MLB Wild Card: Phillies lose to Giants on Wilmer Flores’ walk-off home run – NBC Sports Philadelphia

MLB Wild Card: Phillies lose to Giants on Wilmer Flores' walk-off home run - NBC Sports Philadelphia

SAN FRANCISCO — Kyle Schwarber strolled through the quiet postgame clubhouse and made eye contact with a reporter.

“It’ll be fine,” he said, clapping his hands softly. “We’ll be fine.”

Not if the boys on the bump don’t stop walking people.

Phillies pitchers walked five more batters on Sunday and three of them ended up crossing home plate. One of those hitters was Bryce Johnson, a San Francisco Giants rookie with exactly one big league hit. David Robertson walked Johnson in a tying run to lead off the bottom of the ninth inning.

Robertson was in his second inning of work after pitching over a defensive miscue in the bottom of the eighth and striking out dangerous Evan Longoria with the bases loaded to end that inning. He came back and struck out two more after walking Johnson to open the bottom of the ninth.

Robertson needed one more out to get the Phillies to extra innings…

An explosion.

Wilmer Flores hit a one-pitch slider over the wall in left for a two-run homer and the Phillies walked off the field at the end of a grueling trip to Arizona and San Francisco with a demoralizing 5-3 loss.

The Phils played poorly in all phases of the game on the road trip, but they had a chance to end it on a high note after JT Realmuto hit a game-tying three-run homer in the eighth. Shortly after, the Giants, who entered the series losing seven straight and 11 of 13, danced off the field, their three-game sweep of the Phillies complete.

The Phillies went 1-5 on the trip. They have lost six of their last seven. They fell from second to third in the NL wild-card race, leading Milwaukee, the first team out, by 2½ games with 28 to play.

“It’s been a frustrating week, but it’s only one week,” manager Rob Thomson said. “We start a new week on Tuesday. We start (Aaron) Nola. We have to get back to our winning ways.

“Fat days are funny. Sometimes they come at a bad time. Sometimes they come at a good time. It’s probably a good time for one.”

After Monday’s off day, the Phils host Miami and Washington, two teams well below .500, for six straight. The Phils are 8-5 against Miami and 10-2 against Washington.

Monday’s off day won’t stop some from wondering if maybe the Phillies, despite Schwarber’s optimistic tone, won’t be fine. By now, you’ve heard that the club hasn’t had a winning record in September since 2017. That’s three managers ago.

“This is a completely different club than we’ve had in years past,” Realmuto said. “Obviously, this trip didn’t go the way we wanted it to. But we still have a nice lead in the wild card spot. We just have to play better baseball.

“We’ve got to trust the good players in this clubhouse. Obviously it’s a bad time for a bad six or seven games, but we’re not going to look into it too much. We’ve come back before. But we’ve got to do a better job offensively with runners in scoring position. We’re putting too much pressure on our pitching staff.”

The Phils wasted a bunch of good scoring opportunities to lose close games to the Giants on Saturday and Sunday. They went 5 for 21 with runners in scoring position in those two games.

But the pitching staff’s inability to throw strikes was fatal both days — and the entire trip for that matter.

During the trip, the Phillies had a 10-walk game, an eight-walk game and two five-walk games. Six times a Phillies pitcher walked a batter with the bases loaded. There was also a batter with the bases loaded.

“I can’t pinpoint why, but we’re giving away too many free passes, just not attacking the zone, falling way behind in the count,” Realmuto said. “We did a great job attacking early in the season, but we didn’t this week. It’s definitely something we have to fix going forward.”

Thomson was more direct.

“Walking is a concern,” he said. “We’ve got to throw strikes. We’ve got to stop giving guys free passes.”

Launching was a big problem during the trip. Only Bailey Falter, filling in for an injured Zack Wheeler, delivered a quality start. Otherwise, the Phillies didn’t get enough innings from their starters and that, in turn, put pressure on a bullpen that is down Seranthony Dominguez and Corey Knebel. In the five losses, Phillies starters went 3⅔ innings, 4 innings, 1⅔ innings, 4⅓ innings and 4 innings. That is not enough.

Keeper Suarez cruised through three innings on 31 pitches Sunday then lost it in the fourth inning. He gave up two walks and three singles while throwing 38 pitches and trailing, 3-0. The Phils did nothing against Giants lefty Carlos Rodon, who struck out 10 in six innings. Realmuto’s home run in the eighth came against righty John Brebbia.

Suarez lost command and efficiency three straight outings in the middle innings and the Phils lost two of them. Realmuto says Suarez’s stuff is good, he just doesn’t attack in the middle innings, “picking too much.”

The left-hander is approaching a career-high innings total. He is at 127⅔. He threw 106 last year and just four while dealing with COVID in 2020. His high is 139⅓ between the majors and minors in 2018.

Suarez said he is healthy and not tired. The Phils will need more of him if they are to break their decade-long postseason drought. They’ll also need more than they got from Nola in Arizona in the first leg of the trip, and it would help if Wheeler can come back quickly from elbow inflammation that no one seems all that worried about, but will now cost him a third start. .

Robertson, who gave up the game-tying homer on Sunday, is another veteran, like Schwarber, who has been on winning clubs. He shared Schwarber’s opinion on everything after the game.

“We just had a bad week,” he said. “This team is way too talented. We have to start over in Philly.”

But he added something.

“We need to pick up the pace and start winning games,” he said. “There’s only a certain amount of time left. We have to get back on track.”

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