Schwarber starts late rally, but Phils can't get it done

June 29th, 2022

PHILADELPHIA -- It's easy to say the Phillies could have used Bryce Harper on Tuesday night at Citizens Bank Park.

There are going to be many games like that in the coming weeks.

“I feel like you miss Bryce every night,” Phillies interim manager Rob Thomson said following a 5-3 loss to the Braves. “But we’ve got to get it done.”

The Phillies created boatloads of scoring opportunities against Braves right-hander Charlie Morton, who was in trouble multiple times throughout his 5 2/3 innings. But they repeatedly let him get away with it. The Phils were 0-for-9 with runners in scoring position against Morton and 1-for-10 overall.

“Could we have scored? Definitely,” said , who hit a game-tying homer in the seventh. “There’s a screwed up play, right? No one can see or hear the out call. We all wish that we would’ve come through every single time, but it’s the nature of the game and also the nature of our lineup. We feel if we don’t get it done, we’ve got trust in the guy behind us.”

Schwarber and Rhys Hoskins started the first inning with a walk and a single. They scored one run. They each walked to start the third. Braves right fielder Adam Duvall made a diving catch on Nick Castellanos’ line drive. There was a late out call, which caused confusion on the bases. Schwarber tagged second and reached third, but Hoskins stopped at one point and walked back to first.

Duvall threw the ball to second baseman Orlando Arcia, who tagged second, then tagged Hoskins.

For a moment, it looked like a triple play. The Braves assembled around Schwarber at third base while the play was reviewed.

He shooed them back onto the field at one point.

“It was a tag play, I was a little confused,” Schwarber said. “I was like, ‘What’s going on? Why are they calling a triple play?’ I was like, ‘Whoa, easy.’ They were all saying it’s still a triple play. No, it’s not. They were like, ‘Uh, yeah, why not?’”

The Phillies had runners on second and third with two outs while down a run in the sixth. Braves manager Brian Snitker called left-hander Dylan Lee in from the bullpen to face Mickey Moniak, who was hitless with nine strikeouts in 14 career at-bats against lefties, including 0-for-4 with two strikeouts this season. Moniak, however, hit .250 with a .766 OPS in 27 plate appearances against lefties with Triple-A Lehigh Valley. He also was 4-for-8 in his Minor League career against Lee.

But Lee had held left-handed hitters to a .160 (4-for-25) batting average with no extra-base hits, no walks and seven strikeouts this year.

“I can’t remember what year, but I do remember facing him, a lefty, straight fastball-slider,” Moniak said. “I don’t know exactly what kind of hits they were, but I definitely felt comfortable against him.”

Moniak got underneath an 0-2 fastball. He hit the ball hard at 96.9 mph, but straight into the air. He flied out to center to end the inning.

“Unfortunately, I just missed a fastball that I probably should have hit,” Moniak said. “But that’s just baseball. I definitely felt comfortable. I just clipped it, just a little bit out in front. Let that pitch travel another two inches and it’s over the fence.”

Moniak replaced Harper on the roster on Sunday in San Diego. Thomson said then that he planned to give Moniak an opportunity to play and prove himself.

“I think you have to,” he repeated Tuesday.

Moniak batted .313 with a .957 OPS in 11 games with Lehigh Valley before he got recalled. He could be back in the lineup on Wednesday against Braves right-hander Kyle Wright and again Thursday against righty Ian Anderson.

Moniak is 4-for-28 this season. He will need to produce at some point, but that goes for everybody while Harper is out. It holds especially true this week. This is a six-game homestand against the Braves and Cardinals. Atlanta is the second NL Wild Card team, while St. Louis is the third.

The Phillies are three behind the Cards.

“We’ve had a good month so far and we want to finish it strong,” Schwarber said.