Phillies’ Ninth-Inning Choke Is Just The Latest, Biggest Indignity

Phillies fans came into the 2022 season with a bit of optimism. The team had signed sluggers Kyle Schwarber and Nick Castellanos, and while those two will never be described as “fielders Kyle Schwarber and Nick Castellanos,” that was a lot of new firepower. Articles gushed: The Phillies had the highest payroll in team history. The defense was going to be bad, sure, but the hitting looked extremely promising. The starting rotation was ranked as high as third-best in the majors. The bullpen, at the very least, surely couldn’t be as bad as last season, especially after the team spent on adding some veteran depth to the back end of it. Also the real Phillie Phanatic was back.

As it often does with this team, that optimism lasted only a couple of games. The Phillies beat up on the A’s in their opening series. Great. Then they lost 7 of 8 after a 3-1 start. A sweep of the Rockies got them back to 10-10. They have gone 1-5 since, including a game in which five Mets pitchers didn’t hit them.

Thursday night’s loss, though, was even more embarrassing. The Phillies took a 7-1 lead into the top of the ninth inning, then gave up 7 runs and lost. The previous 330 games the Mets trailed by six or more going into the ninth, they’d lost. The last time they completed a comeback like this was in 1997; Bernard Gilkey was prominently involved. It was so long ago that the last time the Mets had a comeback like this, they did it against the Expos. The Mets are now 19-9, already seven games up on the Phillies in the division. And, geez. Look how excited the Mets were.

Disgusting.

Last night’s collapse was not the only issue with the Phillies this year. Bryce Harper has a right arm injury and hasn’t played the field since April 16. Schwarber is hitting .195. Alec Bohm has been solid at the plate but an adventure in the field. The bullpen once again has not been great. Last night Nick Castellanos, who a day before had a go-ahead homer overturned, was hit by a pitch and removed from the game in the sixth inning. (X-rays were negative.) Castellanos summed up the whole Phillies season after the game: “There’s no way around it. It sucks. Baseball sometimes sucks. Tonight sucked.”

Tonight, though, won’t suck, at least not in that way: The Phillies-Mets game has been called off due to rain.

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