WASHINGTON — It was right there for the Phillies on Friday night at Nationals Park.
Leading the Nationals by a run with one out in the fifth inning, the Phillies looked ready to break it open with a decisive rally. For a team that had been eyeing the .500 mark for the past month, this was the chance.
Not this time. Instead of piecing together the game-breaking rally, the Phillies’ offense went to sleep after Ben Revere grounded into an inning-ending double play. After Jimmy Rollins lobbed a single into right field to load the bases with one out in the fifth, the Phillies sent 13 hitters to the plate.
Those 13 hitters made 14 outs.
Worse, the Phillies scored just a pair in the 5-2 loss to the Nats (see game recap), marking the 19th time in 48 games the team has scored two runs or fewer.
“We were right there with them until we went back out on the field there,” manager Charlie Manuel said after his team fell to 23-25. “They scored and went ahead of us. They shut us down from there. It was a good game up until that point.”
It nearly was a rout for the Phillies.
Domonic Brown and Freddy Galvis led off the inning with singles followed by a sacrifice fly from Erik Kratz to give the Phils a 2-1 lead. Pitcher Kyle Kendrick followed with a slug bunt up the middle to put runners on first and second to flip over the lineup. That’s when Rollins blooped the ball over the infield into left field for a single.
Running on contact, Galvis appeared to have a head of steam headed into third base. When he hit the bag and took a turn for home he slammed on the brakes when he saw third-base coach Ryne Sandberg with both arms up signaling for him to stop.
Maybe Galvis could have forced leftfielder Tyler Moore to make a throw to the plate to get him. Maybe he would have made it with the third run.
Either way, with the heart of the Phillies' lineup due up, Sandberg saw a big inning looming. That’s why the third-base coach threw up the stop sign.
“Yeah, that's kind of what happened,” Manuel said. “I don't know how good Freddy read that ball.”
Instead of a big inning, Revere hit Jordan Zimmermann’s 0-1 offering hard and right at second baseman Steve Lombardozzi.
Revere and the Phillies never had a chance.
“I’m trying to hit it as hard as I can and I hit it right to the second baseman,” Revere said. “It’s one of those things in the game. We’ll come back to tomorrow, try to get the series even and win Sunday.”
The Phillies grounded into a pair of double plays on Friday night and have bounced into 39 of them this season. Revere, perhaps the speediest runner on the team, has grounded into seven double plays this season. That’s the same number as he grounded into in each of the last two seasons.
The difference is Revere hit into 16 double plays in his first 991 big-league plate appearances. He hit unlucky No. 7 in just his 150th plate appearance on Friday night.
Like Revere, the Phillies were stopped cold in their tracks after that decisive fifth inning. The Nats posted four runs in the bottom half of the inning and that was more than enough.
After all, the Phillies went 13 up and 14 down the rest of the way. When a team has trouble scoring runs, it’s those little plays that make the biggest difference.
“You’re right, really. That's usually what happens,” Manuel said. “Things don't go your way. Ben hits into a double play. That's kind of the way it goes.”