What went wrong during the Phillies' 4-3 loss to the Cardinals in 10 innings on Thursday afternoon? Was it a lack of offense, a decision made by manager Joe Girardi or just a case of bad luck?
Philadelphia hasn't won back-to-back games since winning four straight to start the season. In splitting this series with the Cardinals, the Phillies have not won a four-game road series since 2017.
Lack of offense
Entering Thursday, Philadelphia was 8-1 when outhitting its opponent. The 10 hits in the series finale matched the Phillies' third-highest output this season. They have dropped three of the four games in which they've collected 10 or more hits.
Offensive struggles are a common though unexpected topic for the team this year. The Phillies own a .237/.309/.382 slash line: Only the team batting average ranked above the MLB average.
Even without Harper, their slugger, the Phils were making contact. However, they were unable to translate that into runs, leaving seven on base and hitting just 2-for-9 with runners in scoring position. So far this season, Philadelphia has averaged 3.62 runners left on base, among the worst in MLB.
“Sometimes, you make reads and they're just incorrect,” Girardi said. “This game is on me. It's not on those guys. It's not on J.T. [Realmuto], it's not on Matt [Joyce], it's on me. It didn't work out.”
In the bottom of the fifth inning, Girardi made the decision to intentionally walk Cardinals shortstop Edmundo Sosa.
The skipper knew Matt Carpenter was up next for St. Louis, and that Aaron Nola was historically good against him (Nola had rung up Carpenter seven times in the past nine at-bats). In fact, Nola had faced Carpenter 19 times in his career and hadn’t allowed him a hit since 2018. In Girardi’s defense, Carpenter came in hitting just .073 on the season. But Carpenter drilled his fourth career pinch-hit homer.
"I had a feeling that if Nola was throwing the ball well, more than likely I was going to get a chance to potentially hit and take an at-bat against him,” Carpenter said. “I went into the cage, and in about the fourth inning ... I started getting on that curveball machine.
"The situation came to fruition. I was up there with [runners on] first and second with two outs, and Nola gave me a curveball and I was able to hit it. It ended up being a plan well executed."
“It wasn't really a good [pitch],” Nola said. “It got up there. If I get it down a little more, I think I get him out. But looking back, I threw a lot of curveballs that inning. He might have been sitting on it. That's harder to swallow.”
A case of bad luck
With two outs in the bottom of the fifth inning, right fielder Roman Quinn was ready for a 97.3 mph curveball off of Carpenter’s bat.
Quinn went back to the fence in right-center and made an impressive leaping effort. The ball landed in his glove and it looked like he might have robbed the Cardinals of a three-run homer.
Be it the wind, an awkward angle or just poor luck, the ball came out of Quinn's glove and fell into the Cardinals' bullpen. It gave St. Louis a 3-1 lead.
“I think [Quinn] did everything he could to catch it,” Girardi said. “I'm sure he's pressing, you know, just because of the situation that he's in, and we have to get him to relax a little bit.”