's not good," Neshek said following Friday night's 6-5 loss to the Braves. "I know the clubhouse vibe was we've got to win everything."
The Phillies are on the brink of elimination in the National League East, falling 7 1/2 games behind the Braves with nine games to play. Atlanta's magic number is two, meaning the Braves can clinch the NL East and pop champagne bottles as early as Saturday afternoon. The Phillies' Wild Card chances are not much better. They are 6 1/2 games behind the Cardinals, whose magic number over the Phillies is three.
"We knew what we had to do when we came to Atlanta," Phillies manager Gabe Kapler said. "It's disappointing that we haven't done that so far. I'm not going to get out any pom-poms here. But certainly, we have a chance. We are going to continue to fight, understanding that we have a difficult road ahead of us."
The Phillies needed to beat the Braves on Thursday and Friday. They did not. They had opportunities both nights. They had a three-run lead in the seventh inning Friday, but Neshek and Luis Avilan allowed five runs in the bottom of the seventh to hand Atlanta a 6-4 lead.
Neshek entered the game with a 1.16 ERA in 28 appearances this season. But he allowed a leadoff single to Tyler Flowers, and Ozzie Albies then hit a first-pitch sinker to right field for a two-run home run to cut the Phillies' lead to 4-3.
"I think 90 percent of the guys in the league would have hit that one out," Neshek said about the pitch down the middle of the plate. "Nothing against him. He did a good job to hit the ball, but it was served on the platter."
Neshek then walked Dansby Swanson on five pitches. He disagreed with at least two calls from home-plate umpire Gerry Davis in the at-bat.
"That really [screwed] me up," Neshek said. "I looked on Brooks Baseball, and they were strikes. Yeah, that changed the game."
Pinch-hitter Lucas Duda followed with a single to left to put runners at the corners. That surprised Neshek, too.
"I get the ground ball, I think it might be a double play, there's nobody there," he said. "Shift, I didn't even know we had a shift. So that was different. Then I get [Ronald Acuna Jr.], and then I'm out. So I mean, I felt great. It's just … a lot of weird [stuff], man. I don't know what else to say."
Avilan entered. Two batters later Ender Inciarte ripped a double to score a run and tie the game. Johan Camargo later singled to score two runs and make it 6-4.
The Phillies scored a run in the ninth, but the game ended with Davis ringing up Roman Quinn on a called third strike. Quinn thought the pitch was a ball. He got frustrated. He got animated. He argued.
Kapler hopped out of the dugout and confronted Davis in a brief, but heated exchange.
"I saw it as an emotional, young player who was very competitive in the moment and was having his say," Kapler said. "I think in that particular instance I was upset because I thought it was the right time for Gerry to not be back in his face. My message was to protect my player because I think that's the job of the official there, to stay composed."
It was a frustrating end to another disappointing loss. The odds say there is more disappointment to come.
MOMENT THAT MATTERED
Phillies right-hander Nick Pivetta allowed one run in five innings before J.P. Crawford pinch-hit for him to start the sixth. Crawford tripled, but did not score. Pivetta struck out four and walked one. He has a 3.47 ERA in his last five starts, although he has not pitched more than five innings in any of them.
"You know, the way that the game has been going and the way that Gabe has been coaching, at the end of the day the most I can do is just go as long as I can," Pivetta said about not facing the order a third time. "It's up to him when he takes us out. I'm always prepared. I'm always good to go a third time, fourth time through the order. But we need to score runs. It just comes down to this being like playoff baseball. It's just how the game is going and how it's going to be managed."
Neshek had allowed only three earned runs all season until he allowed four in the seventh. It was the first time since July 1, 2017, that he allowed more than two runs in an appearance.
"I mean, I left, I got a hold actually. I don't know how I got a hold, but it was 4-3," Neshek said. "You'd like to try to stay in and try to do it yourself. It didn't happen. Like I said, everything … I got [dumped] on. Everything kind of just didn't work out for me."
YOU GOTTA SEE THIS
Carlos Santana has been playing out of position at third base lately as the Phillies search for offense, but he made a highlight-reel play to end the fifth inning. Inciarte hit a ball to the left of the pitcher's mound. Santana charged the ball, picked it up barehanded and threw out Inciarte.
HE SAID IT
"We're not done. We don't want to be done. We love playing this game." -- Pivetta
MITEL REPLAY OF THE DAY
Quinn appeared to steal third base in the third inning, but the Braves challenged the play. Replay showed that Quinn's body came off the bag for a split second, while Braves third baseman Camargo held the glove on Quinn, who was called out.
Phillies right-hander Jacob Arrieta (10-9, 3.77 ERA) faces Braves right-hander Mike Foltynewicz (11-10, 2.90 ERA) on Saturday afternoon in the third game of a four-game series at SunTrust Park at 1:05 ET. Arrieta is 1-3 with a 6.03 ERA in seven starts since pitching eight scoreless innings against the D-backs on Aug. 3.
Todd Zolecki has covered the Phillies since 2003, and for MLB.com since 2009. Follow him on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.