WASHINGTON — The Phillies continue to make things difficult for themselves in the final days of ending a 10-year playoff drought.
They lost their first game Saturday afternoon in the doubles against the worst baseball team for several reasons, but poor defense is a long-term problem for the club, which ranks high.
Joey Meneses, an avid follower of the Phillies’ minor league system, drove in four games as the Washington Nationals beat the Phillies in a devastating 13-4 loss, Philadelphia The Man team eventually had to use position players on the mound, an embarrassing development at any time, especially in the final days of the playoff chase.
Menezes’ 3-run RBI escaped third baseman Alec Bohm’s batting double with two outs in the second inning. The ball hits at 78 miles per hour. Bohm had a chance to hit the backhand, either on a jump or in the air, but neither. The next hitter, Luke Voit, let Kyle Gibson go deep for five innings and put the Nationals up 6-1, who never gave up.
The loss was the Phillies’ sixth of their last seven games and 11th of their last 15 as they continue to falter with shaky playoff hopes. They tied Milwaukee for the last NL wild card spot at 84-73. Both teams will play Saturday night. The Brewers host Miami, while the Phillies will be in Washington for a bedtime event with Noah Sindegaard.
“We’ve got to get them in Game 2,” manager Rob Thomson said. “Look at what we’re made of.”
And what makes up this Sept. 11-15 Phillies team?
“All year, I said they were resilient, they fought, they came back, and they did it,” Thomson said. “Even in the eighth and ninth innings, there was a lot of energy on the bench. The whole game you were thinking we’d be back.
“This team has been resilient all year, I believe in them, I have faith in them, I have faith in them, and I think we’ll be fine.”
The outcome of Game 2 in Washington and the Milwaukee Blues-Marlins will go a long way to determining whether the Phillies are actually going to get better.
The Phillies acquired Syndergard at the trade deadline, but he was moved to the bullpen after eight starts, and he gave up 30 hits and 15 runs in 22 innings in the final four games.
Like Syndergard, Gibson has struggled a lot lately. He had a 9.53 ERA in five starts in September, and the Phillies lost four of them. The first day of October didn’t give Gibson any better results. He led 1-0 in the first half of the first inning and then started walking the first batter in the second half. This became a draw.
In the second inning, Gibson gave up three double-out singles — one of which was an infield hit, and CJ Abrams passed second baseman Jean Segura’s pitch — before Menezes put his doubles on. A three-pointer was made before passing Bohm.
If Segura or Bohm played behind Gibson, it could have been a different game.
“Normally, he’s going to hit that kind of ball,” Thomson said of Menezes’ ball that was hit by Bohm. “He just doesn’t read well. It’s a change, hook. He’s just late for a break. He should knock it out if he can.”
“Yes,” Thomson said. “That’s a big part of the game. Abrams hit the bat early in the inning. I don’t know if the runner got in Sergey’s way, he changed course. I think he thought the bat Heavier than it used to be.”
Gibson isn’t pointing the finger at his defense.
“I don’t think that got me out of the game,” he said. “I’m not someone sitting here talking negatively about any of us. They work hard every day. Sometimes it doesn’t go our way, sometimes it does. When it doesn’t go our way, I do.”
Later in the game, Menezes homered Gibson, who ended up with 8 hits and 7 runs.
Meneses is a 30-year-old professional minor leaguer who made his major league debut on Aug. 8 with the Nationals. Since being drafted, he has led the national team with 68 hits, 13 homers and 33 RBIs.
One of the Meneses’ minor league stops was Lehigh Valley in 2018. He hit .311 with 23 homers and 82 RBIs, but never got the attention of the big clubs. Four years later, he dented the team’s playoff hopes.
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