PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — It’s easy to call it a throwaway game, just some contest in May the Phillies had a chance to win. Maybe it won’t mean anything in October when the Phillies have clinched a playoff berth and are looking for home-field throughout the postseason.
Or maybe, the Chicago Cubs’ 3-2 walk-off win Tuesday night over the Phillies could carry more significance.
What may be remembered, if the loss does come back to bite the Phillies, is how they pretty much gave the Cubs the game.
Manager Gabe Kapler wanted to give relief pitchers Pat Neshek, Adam Morgan, Seranthony Dominguez and Hector Neris, in NBA parlance, a “load management” day off Tuesday. It left the Phillies in the dubious hands of relievers Edgar Garcia, Jose Alvarez and Juan Nicasio.
Nicasio wasn’t able to handle the situation. Pinch-hitter Javier Baez singled home the winning run.
Kapler was left dancing afterward as to why he wouldn’t use his more established relievers.
“I think I’ve been pretty consistent with the approach of aggressively going after wins when we can lock them down,” Kapler told reporters after the game. “I think you always want to balance winning tonight’s baseball game with winning a series and winning the long game.”
“We were strict, going to give those guys a blow. They’ve all been working really hard both in the pen and getting up and also in getting into games consistently. Again, definitely believed Nicasio could get the job done. We saw Alvarez get the job done, we saw Garcia get the job done, and we believed Nicasio could, as well. Again, we were asking a lot of him to go through that part of the lineup. It’s a really potent portion of the Cubs’ lineup.”
The Phillies had a chance to take the series with the Cubs on Tuesday and basically handed Chicago the game by limiting themselves. It’s May.
Kapler wants to win “the long game.” That’s acceptable.
But what happened Tuesday night tends to have a haunting quality.
The Phillies only have one team to beat in the National League East: The Atlanta Braves. The Phillies look playoff bound, though hopefully, one loss in May won’t come back to bite them when it comes to winning the division as opposed to playing in a Wild Card game.