For Phillies fans, it was a movie they’ve seen far too many times before.
Zack Wheeler delivered a great start. The offense pounded out 8 runs on 12 hits. But the bullpen fell apart, resulting in an excruciating walk-off loss to a division rival.
It didn’t have to end this way.
Phillies Lose to Marlins
The first half of Wednesday’s game against the Marlins went swimmingly. Wheeler was dealing, and Philly’s offense gave him a five-run lead heading into the bottom of the sixth. According to Phillies beat writer Matt Gelb, it was the team’s first five-run lead in 18 days.
Sure enough, that’s exactly when things started to go south for Philadelphia. Wheeler got dinged for two runs in the bottom of the frame, cutting the lead to three. That still should’ve been enough for Philly’s bullpen with nine outs to go.
It wasn’t. The Marlins added two more runs in the eighth, then tied the game in the bottom of the ninth to force extra innings. Rob Thomson tried to use Gregory Soto to close the game out in the ninth and save Craig Kimbrel, but the move backfired and he had to use Kimbrel anyways in the 10th.
Kimbrel wasn’t any better, blowing a two-run lead of his own. Dylan Covey replaced Kimbrel and ultimately lost the game in the 12th, putting Philly fans out of their misery.
The Phillies simply couldn’t stop the bleeding, allowing at least one run in six of the final seven innings. A big reason why is their lack of shutdown relievers who can extinguish rallies. Philly’s bullpen ranks 22nd in average fastball velocity, indicating a lack of power arms. The unit’s 1.30 WHIP isn’t great, either, and leads to trouble with so much traffic on the bases.
Three different Philadelphia relievers blew a save in this game, which is simply unacceptable, especially against a mediocre offense like Miami’s. We can’t afford meltdowns like this if we want to make it back to the World Series.