The best thing about a 5 game week is that even a kinda bad week doesn’t look that bad. All in all, 2-3 doesn’t sound horrible, right? OK, I’m doing my best to fish for silver linings as the season winds down. After splitting a 2 game set with the White Sox, the Phils went into New York and got pounded for 2 games before stealing a game on Sunday. With 32 games to go on the schedule, the Phils are 15 out in the division and 8.5 back in the Wild Card. We have a word for that…DONE! Seeing as 20 of the remaining 32 games are against the Nats, Marlins and Mets, the Phils have 2 goals for the remainder of the season: check out some of the young talent and spoil everyone else’s playoff chances.
When you play 5 games and score 1 run in 3 of them, your chances aren’t that good. There were not a lot of bright spots to highlight this week. Outside of a few long balls on Wednesday (Cesar Hernandez and Tommy Joseph) and 1 big inning on Sunday, including an RBI single by the newest Phillie A.J. Ellis, there isn’t a lot that happened this week.
When you play 5 games and give up at least 9 runs 3 times, your chances aren’t that good. In one of the more confusing moves of the week, Jerad Eickhoff was cruising through the White Sox lineup on Wednesday before Pete Mackanin decided, 6 innings and just 71 pitches was enough. After giving up a HR in the 6th inning, Mackanin didn’t want to revisit any of his earlier outings where his ERA tends to explode after the 6th. So, between that and the thought of making sure he’d make it through the season, the bullpen took over and cleaned up the final 3 innings. Sunday’s win saw the only other notable outing as Vince Velasquez shut down the Mets but required 103 pitches just to get through the 5th inning. 4 pitchers then finished up the last 4 innings conceding just 2 hits. After getting pounded by the Mets, let’s hope they look a lot better in their remaining meetings.
Around the N.L. East
Nationals– After losing 3 of 4 to the Orioles and 2 of 3 to the Rockies, the Nats have to be thankful for the cushion they’ve built up. Both the Marlins and Mets were able to gain some ground. The pitching was the biggest culprit as they conceded nearly 6 runs per game over the course of the week. After 9 games on the road, the Nats got to play 5 at home this week and now they head back on the road. They’ll start with 3 games at Citizens bank Park before heading 90 miles north to take on the Mets for 3 more. A sweep in New York could finally wipe the Mets out of contention but if they lose 2 or 3, things could stay interesting for a little while longer.
Marlins– With the Nats struggling, this was an opportunity for the Marlins to gain ground. They did that but not as much as they like. They lost 2 of 3 to both the Royals and Padres and were only able to gain 1 game on the Nats. At 8 games back, 2-win weeks will not get them back into the division race. Things don’t start easy for them as they head into New York for a 4 game set with the Mets to start the week. The Mets are just 1 game behind the Fish and closing fast. If they can get out of New York in good shape, they get to take on the A.L. Central-leading Indians. This is going to be a really tough week for the Marlins and should give a really good indication of whether they can stay in the race the rest of the way.
Mets– Of the 3 teams in the race, the Mets were the only ones who took care of business. The Mets battered the Cards and Phils to win 2 of 3 in each series. The wins helped them gain 3.5 games on the Nats and get back to 9 games out. They are also just 2.5 out of the Wild Card. With 3 each against the Marlins and Nationals this week, this could be a make or break week for the Mets. They could jump up or fall out of the east race but barring a total free fall, they may still be able to stay in the Wild Card race.
Braves– Yup, they’re still playing. With 7 games out west against the D-backs and Giants, it looked like the Braves could have eclipsed the 30 games back. Instead, the Nats faltered and the Braves kept playing. after a 2-2 split with the D-backs, they did lose 2 of 3 to the Giants but overall, gained 2 games on the Nats. As they close out August and head into September, they’ll face 2 teams who may allow them to avoid that ugly 30 games back threshold. First, the Padres come into Atlanta for 3 then the Braves head back on the road with 3 against the Phils. The biggest question is whether they really want to keep winning games as they battle the Twins for draft position next summer.
The Phils will get to hang out at home this week but if the Nats come into town and beat them up, it won’t be all that comfy. After their 3 game set, the Braves come into town for what should seem like a much easier task. We’ve seen often this season that look s can be quite deceiving though. The biggest day of the week is Thursday. Despite being an off day, as September rolls in and the call-ups begin. While they may be delayed due to the R-Phils and Iron Pigs likely playoff runs, the opportunity to see some young faces in September will be a nice glimpse towards the future.