SAN FRANCISCO — Kyle Schwarber walked through the quiet postgame clubhouse and made eye contact with a reporter.
“It’ll be fine,” he said, clapping his hands gently. “We’ll be fine.”
Not if the boys on the swell don’t stop walking people.
Phillies pitchers walked five more batters on Sunday and three of them crossed home plate. One of those hitters was Bryce Johnson, a San Francisco Giants rookie who actually had a major league hit. David Robertson walked Johnson in a tied game to lead off the bottom of the 9th inning.
Robertson was making his second career start when he loaded on a defensive error in the bottom of the eighth and hit a dangerous Evan Longoria with the bases loaded. He came back and walked Johnson and struck out two more to open the bottom of the ninth.
Robertson needed one more to bring the Phillies into extra innings.
Wilmer Flores hit a first-pitch slider over the wall to left for a two-run homer and the Phillies ended a grueling trip to Arizona and San Francisco, losing 5-3.
The Phils played poorly in all phases of the game on the road, but JT Realmuto had a chance to finish on a high when he hit a game-tying three-run homer in the eighth. A short time later, the Giants, who entered the series with a seven-game losing streak and 11-of-13 losses, were dancing on the sidelines, following a three-game sweep against the Phillies.
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, to play 28 in 2½ games.
Manager Rob Thomson said: “It’s been a tough week, but it’s only one week. “We start a new week on Tuesday. (Aaron) Nola is going. We have to get back to our winning ways.
“Holidays are funny. Sometimes they come at a bad time. Sometimes they come at a good time. Maybe it’s a good time for someone.”
After Monday’s off day, the Phils host Miami and Washington, the two teams under .500, for the six-game series. The Phils are 8-5 against Miami and 10-2 against Washington.
Monday’s off day doesn’t stop some from thinking that the Phillies might not be safe despite Schwarber’s good pitch. But now you’ve heard that the club haven’t had a winning record in September since 2017. That’s three managers in charge.
“This club is completely different from what we’ve had in previous years,” Rilmuto said. “Obviously this trip didn’t go the way we wanted, but we still have a good lead in the wild-card spot. We just have to play better baseball.”
“We’ve got to rely on good players in this clubhouse. It’s obviously a bad time to go six or seven games, but we don’t look too far. We’ve been behind before. But we have to do a better job offensively with runners in scoring position. We’re under a lot of pressure.”
The Phillies squandered several good scoring chances in close games against the Giants on Saturday and Sunday. In those two games, the runners went 5 for 21.
But the failure of the TV crews to go on strike was fatal both days – and for that matter throughout the trip.
During the trip, the Phillies had a 10-inning game, an eight-inning game and two five-inning games. Six times the Phillies pitcher loaded the bases and walked a batter. He was also a batsman with bases loaded.
“I can’t pinpoint why, but we’re giving away too many free passes, not attacking the zone, we’re getting back a lot,” Realmuto said. “At the beginning of the season we did a good job offensively, but we didn’t do it this week. It’s definitely something we need to fix going forward.”
Thomson was more direct.
“Walking is dangerous. “We’ve got to hit. We’ve got to stop giving guys free passes.”
It was a big problem to start sowing on the trip. Only Bailey Falter had a good start, filling in for the injured Zach Wheeler. Otherwise, the Phillies didn’t get enough innings from their starters and in turn put pressure on a bullpen that was down Seranthony Dominguez and Corey Knebel. In the five losses, Phillies starters have gone 3⅔ innings, 4 innings, 1⅔ innings, 4⅓ innings and 4 innings. This alone is not enough.
Ranger Suarez went three innings on 31 pitches on Sunday before losing in the fourth inning. He went 3-0 while throwing 38 pitches, giving up two walks and three singles. The Phillies did nothing against Giants left-hander Carlos Rodon, striking out 10 batters in six innings. Rilmuto’s homer in the eighth came off righty John Brebia.
Suarez has lost his command and effectiveness in three straight outings in the middle innings and the Phils have lost two. Realmuto says Suarez’s stuff is good, he doesn’t attack him in the middle innings, “picking too much.”
The lefty is approaching a career-high innings total. He is at 127⅔. In the year He’s thrown 106 and just four in 2020 against Kovid. His 2018 high is 139⅓ between the majors and minors.
Suarez says he is healthy and not tired. The Division will need more from him if they want to break a decade-long postseason drought. They’ll need more than they got from Nola in Arizona on the first leg of the road trip, and it will help if Wheeler returns quickly from an elbow injury that no one seems to be worried about. .
Robertson, who gave up a game-winning homer Sunday, is another veteran like Schwarber who has been beating clubs. He shared Schwaberber’s vision after the game.
“We just had a bad week,” he said. “This team is so talented. We have to start fresh in Philly.”
But something added.
“We have to pick up the pace and start winning games,” he said. “There is only a limited amount of time left. We must get back on track.”