Forgive the Philadelphia Phillies if they are feeling empty right about now.
The Phillies, who are set to open a three-game, season-ending series against the host Miami Marlins on Friday night, are no longer in postseason contention. Their playoff hopes ended Thursday night in a 5-3 road loss to the Atlanta Braves.
Philadelphia has now gone one full decade since its last playoff appearance in 2011.
“It stinks,” manager Joe Girardi said after the Phillies came up short on Thursday. “It hurts.”
The Phillies (81-78) will enter Friday night on a four-game losing streak, and they have a losing record on the road (34-44).
Just 1 1/2 games behind the Braves in the National League East after a Saturday victory, Philadelphia hasn’t won since, falling Sunday to the Pittsburgh Pirates and then getting swept in a three-game set at Atlanta.
Phillies right fielder Bryce Harper, a candidate for NL Most Valuable Player, has had a monster year, batting .305 with 40 doubles, one triple, 34 homers, 82 RBIs and 13 steals. However, he went 0-for-11 during the crucial series against the Braves.
“We’ve got to get better — that’s the bottom line,” Girardi said. “We’ve got to break this (playoff drought).”
Meanwhile, the Marlins (65-94) are tied for last place in the NL East with the Washington Nationals. However, Miami has been solid at home this year, going 40-38.
The Marlins will start their ace, right-hander Sandy Alcantara (9-14, 3.09 ERA), in the series opener on Friday. Philadelphia will start left-hander Ranger Suarez (7-5, 1.45 ERA).
In nine career starts against the Phillies, Alcantara is 5-3 with a 2.77 ERA. He is 1-2 with a 2.65 ERA in three games against the Phillies this year.
Alcantara has also shown that he has the endurance to close seasons in a strong fashion. In 29 career September/October games, he has 2.78 ERA.
Suarez, who started the year as a reliever, is 1-1 with a 4.70 ERA in 12 career games (one start) against the Marlins.
This year, Suarez has faced the Marlins six times — including a start — and has posted a 1.50 ERA with no record.
Suarez has been good in both roles in 2021. He is 5-3 with a 1.12 ERA in 27 relief appearances. In 11 starts, he is 2-2 with a 1.69 ERA.
His start against the Marlins came on Sept. 4. In that game, Suarez went five scoreless innings and allowed just two hits and two walks while striking out seven.
The Marlins, who have lost eight of their past nine games, will be without backup infielder Joe Panik this weekend.
“His wife is pregnant,” Marlins manager Don Mattingly said. “Anything further than that, it wouldn’t be my place to talk about.”
The Marlins might also be without right fielder Jesus Sanchez, who injured his right hamstring on Thursday and exited in the third inning in Miami’s 12-3 loss to the New York Mets.
Another storyline on Friday will be the return to Miami of former Marlins catcher J.T. Realmuto, who is hitting .265 with 17 homers with 73 RBIs after homering Thursday. In eight games against Miami this year, Realmuto is batting .265 with one homer and four RBIs.
–Field Level Media