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Phillies news and rumors 9/11: Phillies offense squandering opportunities so far in September

Alec Bohm struck out in a big spot in yesterday’s game. (Don Otto/Phillies Nation)

The Philadelphia Phillies had one of the best offenses in baseball in August. They slashed .287/.359/.548 as a team while scoring the second-most runs in the Major Leagues with 176, or 6.5 per game. The 59 home runs Philadelphia hit led the big leagues and also set a new franchise record for most homers hit in a single month.

Rob Thomson’s club also had a .303 batting average with runners in scoring position last month. That’s an area they have struggled with at times this year and ever since the calendar turned to September, those struggles have circled back around.

In nine games so far this month, the Phillies have hit .230/.335/.443 as a club. They’re averaging 4.67 runs per game and have hit 16 home runs. With runners in scoring position, Philadelphia is 16-for-80, “good” for a .200 batting average. In the midst of those struggles, they’ve left a total of 68 runners on base.

Last week, in their three-game series win against the San Diego Padres at Petco Park, the Phillies combined to go 6-for-35 (.171) with runners in scoring position, leaving 31 runners on in the process. When talking about that series, manager Rob Thomson said, “…we left a of guys on base, too. I think we’re just going through a period. I’ve always said you come out of that.”

In the three games since that series, the lineup hasn’t come out of it. Over the weekend, the team recorded five hits in 25 at-bats with runners in scoring position in their series loss to the Miami Marlins. That’s a .200 average. They stranded 22 runners on the base paths.

There were three offensive moments that stood out in Philadelphia’s two losses to Miami. One came in the club’s Friday night loss. In the bottom of the seventh inning, Nick Castellanos stepped to the plate with the bases loaded and two outs with his team down by a run. The batter before him, Bryce Harper, worked a four-pitch walk. Castellanos swung at, and got jammed on, the first pitch he saw, grounding out to end the threat.

The other two came in Sunday’s 5-4 loss. In the bottom of the seventh inning, the bases were loaded once again for the Phillies. The game was tied and there were two outs. Alec Bohm, the club’s best hitter with runners in scoring position this year with a .351 batting average in such situations, took a called third strike that wasn’t in any danger of being called a ball to end the frame.

An inning later, down 5-4 with runners on second and third, Edmundo Sosa and Kyle Schwarber struck out in back-to-back at-bats, ending the home half of the eighth.

After dropping two of three to Miami, Philadelphia lost their overall season series to the Fish six games to seven. That’s important because if the two clubs tie for a playoff spot at the end of the season, the Marlins would win the head-to-head tiebreaker.

That means a potential Wild Card Series between the two teams would be played in Miami, not Philadelphia, if they’re tied atop the Wild Card standings. Or, if they’re tied for the third and final Wild Card spot, the Marlins would be in the postseason and the Phillies wouldn’t be.

The Phillies, holders of the top NL Wild Card spot by two games over the Chicago Cubs, currently have four more wins than the Marlins, who are a 1/2-game out of the NL Wild Card standings behind the Arizona Diamondbacks.

If the Phillies want to finish their season strong and clinch their second consecutive playoff berth, they’ll have to find a way to come up in big spots. Their manager seems confident that they will. They have 20 games left on their regular season schedule to figure it out.

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