The Phillies reached the All-Star break at 47-43, which, according to BaseballReference.com’s Pythagorean Theorem calculations, represented an overachievement of two games. The theorem, created by Bill James, relies on run differential, and the Phillies are just a plus-two (442-440) in that department.
Detached from mathematical calculations are the actual games, and when you look back at them, the number of losses the Phillies could have and probably should have won outnumbered the wins they could have and probably should have lost. From top to bottom, here’s a look at the Phillies’ worst defeats this season.
We start here not because the Phillies’ 9-6 loss that day came after they had built a 6-1 lead, but because this defeat came against Miami, the team with by far the worst record in the National League and the team most responsible for the Phillies’ underachieving first half.
The Phillies had built an early lead behind a two-run double by Scott Kingery and a two-run home run by Rhys Hoskins only to see the bullpen duo of Juan Nicasio and Adam Morgan cough it up during a six-run Miami seventh inning. The Marlins scored six runs or more in a game only 22 times in the first half, but six of those games came against the Phillies, who are 6-7 against Miami. The two teams ahead of the Phillies in the NL East are a combined 20-5 against the Marlins. Atlanta is 10-2 and Washington is 10-3.
The Phillies had fallen out of first place for the first time since April 25 two nights earlier, but they looked as if they were going to win a fourth straight game against the Atlanta Braves after opening the season with a three-game sweep at Citizens Bank Park. The Phillies, with the help of home runs by Bryce Harper and Scott Kingery, led, 5-1, after five innings and 7-2 after the top of the seventh.
They still led, 8-6, going into the bottom of the ninth and the Braves were down to their last out with a runner on second base when they scored three times to hand Hector Neris his first blown save of the season.
The Phillies had opened the season with four straight wins and were on the verge of making it five in a game started by Washington ace Max Scherzer when they scored five times in the top of the eighth inning against the Nats’ beleaguered bullpen to take an 8-5 lead. Chants of “We got Harper” came from the visiting Phillies fans who had made the early-season trip to Nationals Park.
Bryce Harper went 5-for-7 with a double, home run, and three walks in the two games in D.C. But the Phillies’ party came to a crashing halt when Washington scored twice in the ninth off Seranthony Dominguez to tie the game, then won it in the 10th off prized free-agent addition David Robertson, who gave up a leadoff single to Anthony Rendon before walking three straight batters without getting an out. Eleven days later Robertson landed on the injured list and the Phillies bullpen problems swung into high gear.
The Phillies led only 1-0 in this game and lost, 8-2, but it ranks high on the list of devastating losses because this was the game in which they lost outfielder Andrew McCutchen for the season.
The Phillies are 4-7 against Washington this season and four of the seven losses make this list. This 10-6 loss came after the Phillies had taken a 6-1 lead against Stephen Strasburg in the fourth, thanks to a two-run triple by Jean Segura. Aaron Nola cruised through the first six innings, but he stumbled in the seventh when Washington scored three times to get within a run. The Nats tied the game in the ninth on a two-out home run by Victor Robles and scored four – three on a Juan Soto home run --in the 10th to win it.
After scoring the final nine runs of the game the night before, the Nationals scored the game’s first 15 runs the next night in a 15-1 win. It’s difficult for an NFL team to score 24 straight points, but it should be impossible for a baseball team to score 24 straight runs without allowing one.
Behind four seventh-inning doubles by Rhys Hoskins, J.T. Realmuto, Sean Rodriguez, and Phil Gosselin, the Phillies turned a 5-3 deficit into an 8-5 lead. It disappeared in the eighth when reliever Adam Morgan surrendered a two-out, three-run home run to Kurt Suzuki that was followed by a solo shot from Victor Robles. The Nats, who were without Juan Soto, Anthony Rendon, and Trea Turner, scored another run in the ninth to win, 10-8.
Having gone 50-82 against the Mets since the 2012 season, the Phillies’ first game this season against their longtime division rival started with another disheartening defeat. The Phillies, on four walks and one hit, had pulled even in the bottom of the eighth inning only to lose, 7-6, in the 11th after New York scored on a Rhys Hoskins error. The Phillies have won nine of 12 against the Mets since that night.
Bryce Harper’s RBI double was the Phillies’ 17th hit and it gave them a 3-2 lead in the top of the 12th. Down to their last strike, the Rockies won in the bottom of the 12th when Charlie Blackmon crushed a two-run homer off Juan Nicascio.