Series Recap: Phillies lose steam on back of Bryce Harper’s injury scare

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Phillies Aaron Nola
Philadelphia Phillies starting pitcher Aaron Nola delivers during the first inning of a baseball game against the Pittsburgh Pirates in Pittsburgh, Sunday, July 31, 2022. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)

South Beach and Miami are highlights for anyone’s vacation plans in Florida. Everyone except the Philadelphia Phillies.

The team came away with a narrow 4-3 win over the Miami Marlins on Friday evening at LoanDepot Park but that was to be the lone highlight of the weekend. Their first road loss since June 12th happened with a 5-3 loss Saturday night and compounding that was their 7-3 loss on Sunday afternoon.

They’ll play the Marlins again in two weeks with a two-game series but this time at Citizens Bank Park. Heading into the All-Star Break, the Phils are 0.5 games back of the final National League Wild Card spot and twelve games back of first place in the NL East. The mood feels familiar as it did back in June 2022 and the Phillies need to get their swing back if they intend to push for the postseason after the All-Star Break.

Game 1: Phillies win 4-3

Philadelphia came into Miami with it being an important series between the two squads. The Phillies were on a 12-game win streak and hoped to make it 13 against a team they’ve struggled against. With how good Miami is and how good the Phillies need to continue to be, it’s not out of the realm of possibility that these two teams could meet in a three-game playoff series in October.

Zack Wheeler took the mound for the Phillies and his troubles started early in the second. Jean Segura punched a two-strike sinker past Trea Turner for a one-out single before Joey Wendle pulled a cutter down the right-field line. Next at the plate, Jacob Stallings hit a fastball right back up the middle for an infield single and Miami took a 1-0 lead. They added another thanks to a single by Dana Mayers.

Wheeler threw forcing 48 pitches through two innings and Garrett Cooper sent a four-seam pitch to the stands and it became a 3-0 ballgame. He retired after six innings. He faced tough Marlins batters but things cooled after Cooper’s homer. Wheeler allowed seven hits, seven strikeouts, and three runs on 101 pitches.

Hitting Finally Shows Up

The bats are the weakest part of the Phillies and it reared its ugly head again in Miami.

Yet J.T. Realmuto started the scoring for the Phils in the sixth inning with a solo homer to make it a 3-1 game.

Realmuto was leadoff for the ninth inning with a single before Alec Bohm ripped a two-strike double down the left-field line to make it a one-run game. Then with two outs and Cristian Pasche at the plate, all hope rested on him.

And thank goodness a lack of hitting since July 1st didn’t hurt him as he smashed a home run to center field to make it a 4-3 game. Phillies would hold the lead and make it 13 straight road wins in a row.

Game 2: Phillies lose 5-3

Looking Off….Again

If there’s one thing the Phillies can bring its consistency with being off after a close win. They did it again after a thrilling win Friday night.

To be more specific, Phillies and starter Ranger Suárez looked off in multiple areas and the Marlins needled it with the precision of surgeon. But it didn’t start off that way.

Philadelphia Phillies’ Bryce Harper (3) is safe at second with a double during the first inning of a baseball game against the Miami Marlins, Saturday, July 8, 2023, in Miami. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)

Philadelphia got off to an early lead thanks to a home run from Turner in the first, his first HR at Miami’s LoanDepot Park. To jog the memory, he hit five homers during the World Baseball Classic in March.

To say it was a bad night for Suárez was putting it politely. He surrendered three runs in the bottom of the first with one of them being a home run from Jorge Soler. He added a single and a walk before striking out Jean Segura to get to two outs. A single by Dane Meyers brought two more men home to put Miami ahead.

Suárez left after 5.2 innings pitched and allowed 4 runs on 8 hits and 4 walks. One was unearned from his own fielding error, the first of Suárez’s career.

Miami Marlins’ Jorge Soler scores on a solo home run during the first inning of a baseball game against the Philadelphia Phillies, Saturday, July 8, 2023, in Miami. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)

Yet you can’t keep a good man down and Philadelphia had two singles thanks to Bohm and Edmundo Sosa. Pache didn’t make it a home run but his close encounter brought both home to make it 3-2. They would make it a tie 3-3 game but that was where the bats fell silent.

Soler’s sacrifice fly with the bases loaded in the fourth gave the Marlins a 4-3 lead. Then Luis Arraez added an RBI single in the seventh that pushed Miami’s lead to 5-3. That held through nine and Miami ended the Phillies’ franchise-record 13-game road win streak.

Bryce Harper’s Concern

The biggest issue of the evening was Bryce Harper. He was hit by a pitch in the right elbow in the third inning. The same elbow where he had Tommy John surgery. He didn’t return to the game after being thrown out on a baserunning blunder. An update after the game:

Game 3: Phillies lose 7-3

Nola Doing Nola Things

When Aaron Nola pitches for the Phillies, it goes one of two ways: really good or really bad. Today, it was the latter as he went up again left-hander Jesús Luzardo.

Philadelphia needed the Happy Days Nola to show up on the mound since Luzardo retired the first three Phillies he faced. It started off well, retiring Luis Arraez and Jorge Soler without much trouble. Then it became pitcher open season.

Bryan De La Cruz ripped a double and Jesús Sánchez followed with a towering two-run homer to give Miami an early lead. It was home run number nine for the season Sánchez. More bad news in the third as Dane Myers smashed his first career home run and De La Cruz made it the third Marlins’ homer of the evening. Add in Jean Segura’s RBI single in the third and Miami made it 5-0. 

Nola was done after six innings. He gave up five runs, eight hits and struck out six. His final strikeout against Wendle on a third-strike clock violation in the sixth was the 1,500 of his career. Bad Nola won out and now leads the league in home runs allowed.

Thankfully in the fifth, Sosa contributed to the first run on the board for the Phillies with his two-run shot. But it would fall short as the Phils fall 7-3. The Marlins reached the All-Star break with their best record in franchise history at 53-39.

For Philadelphia, they lost a series against Marlins for the second time this year. They’ll play again at the end of July. Both will take the week off as All-Star festivities begin Monday.

AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar