At least Temple won. And, in case you missed it, Villanova is 3-0. Penn has not played yet this season, La Salle has not lost a game since 2007, and St. Joseph’s has not lost since 1939. Yes, this is one special college football town.
Ah, who are we kidding? It was a disastrous weekend for Philadelphia sports teams. The Eagles lost Sunday night in Atlanta and the Phillies lost twice to the Boston Red Sox to all but squash their faded playoff hopes.
The Phillies hit just .188 and scored four runs in their two losses to the Red Sox, whose 4.63 ERA is the worst among all winning teams in baseball. The Phillies’ frustration came to a head in the bottom of the fourth inning when Bryce Harper was ejected by home-plate umpire Gabe Morales for screaming “not even [bleeping] close” from the home dugout shortly after being called out on strikes. While defending Harper, manager Gabe Kapler also was ejected by Morales.
With 14 games left, including 11 on the road against three of the top 10 teams in baseball, the Phillies are 4 1/2 games behind the Chicago Cubs, who lead the race for the National League’s second wild-card berth. The fourth-place Phillies also trail Milwaukee by 3 1/2 games and the Mets by a half-game.
If the Cubs go 6-7 in their final 13 games, the Phillies must go 11-3 just to tie them with 87 wins.
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Phillies general manager Matt Klentak tried to get something for nothing in the days leading up to the July 31 trade deadline, and it turned into a classic case of you get what you pay for. Acquired for minor-league catcher Austin Bossart, Jason Vargas has made nine starts for the Phillies and gone 0-3 with a 5.48 ERA. The team is 3-6 in his nine starts.
Vargas, a 36-year-old lefty, pitched six innings or more and allowed two runs or fewer in two of his first three starts, but he has not had a quality start since then.
His ERA in his last six outings is 6.33, and it’s hard to imagine the Phillies wanting to sign him as a free agent once this season is over.
In fact, they’d probably be better served by giving rookie lefty Cole Irvin a few more looks as a starter before the season is over. Irvin posted a 5.60 ERA in three starts earlier this season and he had an 11.57 ERA in five relief appearances, but to his credit, it appears as if he pulled things together after being sent back to triple-A Lehigh Valley and he is finishing his season strong.
In his last seven appearances, including two starts with the IronPigs, he has a 0.89 ERA over 20 1/3 innings. In his five relief appearances since being recalled Sept. 1, the 25-year-old lefty has not allowed a run.
The Phillies’ other trade-deadline acquisition for the starting rotation was Drew Smyly. Signed as a free agent after being released by Milwaukee, he has gone a respectable 3-1 with a respectable 4.14 ERA. The Phillies are 8-2 in his 10 starts. He has been streaky, but he might be worthy of a modest contract and an invite to spring training next season.
In Klentak’s defense, the only really difference-maker dealt at the deadline was Zack Greinke, who went from Arizona to Houston. Greinke has gone 6-1 with a 3.10 ERA in eight starts for the Astros. Marcus Stroman was considered the second-best starter moved at the deadline, but he has posted a 4.50 ERA in eight starts since moving from Toronto to the Mets.
After that, the pickings were slim. The free-agent market should be better with Houston’s Gerrit Gole, San Francisco’s Madison Bumgarner, the Mets’ Zack Wheeler and the Cubs’ Cole Hamels expected to hit the market.
Bryce Harper gave the details of how and why he was ejected by home-plate umpire Gabe Morales during the Phillies’ wild-card-damaging loss to the Red Sox.
The Phillies had a point about Harper being ejected too quickly, but it did not change the fact that their season is on the brink.
The coolest story at Citizens Bank Park took place before the game Sunday when 15 people became naturalized U.S. citizens.
The Sunday Inquirer was filled with lots of good baseball stories, including Scott Lauber’s take on why Atlanta lefty Dallas Keuchel was right last week when he said general manager Matt Klentak and the rest of the Phillies’ front office should be second-guessing themselves for not upgrading the pitching staff.
Columnist Marcus Hayes pinned the blame for this lost Phillies season on GM Matt Klentak and team president Andy MacPhail.
I wrote Sunday that Phillies managing partner John Middleton should consult his core players such as Harper and J.T. Realmuto before making a decision about retaining Kapler after the season.
Third baseman Alec Bohm and pitcher Ethan Lindow were named the Phillies’ Paul Owens Award winners over the weekend. Matt Breen talked to Lindow about how he received help from Hall of Fame lefty Tom Glavine while growing up near Atlanta.
Today: The Phillies’ final off day of the season.
Tomorrow: Vince Velasquez pitches series opener in Atlanta, 7:20 p.m.
Wednesday: Zach Eflin makes second straight start vs. Braves, 7:20 p.m.
Thursday: Phils close out season series with Braves, 12:10 p.m.
Friday: Start of a three-game interleague series in Cleveland, 7:10 p.m.
On this date in 1972, a 22-year-old rookie named Michael Jack Schmidt connected for his first career home run, a shot off Montreal lefty Balor Day. The three-run homer before a crowd of 6,471 at Veterans Stadium came in the seventh inning and gave the Phillies a 3-1 win over the Expos.
Schmidt did not hit another home run that September, but he did hit 547 more in his career, placing him first both on the Phillies’ all-time list and among all big-league third basemen. Schmidt hit the last of his 548 home runs on April 23, 1989 off lefty John Smiley at Three Rivers Stadium in Pittsburgh.
Send questions by email or on Twitter @brookob.
Question: What an interesting, but frustrating season. The positives of signing Harper and McCutchen, acquiring Realmuto, and trading Santana so that Hoskins could move to first base were all excellent moves, but then seemingly outweighed by all the negatives. The failure to sign Hamels, the failure to sign Keuchel thus allowing him to sign with Atlanta, the assumption that Eflin, Pivetta, and Velasquez could join Nola and Arrieta to form an outstanding rotation, and then firing a pitching coach to go with a rookie coach all combine to make Klentak and Kapler look like the very inexperienced leaders that they are. What do you and your fellow writers think at this point? Are you as pessimistic as I am, or do you see the possibility of a bright future for our Phillies?
— Everett Sanborn, via email
Answer: Thanks for the email, Everett, and for reading Extra Innings. You are correct to point out that the Phillies did a lot of positive things before the start of this season, which is why they will likely finish with a few more wins this season than they did a year ago.
That said, it was not enough and, as you also point out, they fell far short in the pitching department. I do believe that with some pitching fixes in the offseason that the Phillies can become good enough to compete for a postseason berth in 2020, but the front office has some serious work to do in that regard.