WASHINGTON, D.C. - The Phillies were no match for Patrick Corbin or the top of the Nationals' order in a 7-2 loss, their fourth in the last five games.
At 79-76, the Phillies are one loss to the Nats or one Brewers win away from being eliminated from the wild-card race. The second game of Tuesday's doubleheader might be totally meaningless.
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Zach Eflin gave up three early solo home runs to Adam Eaton, Yan Gomes and Trea Turner. Out of top two spots in the order, Turner and Eaton were 5 for 8 with five runs. You're not going to win many games putting so many runners on base in front of Anthony Rendon and Juan Soto.
Corbin didn't need much support. He allowed one run over six innings, struck out six and held the Phillies hitless in eight at-bats with runners in scoring position.
The Phillies are 5-10 against the Nationals this season. You'll recall that they began the season series with a commanding 8-2 win in D.C. on April 2, the night Bryce Harper hit a 458-foot home run in his first game back.
The next afternoon, Rhys Hoskins dropped a routine throw at first base and David Robertson imploded as the Phillies blew a two-run, eighth-inning lead. That would have been the Phillies' fifth straight win to start the season. Here they are 150 games later, still without a five-game winning streak.
It has basically been all downhill from there for the Phillies in their head-to-head matchup with Washington. The Nationals went 7-1 against the Phillies this season in games started by Max Scherzer, Corbin or Stephen Strasburg.
Harper does it again
Harper baited Soto and Nationals third base coach Bob Henley into an aggressive send in the first inning. Deep in right-center and flat-footed, Harper nailed Soto at the plate for his 13th outfield assist of the season, tying his career-high from 2013 when teams knew less about his defense and were more willing to test him.
Harper has been very good in right field this season, worlds better than he was in 2018. He faced many questions during spring training about his defense. None of those questions will be asked in February or March of 2020.
Realmuto shut down?
J.T. Realmuto was out of the lineup with right knee soreness. He had an MRI Monday night which will help the Phillies determine whether there is a risk of further injury. If there is not, Realmuto could be back this season. If there is, it will be an easy decision to shut him down (more details here).
Old stomping grounds
In 15 games against the Nationals this season, Harper has hit .260 with a .415 on-base percentage, three doubles, two homers and eight RBI.
He had a good year against the Braves (7 homers, 1.016 OPS), a decent year against the Marlins (12 RBI in 13 games, .917 OPS) and struggled against the Mets (.226/.342/.403).
Who starts Tuesday?
The Phillies will start reliever Blake Parker in Game 1 Tuesday. It will be a bullpen game.
Game 2 pits Aaron Nola (12-6, 3.75) against Max Scherzer (10-7, 2.81).
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