On Friday the Phillies came limping into Washington DC on the heels of being swept by the New York Mets and splitting 4 with the Atlanta Braves. At stake for Phillie’s redemption on this season-long and season-defining 10-game road trip. At stake for the Nationals is an opportunity to rise out of the basement of the NL East. Let the battle for last place in the NL East begin.
Game one of this three-game series saw the Phillies turn to the ace Zach Wheeler. Wheeler on his last time out dialed up vintage Zach Wheeler. He lasted eight strong innings and was everything the ace should be. For the Nationals they sent out Josiah Gray, Gray has been a pleasant surprise so far this season for Washington. He came into the game with a 2.98 ERA.
Wheeler got into trouble early and often as he could not seem to locate anything consistently. He lasted just 3 and ½ innings allowing 8 hits, 7 runs all earned, 1 home run, 1 walk, and 3 strikeouts. As Washington built an early 7-0 lead. For the Phillies who entered the game in search of so many answers. Manager Rob Thompson decided to juggle the lineup putting Kyle Schwarber and his .160 batting average back in the leadoff position.
The night for the Phillies could be summed up with this. In the top of the 1st inning, the Phillies started the game with runners on first and second with no outs. They would go on to score no runs in their part of the 1st inning. Combine that with suspect outfield defense, and another runner picked off first base tells you all you need to know about the current state of the Phillies.
It was Nick Castellanos who provided the offense on this night for the Phillies. Nicky bats who have been in large part the only consistent Phillies bat thus far this season. He had himself a night on this Friday night. 4 for 5, 2 runs, 2 home runs, and 5 RBIs. Castellanos single-handedly tried to bring the Phillies back in this one. After Wheeler’s struggles the bullpen stabilized things as the Nicky bats-led Phillies made it a game.
The Phillies would tie things up at 7-7 in the top of the eighth inning, but in the bottom of the eighth Rob Thompson made another head-scratching managerial move. He turned to Conor Brogdon instead of the multiple late-inning options. The results were the same for a team who entered play six games below .500. Brogdon would get the first two outs and then surrender a walk. A stolen base later and the Nationals had the go-ahead run in scoring position. Mason Thompson would then single for the Nationals to give them the lead.
Late Innings Nothing
In the ninth, the Phillies could not generate the needed offense to tie the game. Bryce Harper would lead things off with a strikeout, he would be followed by Castellanos who would double putting the Phillies in business. But as the case so many times this season for the Phillies they could not bring in the run. Turner would fly out, and JT Realmuto would end the game with a pop-up to the first baseman. 8-7 Nationals.
Conor Brogdon would suffer the loss 2-1, and for the Nationals Kyle Finnegan would get the win 3-2. The Phillies now fall to 2-6 on this 10-game road trip and as the summer heat begins to descend on the Delaware Valley the Phillies are starting to wilt.
A bullpen game was not what the doctor ordered but it was the case for the Phillies on Saturday vs the Nationals. The Phillies entered Saturday in a last-place tie with the Nationals, a 5-game losing streak, a very desperate for anything to spark them back to life.
Matt Strahm got the nod as the Phillies went with the bullpen game; he was opposed by Mackenzie Gore of the Nationals. The Phillies got on the board first. Josh Harrison would single in Realmuto in the first, and Turner would double in Sosa in the 3rd and the Phillies were off to a 2-0 lead. But as is the case with this team in 2023 no lead is safe, and the Nationals worked their way back to a tie. Ruiz, and Abrams would claw their team back even courtesy of a 2-run 4th inning.
The Phillies’ bullpen game decision worked for them on this day. 7 pitchers combined to surrender only 2 runs, 7 hits, 4 strikeouts, and 2 walks. They kept the Phillies in this for the afternoon. In the 8th JT Realmuto, who has been one of the players in a massive slump hit his first home run in over a month this give the Phillies a 3-2 lead. Brandon Marsh would add some insurance in the 8th with a sacrifice fly.
Got A Win
The Phillies would hang on to a 4-2 win ending their 5-game losing streak, pulling out of last place in the NL East, and improving to 3-6 on this 10-game road trip. For the Nationals Gore would get the loss and for the Phillies Covey would get the win even though he was charged with Washington’s 2 runs.
All is not well for the Phillies despite the win. The lack of a 5th starter will continue to tax the bullpen, the offense showed signs of life but is far from playing to their potential, and just the attitude and lack of intensity continue to be a problem for this team. But a win is a win is a win.
The bats and the pitching were the main story for the Phillies on Sunday. The offense pounded 5 home runs and scored 11 runs. While Ranger Suarez pitched effectively and lasted 7 innings and the Phillies found themselves victorious 11-3 over the Nationals. Taking 2 of 3 from them and salvaging their 10-game road trip with a 4-6 record.
The offense was highlighted by Kyle Schwarber who hit 2 home runs and drove in 6 runs. Drew Ellis who was called up from triple-A last week also had a day. He homered twice, had 3 hits, and 3 RBIs. Ranger Suarez pitched 7 effective innings and got the win. Suarez continues to battle back from injury and his latest start has been the best indication yet that he is rounding back into form.
The Phillies now move to 27-32 as they will return home and face the Tigers.
Matt Bednarczyk is your host of Talking Philly Sports With Matty B. He is a proud retired US Army Sergeant First Class, he is also a combat veteran with over 80 months served in Afganistan, and Iraq . Huge Hockey Fan. Matt is a lifelong 4 for 4 Philly sports fan. Born and raised on the Mayfair and Tacony neighborhood lines of Northeast Philly. He brings over 40 years of Philadelphia Sports passion and provides a realistic look at our Major Sports Teams and the most passionate sports fans on the planet. Look for his show live on Edge of Philly Sports.