Slumping Phillies brace for MLB’s Nationals series schedule changes, contingencies


CHICAGO — The large speaker that rookie outfielder Matt Vierling has lugged across the country this season at the behest of his veteran teammates has seen it all. The ups, the downs — and everything in between. It has wheels, so it is portable, but it’s powerful enough to fill a spacious room with booming sound.

This whole thing is uncomfortable because it feels too familiar. Nine losses in 12 games. A four-and-a-half-game lead whittled to a half-game. This collapse, if it happens, is nothing compared to the previous Phillies failures in September. This would be far worse. “We can’t let those thoughts creep into the head,” Kyle Schwarber said. So, someone activated the speaker even after a deflating 4-2 loss to the Cubs.

A collection of Bob Marley songs played. Something positive. Soft enough not to misrepresent inflated confidence, but loud enough to prevent the suffocating silence in the Phillies clubhouse.

There is not much to say about these Phillies at 154 games. They cannot find the big hit. They look, at times, overwhelmed and disjointed. It is wrong to suggest all is lost; all the Phillies have done is made this harder than it ever should have been. Maybe that is one last punishment for a decade of mistakes that have compounded into an unmistakable franchise identity.

All that’s at stake in the next week is everything.

Marley played while Schwarber, who is a legend in this city, spoke from his corner of the clubhouse. He has, for months, implored his teammates to embrace the grind.



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