Are the Phillies playing tight? J.T. Realmuto tends to think so, as he said Sunday that “we’re putting a little pressure on ourselves and playing tighter than normal” during this playoff race. Joe Girardi disagreed before Tuesday’s game, saying the team has players who have been through playoff pushes and “we’ve had these kinds of streaks before and I don’t think anyone would have said we were playing tight.”

But Kyle Gibson, who started Wednesday as the Phillies lost to another team with a dreadful record, said Realmuto would know best. Much was made of the team’s schedule this month as the Phillies spend most of September facing down teams. But the games aren’t played on paper and this September is starting to feel a lot like the last three Septembers.

The Phillies have lost six of their last seven games and seem to be cracking again under the pressure of a playoff push. They trail first-place Atlanta in the NL East by 4 1/2 games with 18 games left and are behind three teams — San Diego, St. Louis, and Cincinnati — for the NL’s second wild card. Time is running out.

“I think J.T. obviously reads the room really well,” Gibson said after a 6-3 loss to the Cubs. “So if he thinks guys are pressing a little bit or tight, then obviously I trust his judgment there. But I do think that guys understand the magnitude of every day and they’re trying to go out there and do the best they can. Maybe every now and then, it leads to trying a bit too hard.”

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— Matt Breen (extrainnings@inquirer.com)

The rundown

Gibson retired the first 12 batters he faced Tuesday before he made a series of costly mistakes that doomed the Phillies in the series opener vs. the Cubs.

The Phillies played without Realmuto, who had an anti-inflammatory injection to help his sore shoulder. They expect him back Thursday.

Five years ago, Philadelphia made history by becoming the first city to have top-two picks in the NBA, NFL, and MLB drafts. Carson Wentz is gone, Ben Simmons wants out, and Mickey Moniak is trying to find his way with the Phillies.

The Phillies held a moment of silence before Tuesday’s game for former owner Ruly Carpenter, who died Monday.

Important dates

Tonight: Ranger Suarez faces Cubs right-hander Alec Mills, 7:05 p.m.

Tomorrow: Phillies try a bullpen game in the series finale, 6:05 p.m.

Friday: Zack Wheeler starts the series opener in New York vs. the Mets, 7:10 p.m.

Saturday: Aaron Nola starts vs. former Phils prospect Carlos Carrasco, 7:15 p.m.

Sunday: Phils and Mets finish their series on Sunday Night Baseball, 7:08 p.m.

Stat of the day

Ryan Bryan, who was a free agent this season, announced his retirement Tuesday after 14 years with Milwaukee. The Phillies said, “Good riddance.”

Braun’s OPS at Citizens Bank Park (1.265) is the highest in the ballpark’s history among players with at least 100 plate appearances. He homered 14 times in Citizens Bank Park and had 45 RBIs in 38 games there. The Phillies won’t miss him.

Among active players, Washington’s Juan Soto has the highest OPS (1.126) in South Philly. The bad news? The Phillies play the Nationals much more frequently than they face the Brewers. So you might have to get used to Soto mashing at CBP.

From the mailbag

Send questions by email or on Twitter @matt_breen.

Question: Do you really think it is a good idea for the Phillies to pitch a bullpen game every five days? Just because it works for the Rays, Giants and Dodgers (with the three best records in Major League Baseball) does not mean it will work for the near .500 Phillies. The bullpen has not been that strong including thirty blown saves. There has to be someone who can start a few games. — Don M. via email

Answer: Thanks, Don. No, I don’t. There’s a reason it works for the Rays, Giants, and Dodgers, and it’s the same reason those teams all have winning percentages well over .600: They have acutely assembled a stable of good pitchers thanks to years of smart front-office moves.

The Phillies aren’t there yet. I would’ve rather seen what Vince Velasquez could offer than a bullpen game, especially after it resulted Friday in a nine-run loss. The odds seem stacked against the Phils every bullpen game, and it’s hard to gain momentum that way.