Snapshot observations: Phillies squander golden opportunities in Game 5 loss, on the brink of World Series loss

Snapshot observations: Phillies squander golden opportunities in Game 5 loss, on the brink of World Series loss

Of all the losses this postseason (and there haven’t been many), the 3-2 Game 5 loss to fall behind 3-2 in the World Series is probably the most painful.

A day after not getting hit, the team came out with energy and showcased the elite talent that got them to this spot. But they hit the ball really hard, but not at the right times or in the right places. They stranded running back after running back after running back and wasted a pretty good effort on a “bullpen game,” and now they’re about to see their unlikely championship hopes completely dashed.

Returning to Houston on Saturday after a day off, the Phillies will need to win both games at Minute Maid Park to win their third world title.

Is there any chance they will get it? That’s a discussion for tomorrow. For now, let’s take a look at the good, the bad, and the ugly of a heartbreaking World Series loss:

The good

• The Phillies were hitless and runless in Game 4 on Wednesday. Kyle Schwarber decided enough was enough. He went deep only two pitches in the game to tie at 1 apiece.

The whole dilemma here heading into this game after the no-hitter was how this team would bounce back. Most teams, like almost all, would probably have trouble not packing or feeling defeated. This Phillies squad is special and seems unfamiliar with any such emotion. They seem to enjoy the steep, unique challenges they’ve had to face throughout the season and postseason.

• It was risky that Dusty Baker sent Jeremy Pena running in the first inning with a 1-0 lead. The best catcher in baseball sniffed him out and Bryson Stott made a big bunt to get the strike out double play. The Phils desperately needed momentum and the Astros’ unnecessarily aggressive decision gave it back to Philly.

• Connor Brogdon had two fantastic close innings in the fourth and fifth. Those valuable outs allow the Phillies to preserve their best weapons for the latter part of the game.

• The Phillies put together a truly impressive one-on-one that saved a career and possibly their season when they caught Yuli Gurriel between third and home and were able to hold him off on Jose Altuve’s groundout.

• We’ll highlight defense one last time: With two in the ninth and the Astros threatening safe runs, Alec Bohm maneuvered a clever double play to end the inning, calmly stepping on third base before firing the ball to first. It’s no exaggeration to say the Phillies might not be here if it weren’t for Bohm’s work in the hot corner with his glove this postseason.

• I have to give some big endorsements to the Phillies organization for filling the stadium with star power, from the first lady to Bruce Springsteen, the Eagles players and the former World Series champions. Even Meek Mill was in the field for this.

They have also thrown a perfect game throughout the postseason with their first shooting decisions. Every beloved star of the 2008 team was on the field at some point, climaxing with Brad Lidge throwing the first pitch of Game 5 to Carlos Ruiz. Win or lose, the memories this franchise has provided its fans in recent weeks should be the rejuvenation this franchise needs to start packing stands in the coming regular seasons.

• The last time the Phils wore light blue jerseys in the postseason was in 1983 against the Orioles. They use them on Thursdays at home, and this was a Thursday at home. Shamus Clancy thanks you, who pulled the trigger on this decision.

The bad

• The Phillies were two feet away from forcing extra innings. What an incredible catch by Chas McCormick.

• A line drive off the center-field wall with Altuve’s bat wasn’t the best start for the Phillies. A mistake by Brandon Marsh trying to pick him up off the turf after a carom off the wall was even less than optimal. With his leadoff hitter at third, Peña was able to drive him in seconds later with a single up the middle. And so it was 1-0.

• Midway through the second, the Phillies’ patience against Justin Verlander and their shaky control almost paid off when a single by Jean Segura was followed by back-to-back walks that gave Rhys Hoskins a plate full of Phillies with two outs. Hoskins would strike out, scoring the first missed opportunity of the night for Philadelphia’s offense.

The offense wasted another two men in a situation soon after, and unfortunately Verlander seemed to find his footing in the fourth and fifth innings, leaving Phillies hitters flummoxed and wishing they had taken advantage of their earlier opportunities.

A double by Bryce Harper with two in the fifth gave Nick Castellanos a chance to break into Philadelphia’s sporting heroism, but a 10-pitch at-bat resulted in a popup, allowing Verlander to exit the game with his small advantage intact.

Even against the bullpen, Philly wasted his scoring attempts, blowing a Bohm single to lead off the sixth and walking afterward.

This would be an appropriate time to drop this nugget:

• After stranding runner after runner after runner in recent games, the Phillies were up against the wall, down two in the eighth with two on (both walks) and Jean Segura in the batter’s box. The second baseman wasted little time hitting a single to right to drive in Castellanos. With Bryson Stott on third, Marsh couldn’t put the ball in play to give Stott a chance to score, and Schwarber lined first with a hard hit. It just wasn’t his night.

• The Phillies have gotten a lot of impressive innings out of their bullpen this October, but in Game 5, Seranthony Dominguez just didn’t, leaving the eighth without retiring a batter and two basemen. The Astros added a sure run on Yordan Alverez’s RBI groundout, and their 3-1 lead late in that inning seemed insurmountable in the face of their run-scoring struggles the past two games.

• Hopes for Game 5 starter Noah Syndergaard were pretty low, just don’t screw things up massively, and he really didn’t in his three-plus innings of work. He managed the Astros’ talented batting order once before giving up a second run, a solo homer to Jeremy Pena that put Houston back on top. A long 18 outs for the Phillies bullpen remained ahead, as well as a deficit. But Rob Thomson and company probably would have scored two runs and nine outs if they had to.

The ugly one

• It wouldn’t be a nationally televised event in Philadelphia without some braggart running the field.

• The crowd was never quieter this postseason than after Schwarber’s eighth-inning lineout. It was creepy. 46,000 people dressed in red barely made a sound as the game reached the ninth inning. Philly fans live and die with their teams in places like this. It’s almost a bigger sign of respect for the team than cheering. Philadelphians feel these teams deep in their bones and it is what makes this city the best sports city in America.

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