JT Realmuto, Taijuan Walker, Seranthony Dominguez struggle in loss – NBC Sports Philadelphia | Albiseyler

HOLY. LOUIS — Rob Thomson noted last weekend that in order for the Phillies to get where they want to go in 2023, they need Seranthony Dominguez to become one of their best right-handed relievers, a version of himself who dominated in October a year ago.

Dominguez pitched well Tuesday against the Braves and Friday at St. But for the third time in the last five games, Louis allowed a lead or tie on Sunday. Cardinals rookie Jordan Walker got him deep with two outs and nobody on in the bottom of the eighth inning of a game the Phillies lost 6-5.

“It wasn’t one of Sero’s best divers,” catcher JT Realmuto said. “Looking back on it, maybe we could have gone somewhere else. He was obviously ready for the fastball there. The kid’s a good hitter, he gave it a good swing. It’s just a shame it happened there.”

Dominguez had a 1.57 ERA in mid-September a year ago. In the playoffs, he posted a 1.69 ERA with 18 strikeouts in 10⅔ innings. This season has not been as productive. He won seven shutouts with five losses and hasn’t had as many finishes on his pitches as usual since mid-August, with fluctuating strikeouts on his fastball and slider.

That wasn’t the case Friday, when he struck out the first batter he faced before retiring three in a row, two on strikeouts.

“I think his stuff has gotten better,” Realmuto said. “Definitely his slider, his last outing was the best I’ve seen in a couple of months. That was encouraging.”

The Phillies never trailed in their wins on Friday or Saturday, coming back from an early three-run deficit and a late two-run deficit on Sunday. They took advantage of sloppy fielding defense by the Cardinals and scored three in the top of the fourth. Nick Castellanos tied the game with an RBI single in the eighth, an inning that began with Alec Bohm’s 17th home run of the season.

The Phils had another chance to tie or take the lead in the ninth inning when Bohm walked and Bryson Stott singled with one out. Realmuto struck out on three pitches and Johan Rojas flied out to end the game.

Realmuto went 0-for-8 on Saturday and Sunday and is in another slump, 4-for-32 in his last eight games without an extra base hit or walk. He hit just .190 with runners in scoring position after hitting .279 the previous two years.

“If I had the answer, I’d probably fix it,” he said. “Maybe I try to do too much in those situations, expand the zone a little bit. I don’t really have an answer for that.”

“I just haven’t been able to find a groove for a consistent amount of time like I usually do. I’ve been struggling with things back and forth, not really getting into a roll. Hitting is a mentality and confidence thing.” just like anything else and I haven’t been able to find my confidence for a consistent amount of time this year. Confidence comes when you get hit and throw the ball up. Even though I went well at the plate, I had a lot of tough outs.”

And what if he saw the ball at his best in mid-June, during the Phillies’ June road trip to Arizona and Oakland, when Realmuto went on a roll and homered three times in four games? What clicked then?

“I was getting good pitches to hit and I wasn’t missing,” he said. “Right now, when things aren’t going well, it seems like pitchers are hitting their spots, and when they tend to miss one or two at bats, I tend to foul it out. Right now, I’m not When I’m capitalizing on those mistakes, I usually foul them up or they’re I just miss, and then they make some bad luck to get me out of there. I just have to be able to not miss those pitches and be ready when they come, leave it over the heart of the plate.”

Realmuto, like Rhys Hoskins, has a leg kick in his swing. When he goes south, others often cite this as the reason for his struggles. But Realmuto says leg kicking hasn’t been the source of his inconsistency this season — it’s more about plate selection and missing pitches.

“It’s never like that. That’s a media thing,” Realmuto said. “When I’m at my best, my leg kick is usually the highest. My leg kick changes bat to bat, swing to swing. It’s more of a rhythm thing for me. That’s not a problem. I Just need to be more consistent and get the barrel on the ball more often .”

The Phillies also need more consistency from Taijuan Walker heading into the playoffs. Walker completed seven innings Sunday but allowed five runs — three in the third and two in the fifth.

He was mainly touched by two future Hall of Famers St. Louis, Paul Goldschmidt and Nolan Arenado. Goldschmidt hit a two-run double in the third inning, a solo homer in the fifth and narrowly missed a bomb to left in his first at-bat. Arenado doubled in the third and homered in the fifth.

Walker retired the last eight hitters he faced after Arenado’s RBI single as Thomson pushed him through seven innings in an effort to preserve as many important pieces of the bullpen as possible for the upcoming series in Atlanta.

However, the damage has already been done. Walker’s last quality start — at least six innings, no more than three earned runs — came on July 31. Since then, he has a 5.85 ERA in seven starts. The Phillies are 20-9 in his games, but have lost back-to-back games behind him for the first time since the first two weeks of the season.

He was in better control against the Cardinals, striking out 16 and walking just one batter in his previous 26 innings.

“I felt better today,” he said. “That was the game plan, let JT sit in the middle and try to attack the zone as much as possible.

“The numbers don’t look good, five runs, but I felt like I pitched better than it shows and I felt like I got a lot of ground balls today and attacked the zone. That’s what I wanted.”

Walker has 15 wins and excelled in June and July with a 2.58 ERA in 11 starts, but it’s unclear if he would even pitch in the wild-card round for the Phillies. Zack Wheeler, Ranger Suarez and Cristopher Sanchez are throwing the ball more effectively, and Thomson still has faith in Aaron Nolo as a big-game pitcher despite Nolo’s own struggles in September.

“We still have to get there first, we still have to finish well,” Walker said. “But we’ve got so many arms and so many good starters that can fit us and whoever doesn’t, it’s probably going to be good for us.

Despite Sunday’s loss, the Phillies won the series, went 5-1 against the Cardinals this season and hold a three-game lead for the top wild-card spot over the Cubs, who play Sunday night. The Phils also have the tiebreaker over the Cubs, giving them a de facto four-game lead.

Next up is a three-game series in Atlanta. The Braves were swept in Miami over the weekend after winning the NL East in Philadelphia on Wednesday. MVP frontrunner Ronald Acuña Jr. has missed back-to-back games with a calf strain and his status for the series opener will be determined after Monday’s practice.

“We’ve been playing pretty well for the most part and we came back today,” Thomson said of the streak in St. Louis. “We had some lucky breaks there in the fourth, but at least we responded. They got up three, we responded. They went ahead, we responded. We just keep going.”

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