ATLANTA — The Phillies are one loss away from being eliminated from the National League East race after blowing a three-run lead in the seventh inning and losing, 6-5, to the Braves Friday night (see first take). The Braves can wrap up the division with a win over the Phillies Saturday afternoon.
The Phillies needed to play their best ball of the season against the Braves to stay alive in the race. They haven’t done anything close to that in the first two games of the series and frustration has set in.
You could see it in Roman Quinn’s reaction after home plate umpire Gerry Davis rung him up on a called third strike with a runner on first base to end the game.
You could see it in manager Gabe Kapler’s reaction as he rushed to Quinn’s defense (see video).
And you could hear it in reliever Pat Neshek’s voice after he allowed a single, a two-run homer to Ozzie Albies, a walk and another single en route to giving up four of the five runs that the Braves scored in the decisive bottom of the seventh inning.
“Bad pitch to Albies,” said Neshek, who had allowed just three earned runs in his previous 28 appearances this season. “I think a lot of guys in the league would hit that one out. Bad location. Bad pitch. He did a good job hitting it, but it was served on a platter.”
The Phils still had a one-run lead after the homer. Neshek walked Dansby Swanson and allowed a base hit to left to Lucas Duda.
“It’s 4-3 (after the homer) and you’re just trying to protect the game,” Neshek said. “I think Gerry Davis missed some calls to Swanson. That really [messed] me up. There were two pitches — I looked them up on Brooksbaseball.net and they were strikes. That changed the game. Then I get a ground ball and I think it might be a double play and there’s nobody there. Shift? I didn’t even know we had a shift.
“I felt great. It’s just a lot of weird [stuff], man. I don’t know what else to say. … I got [crapped] on. Everything kind of just didn’t work out for me.”
Kapler, who seldom shows anger, was not mad about Davis ringing up Quinn to end the game. Quinn barked at Davis and Davis fired back. That angered Kapler. He shot out of the dugout and briefly confronted Davis.
“I saw it as an emotional, young player who was very competitive in the moment and was having his say,” Kapler said. “In that particular instance, I was upset because I thought it was the right time for Gerry to not be back in his face. I think it's the job of the official there to stay composed. I was protecting Roman Quinn, who I thought should have his say there. It was not about the strike call by any stretch.”
Regardless of the reasons, these Phillies are frustrated. They led the NL East by 1½ games on Aug. 5 and have lost 27 of 42 since then. One more loss and they will be officially eliminated from the NL East chase.
Kapler still believes.
“We're going to get a win tomorrow,” he said. “I believe in every single one of these guys. We're not done. We don't want to be done.”