The self-destructive Phillies lose again to Gabe Kapler’s Giants

Thomson, Schwarber keep calm outfield as Phillies road trip worsens originally appeared on NBC Sports Philadelphia

SAN FRANCISCO — An already troubling road trip took a turn for the worse Saturday when the Phillies fell all over the place and lost, 5-4, to the San Francisco Giants at 24 Willie Mays Plaza.

The loss was the Phillies’ second straight against a Giants team that was on a seven-game losing streak and 11 of 13.

Before San Francisco, the Phils lost two of three in Arizona. He is 1-5 in his last six and 0-2 in September.

Sure, you’ve heard that recent Septembers have been a problem for the Phils. They haven’t had a winning September since 2017, and a poor one this year could kill their chances of making the postseason for the first time since 2011.

Rob Thomson, the Canadian-born Phillies skipper, spent four years on the coaching staff before succeeding Joe Girardi in June. He knows all about that poor September and he thinks this one will be different.


“Different players,” he said after Saturday’s loss. “We have six or seven different position players from last year and a bunch of different bullpens. And, I’ve said all along, we have a good bullpen and once we get Seranthony Dominguez back, it’s going to be even better.

“The Toronto Maple Leafs had the same thing. They can’t get out of the first round. Well, they couldn’t get out of the first round for 15 years. Well, they’re not the same team. I just don’t believe in all that. I think you have to fight and win and you can’t listen to all that.”

Ohio-born Phillies shortstop Kyle Schwarber also struck a calm tone after the game.

“The ebbs and flows of baseball are real and you’re going to have stretches where you go through things like this, and as a team, we’ve got to make it as short as possible,” Schwarber said. “Our job right now is to shorten what’s going on right now.

“It’s disappointing, sure, but it’s also exciting because we’re still in a good position. Don’t get me wrong, it’s disappointing, but it’s still in our hands right now.”

Schwarber is right. The Phillies left the field three games ahead of Milwaukee for the final wild card spot with 29 games to play. They also hold a tiebreaker over the Brewers.

But that doesn’t eliminate the need for wins and the need to play a cleaner ball. The Phillies played sloppy defense on this trip, the walks piled up and the starting pitchers didn’t go deep enough into the games.

Saturday’s defeat embodied all of the above. The Phils put the game away. They played poor defense and gave the Giants a run in the first inning. In the sixth inning, they gave San Francisco five outs and the Giants broke a 4-4 tie in that frame.

In that sixth inning, Schwarber misplayed a tight ball to the wall in left to double the lead, and the Giants finally scored on a bases-loaded walk by Brad Hand. Hand walked three batters in the frame, but could have gotten out of the inning unscathed if second baseman Jean Segura had tried to turn a double play instead of throwing home to cut in a run.

Five games into the trip, Phillies pitchers drew six walks and hit a batter with the bases loaded.

Think about that for a second.

“We’re just going through a stretch right now,” Thomson said. “We have to fight our way out of this.”

The pitching and defense weren’t the only ones to blame for Saturday’s loss. The Phillies missed a leadoff single in the first inning. They opened the fifth with a double and a single and got nothing. In the seventh, they squandered a Schwarber triple. They got the first two runners on base in the eighth and got nothing.

Giants manager Gabe Kapler pulled all the right numbers with his deployment of right-handed pinch hitters against Hand in the sixth and his bullpen calls.

The Giants bullpen got some huge outs. Scott Alexander got Bryce Harper to pop into a double play to end the top of the fifth. Jarlin Garcia struck out JT Realmuto on three pitches to end the top of the seventh with runners on the corners. Camilo Doval homered off Matt Vierling with the tying run at third to end the top of the eighth.

The Phillies ended up leaving eight men on base and were just 3 for 15 with runners in scoring position.

Phillies starting pitcher Noah Syndergaard lasted just 4⅓ innings and gave up four runs. He cost himself a run on a throwing error in the first inning.

In the Phillies’ four losses on that trip, starting pitching lasted just 3⅔ innings, 4 innings, 1⅔ innings and 4⅓ innings. Not good. The club misses Zack Wheeler. Bailey Falter, Wheeler’s replacement, is the only pitcher to get through six innings on the trip. He did it in Wednesday night’s 18-2 win at Arizona.

Ranger Suarez will take the ball Sunday against Carlos Rondon. It’s a tough assignment for the Phils, but they need a win. This month. Badly.

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