Phillies waste another thrilling late rally in loss to Brewers originally appeared on NBC Sports Philadelphia
A baseball season can’t be consumed whole. It’s too unwieldy, too extended, too unpredictable. That’s why those who play the game and those who follow along break it down into smaller, bite-sized piece with arbitrary boundaries. A series. A homestand. A road trip. A month.
The Phillies had crossed two of those invisible dividing lines by the time they showed up Milwaukee’s American Family Field on Friday night. A portion of the schedule that provided nine consecutive games (and seven wins) at Citizens Bank Park had ended while August had morphed into September.
There was no reason why the latter should have changed anything but, as various hardball philosophers have been credited with observing over the years, half this game is 90 percent mental. And especially since the Phils had an historically prolific offensive month – 59 home runs, .905 OPS, 14 comeback victories – there was naturally going to be some trepidation about whether or not they could keep it rolling.
Turns out, they couldn’t. Milwaukee 7, Philadelphia 5.
As late as the top of the eighth, when Trea Turner’s three-run homer off Brewers All-Star closer Devin Williams capped a dramatic four-run rally to give the Phillies a two-run lead, it might as well have been August 32.
In the bottom of the inning, though, the inexorable reality of the Gregorian calendar took hold. An unsteady appearance by reliever Jose Alvarado set the stage and a three-run fielding error by third baseman Alec Bohn handed the Brew Crew the win.
“I think what he did was, he just tried to run to (third base for the force out) before he secured the baseball and it just scooted underneath his glove,” Rob Thomson told reporters after the game. “He’s been playing extremely well at third base. It’s just one of those things.”
The manager said he expects Bohm to be able to shrug it off. “I think he’s matured enough now that he’s beyond that,” the manager said. “I really do. He’s upset but I don’t think it’s going to carry over.”
Brewers leftfielder Christian Yelich reached on a fielder’s choice after third baseman Andruw Monasterio greeted Alvarez with a single. Catcher William Conteras singled and first baseman Carlos Santana walked to load the bases with one out. And when Alvarez walked Sal Frelick to force in a run, Thomson had seen enough and waved Jeff Hoffman in from the bullpen.
“(Alvarado) just didn’t throw many strikes. Just couldn’t find the strike zone,” Thomson said.
Hoffman struck out shortstop Willy Adames and could have been out of the inning when Owen Miller hit a grounder to Bohm that eluded his glove and rolled into left field as three Brewers runners crossed the plate.
It was the second straight game the Phillies wasted a thrilling late rally. Against the Angels Wednesday at Citizens Bank Park, Bryce Harper’s career home run in the bottom of the eighth put the Phillies ahead, but Craig Kimbrel was unable to nail it down in the ninth.
So this loss was a real gut-punch. One batter into the game, leadoff hitter Kyle Schwarber fell behind Brew Crew starter Johnny Peralta 0-2, took two pitches out of the zone, fouled three off and then launched his 38th home run of the year deep to right.
But the Phillies got only one more hit off Peralta, a one-out single by leftfielder Jake Cave in the top of the third. Heck, they got only three more balls out of the infield while he struck out 10 in his six innings.
Phillies starter Zack Wheeler was just as dominant in the first, second, third, fifth and sixth innings. He also struck out 10 and became just the third pitcher since 1900 in franchise history to have back-to-back games with double-digit Ks and zero walks. He joins Cole Hamels (2010) and Curt Schilling (1996).
Said Wheeler: “Mechanically I’m there. My pitches are doing mostly what I want them to do. When you’re commanding the ball and stuff like that, it’s easier to strike some guys out.”
But there was that pesky bottom of the fourth when Wheeler gave up three runs on four hits, including a three-run bomb by Adames.
“He pitched great,” Thomson said. “Infield hit (by Santana). Rollover ground ball between the 3 and 4 holes (by Santana). And then he just didn’t locater a slider and Adames hit it for a home run.”
Said Wheeler: “It was a sweeper. I guess you could say it backed up. It didn’t get out to the outside corner the way I wanted it to. So he got me right there.”
Right on schedule, the Phillies came back. Once again, they couldn’t hold it.
They still lead the National League wild card standings. They still control their own destiny. There’s no need to panic. But, Toto, we’re definitely not in August anymore.
Phillies RHP Aaron Nola (12-8, 4.30) vs. Brewers RHP Colin Rea (5-5, 5.11) Saturday at 7:15.
Suarez and outfielder Cristian Pache were activated before Friday’s game as all teams are allowed to expand the roster by two players on September 1.
Source: Yahoo Sports