And so it ends.
With a whimper.
The Phillies' disappointing 2019 season ended in a 4-3 loss to the Miami Marlins at Citizens Bank Park on Sunday afternoon.
Before the game, Bryce Harper, whose signing in March fueled optimism and expectations not seen since the days of Jimmy Rollins, Chase Utley and Ryan Howard, addressed the crowd of 31,805. He thanked the fans for their support, expressed his belief in the organization and the city and said, "We will reign again." The Phillies then began to plug the final game of the season with a cast of relief pitchers. Two of them gave up three home runs and the Phils trailed, 4-0, before the game was three innings old. Brad Miller got the Phils on the board with a solo homer in the bottom of the third and added a two-run shot in the seventh.
But the Phils got no closer.
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In a season where they came up dreadfully short, they came up short one last time when Andrew Knapp struck out with two men on base to end the game.
The Phillies' ninth loss in the last 12 games and 16th this month denied them a winning record, which, at the outset of the season seemed like the most minimal of expectations. They finished 81-81. They have not had a winning season since 2011.
Change seems to be a-brewin' for this team. Pitching coach Chris Young is likely to be a casualty. Manager Gabe Kapler could also go. His future has been a serious topic of discussion among organization leaders for weeks and the team's drop from wild-card contention and poor finish did not help his cause.
In two seasons on the job, Kapler is 161-163.
The Phillies were in first place in the NL East for a good period of time in both of Kapler's seasons at the helm. The 2018 Phillies were 15 games over .500 and leading the NL East on Aug. 7. They collapsed and went 16-33 down the stretch to finish under .500.
The 2019 Phillies were 11 games over .500 and 3½ up in the division on May 30. Less than a month later, they were 6½ games back in the division.
The Phillies finished in fourth place in the NL East, not what anyone envisioned when the team acquired All-Star catcher J.T. Realmuto in February and signed Harper to a 13-year, $330 million contract a few weeks later.
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