It was supposed to be a purge. The Phillies should be back in Philadelphia resting now.
After an offensive onslaught and a 15-3 win against the seemingly overpowering Diamondbacks team in Philadelphia, the series was tied at 2-2 and the Phillies appeared to be in trouble.
The team failed in back-to-back games in the desert by just one goal, each of which was of the “we blew it” variety. Before they try to regain control in Game 5, let’s play the fifth major sport in Philadelphia – the blame game.
Who is to blame for this?
The managing director
Rob Thomson is known as an aggressive, confident manager who would rather roll the dice and get it wrong than regret not taking action. However, he has taken some costly risks in the last two games.
• We start with his refusal to change his batting order. Bryson Stott continues to struggle and Nick Castellanos on the 7 hole has cooled off significantly. The offense sputtered in Game 3 and didn’t do enough in Game 4. And yet he didn’t move a single player. Maybe it’s time?
• In Game 3, he played rookie Orion Kerkering in the seventh inning rather than one of his many seasoned postseason veterans. The Flamethrower gave up one run – that was their lead in the game, and the Phils lost by the same margin. It was a bad decision and might have given the normally precise player a small taste of overconfidence.
• In Game 4, he plowed through eight different pitches in a bullpen game. Does it overwhelm the pen?
The Phillies manager pressed Craig Kimbrel for the second straight game Friday after he made a botched save the night before, and the result was the same. Thomson is eligible for the decision – Kimbrel’s track record earned him the right to pitch again in Game 4.
Kimbrel blew two saves and looked shaky in each appearance. Jose Alvarado had a hard time cleaning up after him in Game 4, but he allowed the game-winning run to Arizona that tied the series. The Phillies breezed through the first two rounds of the postseason and the first two games of the NLCS. The high-leverage spots are turning into disasters and the pen needs to recover if the Phillies hope to save the series.
In Philly, the Phillies had 20 hits and the Diamondbacks had eight. In Games 3 and 4 in Phoenix, the Phillies had 11 hits and the Diamondbacks 18. Philly only scored six runs after scoring 15 points. Home run churn has also unsurprisingly cooled. Philly hit 19 home runs before Game 3 and has only hit one since. By the way, her last 14 home runs were all solo shots.
Philadelphia was also just 2 of 7 after going 7-17 with away runners in the scoring position. Note the difference in success rate (29% to 42%) and overall odds in the home and away split. The Phils are essentially a different team heading into the postseason and have gone 1-5 in their last six attempts. If they drop Game 5, can they be trusted to automatically do well again in Philly?
Excluding the team’s victory in Game 162 in New York to close out the regular season – a game played primarily by replacement players – the Phillies have not won a significant road game since September 20 in Atlanta. That’s more than a month.
Ironically, should Houston face the Rangers in the ALCS this weekend, it’s possible they’ll have home field advantage in a potential World Series game against the Astros. That means the Phillies could theoretically just win at home over the next two weeks and still win the Commissioner’s Trophy.
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