Jimmy Rollins and Co. famously dug out of a 7 game deficit with 17 to go back in 2007 to steal a playoff spot from the Mets. This year the Phils find themselves in a similar situation (6.5 back with 14 to go) but I wouldn’t get your hopes up. After Washington swept them out of their own building, the Phils FINALLY won a series but couldn’t gain ground losing the finale with the Marlins.
Aaron Altherr finally had a good game Friday night (4-5, 2 HR, 5 RBI) and the bats came alive for the night (14 runs on 18 hits). Zach Eflin pitched well (the big lead probably didn’t hurt) going 6.1 innings allowing 1 run on 5 hits. Drew Anderson pitched the final 2.2 innings and the Phils opened the series with a 14-2 Fish Fry.
After Vince Velasquez spotted the Marlins 4 runs in the 2nd, he got the early hook and the Phils hoped for some comeback magic. Justin Bour got 2 runs back in the bottom of the 2nd to cut the lead in half and it was up to the bullpen to keep them in the game. They did just that. While the bullpen held the Marlins scoreless through the final 7 innings (7 pitchers combined), the offense remained mostly stagnant again until Cesar Hernandez came up with 2 on in the 5th and launched a 3 run homer to right to take a 5-4 lead which would ultimately hold up. The win clinched their first series win in over a month but they needed the sweep.
Cesar Hernandez led off the game with a HR and hopes were up that maybe they could do it. Then some guy named Peter O’Brien came up with 2 outs in the 4th sent a ball to the stands in left putting the Fish up 2-1. Then a guy named Bryan Holaday doubled in another run in the 5th. O’Brien knocked in another run in the 6th and the Fish added 2 more in the inning extending their lead to 6-1. Roman Quinn knocked in a run in the 7th and another in the 9th. Hernandez plated another run on a fielding error but the run ended with a Rhys Hoskins strikeout. Phils lose 6-4 and squander another shot.
Well, they scored 4 or more runs 4 times so that’s a plus. They also struck out 59 times in 6 games…that’s not. Mitch Walding finally got his first hit…and it was a HR…off a catcher who was pitching (*). Hoskins had a good week going 7-24 with 4 doubles and his 31st HR. However, that all led to just 3 RBI. Altherr followed his 4-5 with an 0-3 then a 2-2 (2 doubles). The kid is streaky for sure. If not for the big innings, this team would have been sunk yet again but they did get them and Gabe Kapler can continue to justify his (ridiculous) approach to managing.
The starting rotation went just 1-3 in 6 starts and manged to complete just 27.2 innings leaving the rest to the bullpen. Aaron Nola may finally be feeling the pressure as he can’t stop allowing long balls all of a sudden. Jake Arrieta has been consistently inconsistent all year and the 3 other young arms, which Klentak and Co. thought would last all year, haven’t as they’ve all pretty much hit a wall. The bullpen allowed 11 runs in 30 innings of work. After keeping the team afloat the entire first half of the season, the majority of the pitching staff has finally worn down. We’ve seen that there are some young talented arms to build on in the future as long as they don’t have to overuse them due to starting pitching and the Kapler Wheel o’ Pitchers approach.
Around the N.L. East
Braves– The Braves had almost put the final nail in the N.L. East coffin with a sweep in San Fran. Then, after a 10-5 drubbing of the Nats in game 1 of their series, it looked to be over. However, the Nats took the next two giving those die-hard Phils fans that faint glimmer of hope. This is the week that could finally put things to rest or make them real interesting. They’ll start the week with Cardinals who are currently tied with the Dodgers for the 2nd Wild Card spot. Then the Phils come to D.C. for a 4 game set. The Braves can put things to bed with a split while the Phils need a sweep just to stay in the race (assuming they are still in it after the first half of the week).
Nationals– After sweeping the Phils, it looked like the Nats may take over the 2nd spot in the East by the end of the week. A loss to the Cubs didn’t help. A series win against the Braves only matched the Phils so they remain 7.5 out and 1 behind the Phils. This week may give them their opportunity to move ahead though. They’ll play 2 in Miami against the Marlins and then 4 in New York with the Mets. They’ve played much better of late (won 7 of 9) but it’s too late and they’ll head into the offseason soon enough with more questions than answers.
Mets– After winning 3 of 4 against he Marlins, the Mets even gave the Sox a run despite losing 2 of 3. This week they’ll head to Philly for 3 with the Phils and then on to D.C. for 4 with the Nats. They could play spoiler for the Phils or keep the flicker alive.
Marlins– After losing 3 of 4 to the Mets and 2 of 3 to the Phils, they are still in last. Shocking…I know. This week, the Nats come to Miami for 2 then the Reds come in for 4. They’ll still be 20+ games out in a horrible division. That’s not good.
With 2 weeks and 14 games left, it’s pretty straight forward. Sweep all 7 with the Braves and win the other 2 series. Easy, right? Short of the Braves going completely in the tank, that’s about what they need. It all starts with 3 against the Mets at CBP then a trip for 4 in Atlanta. Let’s see if Gabe and the Whiff Kids can keep the candle burning for one more week.