Wheeler's run of dominance ends as Phillies lose 3rd straight


Beating sub-.500 teams will be critical to the Phillies’ playoff hopes this season, and you wonder if the four games they played against the Rangers will come back to haunt them. 

The Phils lost in Texas for the second straight night to close out a two-game series. They went 0-4 against the Rangers this season and have lost nine in a row to Texas since 2014.

The Phillies are 36-34 after the 4-2 loss, their third in a row. Prior to the last three against the Nationals and Rangers, the Phils had won 13 of their last 16 against teams with losing records. 

Zack Wheeler had to work extremely hard during an uncharacteristically brief outing. He threw 99 pitches over 4 1/3 innings, his shortest start since his second of the season.

With a 1.40 ERA in his previous nine starts, Wheeler might have been due for an afternoon like this. Some of the damage could have been avoided, however. Rhys Hoskins made a costly error in the second inning that put two men aboard with nobody out. Wheeler got the next two outs before Brad Miller singled in a pair. Both runs were unearned.

In the third inning, a close call forced Wheeler to throw 20 additional pitches. Jonah Heim checked his swing on a full count and may have gone around. J.T. Realmuto had Kole Calhoun trying to swipe second for what would have been an inning-ending double play. Instead, it was ruled a check swing and a walk, resulting in a longer road for Wheeler to navigate.

The Phillies scored two on Jon Gray on Kyle Schwarber’s third-inning, two-run shot, No. 19. They had a chance in the sixth inning, down two with runners on the corners and one out but Realmuto flied out to shallow right and former Phillie Matt Moore came on to strike out Didi Gregorius.

The Phillies went 0 for 12 with runners in scoring position in the series. They left 14 men on base and Nick Castellanos stranded seven himself with two more hitless games filled with weak at-bats. His season OPS is down to a stunningly low .692 and he’s posted career-worst rates of chasing pitches out of the zone, making contact within the zone and hitting line drives.

The Phils now move on to San Diego for a four-game series with the Padres, one of four teams they trail in the wild-card race.

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