It wasn't supposed to happen like this. A magical postseason run, with a very real opportunity to advance to the World Series for the second straight year, somehow slipped through the Philadelphia Phillies' fingers and came crashing down around them, their loyal-to-a-fault fans and the city of Philadelphia.
The 2023 postseason saw the Phillies stomp all over the Miami Marlins in a two-game Wild Card Series and then embarrass the Atlanta Braves in a 3-1 NLDS victory before taking a two-game lead over the Arizona Diamondbacks in the NLCS. And it wasn't just a regular two-game lead; it was a showing of force at home in front of the frenzied Phillie faithful against an opponent that looked overmatched and, quite frankly, overwhelmed and in over their heads.
But after dropping two possible clinching games at home and being unceremoniously booted from the MLB playoffs, the Phillies need to take a good hard look at themselves. You know the fans are.
So, who's to blame for the Phillies Game 7 choke job of a 4-2 loss to the Diamondbacks?
Right fielder Nick Castellanos came into the NLCS a man possessed. He absolutely torched the Braves in the NLDS but went colder than ice-cold against the Diamondbacks.
After hitting a solo home run in Game 1 of the NLCS, it looked like Castellanos was going to demolish Arizona from the seven-hole. Things went downhill from there, and rather quickly. He went 0-for-2 in the Phillies 10-0 Game 2 romp and finished the NLCS 1-for-24 — yes, that home run was his only hit in seven games. He slashed a putrid .042/.111/.167 with 11 strikeouts. Yikes.
Game 7 sealed the fate of his horrendous NLCS. He went 0-for-4, with two strikeouts, and missed an opportunity in the fourth inning to put some space between the Phillies and their opponents.
With one out and a run already in, which had the Phillies up 2-1, the beleaguered Castellanos took a fastball up for ball one before whiffing on three straight sweepers from Diamondbacks starter Brandon Pfaadt.
He finished his NLCS with a ground out and fly out to complete his NLCS to forget.