Despite all the promise and excitement the Phillies provided throughout the postseason, and even the beginning of the NLCS, the team fell to the Arizona Diamondbacks, four games to three, after blowing a 2-0 series lead.
The first two games of the series were played in Philadelphia, where the Phillies had not lost in the 2023 postseason. That trend continued as Zack Wheeler and Aaron Nola dominated on the mound and the Phillies offense looked monstrous. That elite combination resulted in a 5-3 and 10-0 victory in games one and two, respectively.
As the series headed to Arizona, the Phillies seemed to be a completely different ball club. The bats went quiet in game three and wasted an excellent pitching performance from Ranger Suarez who went 5.1 IP and didn’t allow a run. Craig Kimbrel allowed a walk-off hit in the 9th to give the Diamondbacks a 2-1 victory, fittingly shrinking the Phillies’ series lead to 2-1, as well.
Game four was arguably the worst loss of the series for the Phillies. The team took a 5-3 lead into the 8th inning and called upon closer Craig Kimbrel to hold it. Diamondbacks center fielder Alek Thomas had other plans, hitting a two-run homerun to tie the game. The Diamondbacks tacked on another run in the same inning and won the game, 6-5, evening the series at two games each.
Game five was what Phillies fans had been accustomed to long home runs and elite pitching. Kyle Schwarber, Bryce Harper, and J.T. Realmuto all went deep and Zack Wheeler delivered 7 innings only allowing one run, resulting in a 6-1 victory and a 3-2 series lead with the final two games to be played in Philadelphia.
With how dominant the Phillies had been at home, leading some to coin the phrase, “there’s home field advantage, and then there’s Philadelphia,” it would have seemed unfathomable for the team to lose two straight games at Citizens Bank Park. Unfortunately for the city of Philadelphia, that’s exactly what transpired.
In game six, the Phillies looked weak from the jump. Aaron Nola allowed three runs in the second inning and the Diamondbacks never looked back, tacking on two more runs throughout the game and limiting the Phillies offense to just one run. After handing the Phillies their first home loss of the 2023 postseason, the Diamondbacks forced a game seven, the first in the Phillies’ 141-season history.
As Phillies fans packed the stadium with the elite energy they always bring, everyone was ready to win a ball game and head to the World Series for the second straight year. Timely hitting by the Diamondbacks and poor at-bats throughout the game from the Phillies best hitters halted those plans.
The Phillies held a 2-1 lead through 4 innings after a home run from Alec Bohm and an RBI double by Bryson Stott. In the fifth, however, the Diamondbacks scored two runs, taking over the lead by a score of 3-2. They added another in the seventh for good measure. The Diamondbacks’ bullpen held the Phillies scoreless from the fifth inning on. Reality set in for Phillies fans as the team was eliminated and what seemed to be a magical run was over.
After having such high expectations, this series loss was certainly a shock for the Phillies and their fans. The team invested hundreds of millions of dollars into a core of hitters that faltered when it mattered most. Questions remain regarding key free agents such as Nola and Rhys Hoskins, but the biggest stars of the team remain in place for next season, meaning this group will have another chance. The toughest pill to swallow, though, is that this season may have been their best one.