A season that seemed to be coming to an end with the Phillies’ return to the World Series came to a shocking end Tuesday in Game 7 of the NLCS after the Arizona Diamondbacks came to Citizens Bank Park and won on two consecutive nights in a stadium The room the guests were in was overwhelmed throughout the month.
It was a result few expected after the Phillies took 2-0, 3-2 leads. They were heavily favored to beat the D-Backs, who won just 84 games to sneak into the playoffs as the final wild card team. Just like the 2022 Phillies, Arizona won three straight rounds without home-field advantage and advanced to the World Series.
This will go down as one of the greatest collapses in Phillies history. The series appeared to be secured after the Phils’ 10-run win in Game 2. They led by one run in the bottom of the seventh inning of Game 3, which they lost by walk-off. They led by two runs in the bottom of the eighth inning of Game 4 before Craig Kimbrel imploded.
Game 7 was close from start to finish, but the Diamondbacks were able to answer as soon as the Phillies took their lead, scoring twice early in the fifth period. The leadoff run came from Corbin Carroll, who singled for the third time and stole second base of the night. Gabriel Moreno followed with a soft single to right field and the Phillies were never able to tie the game again, losing 4-2.
Even when the Phillies took their one-run lead in the fourth, they left the bases loaded with plenty of strikeouts from Johan Rojas to end a weak outing. It was a big point in the game and it could have called for a pinch hitter. If Rob Thomson had used Jake Cave, the Diamondbacks would have countered with left-hander Joe Mantiply and forced the Phils to counter again with Cristian Pache. A similar situation arose in the seventh inning of Game 6, and Thomson allowed Rojas to strike out himself. He said Tuesday afternoon that he would have gone the Cave-Pache route for Rojas’ final at-bat in Game 6, but not before, so that was likely his consideration in Game 7. Pache ultimately pinch-hit in the seventh inning and walked .
The Phillies missed too many chances. They had Brandon Marsh at second base with one out and the top of the order should be at third base. Kyle Schwarber struck out and Trea Turner went down.
They had the bases loaded in the fourth after the D-backs rounded Marsh to get to Rojas.
They failed in the fifth on Schwarber’s leadoff double.
They had runners on first and second with Turner missing one in the seventh, but he was overly aggressive for the second straight game, starting the at-bat with two swings on low-and-away sliders. Both Turner and Bryce Harper flied out to center to end the inning. They were 0-8 and 4-35 overall in their last five NLCS games. Nick Castellanos went 0-for-23 with 11 strikeouts after hitting a home run in his first at-bat in Game 1.
The Phillies didn’t have a hit in their final 17 plate appearances of the night. The offensive peaked a little too early.
When the typically overpowering Jose Alvarado entered in the seventh and uncharacteristically allowed three hard-hit balls in a row for a single, double and sacrifice fly to cover the D-backs, you could tell it wasn’t the Phillies’ night . Or their year.
The Phils felt all season that they had a good chance of returning to the World Series, which they led 2-1 last October before losing in six games. They knew they had the talent, they had three starters they could trust and a bullpen full of speed and quality secondary pitching.
They posted a 65-40 record in the final 105 games of the regular season. They dominated the Marlins in a wild card round. They won three of four games and shocked the Braves. They outscored the Diamondbacks significantly in the first two NLCS games, hitting six home runs off Arizona’s top two pitchers, Zac Gallen and Merrill Kelly.
Then everything collapsed. Phillies fans still have nightmares from 1964, 1977, 1993 and 2011. Add another to the list.
The franchise has been around for 141 seasons and has only two World Series trophies to show for it, in 1980 and 2008. This particular club, filled with highly paid veterans in the prime of their careers who have been successful for much of the last two Octobers, had the look , until it wasn’t anymore.
This was a series they should have won, a series that could have ended before they even returned to Philadelphia for Games 6 and 7.
Now another generation of Phillies fans knows what it feels like.