PHILADELPHIA – Gabe Kapler took the fall for the Philadelphia Phillies.

He was fired Thursday, nearly two weeks after a disappointing finish to a season of big expectations highlighted by Bryce Harper’s arrival.

Kapler went 161-163 in two years, his team unable to deliver following its offseason spending spree. Philadelphia finished 81-81, its first nonlosing season since 2012.

“Several years ago, I promised our loyal fans that I would do everything in my power to bring a world championship team to our city. I will never waver from that commitment,” Phillies managing partner John Middleton said in a statement.

“I have decided that some changes are necessary to achieve our ultimate objective. Consequently, we will replace our manager. I am indebted to Gabe for the steadfast effort, energy and enthusiasm that he brought to our club, and we are unquestionably a better team and organization as a result of his contributions.”

The Phillies were only two games behind in the NL wild-card standings after beating Atlanta on Sept. 18 but lost eight of the next nine, including a five-game sweep at Washington. They finished eight games behind Milwaukee for the second wild card and 16 behind the first-place Braves in the NL East.

Last year, the Phillies had a one-game lead in the division on Aug. 11 before going 15-31 the rest of the way.

“When we hired Kap, it was our goal to develop a positive, forward-thinking and collaborative culture throughout the organization that would allow us to compete with the best teams in the league year in and year out,” general manager Matt Klentak said. “While we have fallen short in the win column for the last two years, I can confidently say that Kap’s efforts have established a strong and sustainable foundation for this organization moving forward.”

He added that in the coming weeks the baseball operations department will try to “find the right individual to build upon the existing foundation and bring a championship home to Philadelphia.”

The Phillies are the eighth team changing managers among the 20 that failed to reach the postseason. San Francisco’s Bruce Bochy and Kansas City’s Ned Yost retired. San Diego’s Andy Green, Pittsburgh’s Clint Hurdle, the New York Mets’ Mickey Callaway and the Los Angeles Angels’ Brad Ausmus were fired. The Chicago Cubs and Joe Maddon jointly said he would to leave.

Copyright 2019 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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