The Phillies had to win this game today. They had to win at least one Atlanta game to show that the September swoon isn’t coming.
Using a leaky bullpen to bolster a slumbering attack, the Phillies dropped another game for the Braves to go home after nearly being wiped out within a game for being out of the wild card. Luckily the Yankees were able to take a game from Milwaukee, but that’s not what we’re here for.
It was a pitching duel for a while, but it also felt somewhat inevitable that the Phillies would be pushed a bit by Spencer Strider. He’s been excellent for Atlanta this year and today, although his control wasn’t A+, he still didn’t have much of a problem with the Phillies lineup. For the opposing team, Bailey Falter continued his string of solid outings, holding the Braves scoreless for the first two innings. In the third inning, a leadoff double by Michael Harris II, followed by an one out double by Robbie Grossman gave the Braves an 1-0 lead. Falter came out of the jam but could only get 4. to go 23 innings on the day thanks to a high number of pitches and a manager with an itchy trigger finger. In the fifth, the Braves got two ups and twos out when Rob Thomson bullpened to close the door of the rally, which Andrew Bellatti did with ease and struckout Austin Riley to end the threat.
While the Phillies were still looking for a hit in the sixth inning, Strider was approaching 100 pitches, but still a lot on order. He retired the first two batters of the inning in Rhys Hoskins and Bryce Harper, but Alec Bohm resigned with two outs and delivered a tying solo homerun.
A momentum-shifting home run made it seem like Connor Brogdon came in in the bottom of the inning and looked good against Matt Olson, but the Braves just kept coming after this bullpen. William Contreras came back with one out and hit a solo homerun himself to give Atlanta a 2-1 lead.
In the seventh, Jean Segura singled to start, followed by a strikeout by Bryson Stott and a walk for pinch hitter JT Realmuto. The team threatened Tyler Matzek and Thomson pressed a pinch hitter button again by sending Matt Vierling to the lefty, but Matzek won the battle against Vierling and the subsequent battle against Kyle Schwarber to end the threat. The bottom of the inning saw the bottom half go out off of Sam Coonrod, who gave up two runs on a homerun by Robbie Grossman and an RBI-single by Riley, scoring Ronald Acuna and effectively ending the game. Both sides would get another run, the Phillies thanks to a homerun by JT Realmuto, but the game was never close.
The cheering at the bank just feels… so sad.
With their tails between their legs, the Phillies go home and have a day off before facing the Blue Jays for two games.
It doesn’t get any easier.