The Phillies couldn’t have picked a worse time for their longest losing skid of the season, dropping their fifth straight Thursday at Wrigley Field, falling into a tie with Milwaukee for the NL’s third and final Wild Card berth. Finding themselves on the brink of a historic collapse, the slumping Phils can’t afford mental mistakes like the one made by Jean Segura in the second inning, costing his team with an inexplicable base-running blunder.
Rather than track it himself, Segura consulted the stadium scoreboard in center field, where the count mistakenly read 3-1, leading the two-time All-Star to believe teammate Nick Maton had drawn a two-out walk. Segura, who had laced a single to right field moments earlier, then began his trek to second base, moving 90 feet closer to what would have been the Phillies’ first run of the afternoon. By the time Segura came to, surveying his surroundings in a state of terror, pitcher Javier Assad had already signed his death certificate, dumping a bucket of cold water on the Phillies’ two-out rally.
Though Wrigley’s ancient, manually operated scoreboard was the clear culprit, lulling him into a false sense of security, knowing the count is ultimately Segura’s responsibility, and, to a lesser extent, first base coach Paco Figueroa. Mental lapses like these are bound to happen, particularly late in the year when players are running on fumes. However, this team is in no position to be wasting outs, with Segura’s unfortunate brain cramp immediately taking the wind out of Philadelphia’s sails in a game that saw the Phillies produce only six hits, three courtesy of reigning MVP Bryce Harper.
An upcoming series with the last-place Nationals, followed by a trip to Houston, could be just what the doctor ordered (with homefield advantage locked up, the Astros will probably be looking to rest at least some of their starters). But it never should have come to this with the Phillies suddenly in danger of extending their postseason drought to 11 seasons, which would be the longest active dry spell in MLB, assuming Seattle takes care of business by snatching one of the American League’s two remaining Wild Card bids.