Phillies' home magic runs out at end of NLCS
Posted on: 25 Oct, 2023 at 04:37 AM
Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports
PHILADELPHIA -- The Philadelphia Phillies turned Citizens Bank Park into a party through their first six home games of the postseason, winning each time.
Instead of the songs of celebration and World Series trip those who showed up to the ballpark on Tuesday night were looking for, Phillies fans headed out the gates with the knowledge that the party was officially over.
The Arizona Diamondbacks rained on that parade with a 4-2 victory in Game 7 of the National League Championship Series. The visitors won the final two contests to knock out the reigning NL champs one win short of a World Series return.
"It's very disappointing," Phillies manager Rob Thomson said. "I told the club if you asked me two days ago, two weeks ago, two months ago if we'd be going home (on Oct. 24), I would have said no. That's how much belief I have in this club."
The Phillies threw a starter who entered Tuesday night with a 0.64 postseason ERA this year, Ranger Suarez, and gave the ball to their two most trusted relievers, Jeff Hoffman and Jose Alvarado, but it wasn't enough to protect a 2-1 lead after four innings. For the second night in a row, the Philadelphia offense couldn't muster a comeback going 1-for-10 with runners in scoring position in Game 7 after a 1-for-7 performance in those situations in Game 6.
Some of the big bats that carried the Phillies past the Miami Marlins in the wild-card series and past the Atlanta Braves in the NL Division Series and helped them win the first two games of the NLCS went ice cold at the wrong time.
Nick Castellanos went 0-for-4 with two strikeouts on Tuesday to finish his season on an 0-for-23 streak. Trea Turner went 0-for-4 to end his season on an 0-for-14 skid. Bryce Harper chilled off as well, going 0-for-7 in the final two losses of the season.
"That's the ebbs and flows of offense," Thomson said. "People aren't going to hit every single day of the season. It's just not going to happen. Other guys gotta pick it up. Other guys got to get it done. ... We had some people on base tonight. We just couldn't get the big hit."
Philadelphia went 90-72 during the regular season, which was the fourth-best record in the NL and marked the franchise's highest win total since 2011. The Phillies finished 14 games behind the Braves in the NL East this season, but that hasn't seemed to matter much in the postseason.
The Phillies came two wins away from a World Series trophy in 2022 after entering the playoffs as the third and final NL wild-card team. They got to Game 7 of the NLCS in 2023 after grabbing the top wild-card spot and then dispatching the Braves in the NLDS for the second straight season.
With injured first baseman Rhys Hoskins, who was in the dugout Tuesday night, starting pitcher Aaron Nola and relief pitcher Craig Kimbrel the only notable free agents, a similar-looking group will try to finish the job in 2024.
"It's always about getting the final out in the World Series, but we're built for October because of our starting pitching, because of our offense and we have a good bullpen," Thomson said. "Now sometimes those areas break down a little bit, but we've got a good ballclub. But our goal isn't to get to the playoffs. Our goal is always to win the World Series."
--Owen McCue, Field Level Media