After capping a 5 game win streak by sweeping the Braves on Monday, things went downhill in a hurry. The Phils flew out west and started a series with the Angels that was completely one-sided. Mike Trout and company dominated the first 2 games by a total score of 14-1. Aaron Nola held the Halos in check allowing 2 runs over 5 innings but the offense and bullpen faltered (L, 7-1). The Phils scored in the first inning of game one before being shutout for the next 18 innings before finally scoring 4 runs in the 2nd inning of game 3. Jake Thompson hoped to repeat his previous outing in game 2 (L, 7-0) but came nowhere close as he allowed 7 runs in the 3rd inning alone. The Phils had a shot in game 3 (L, 5-4) of the series before Luis Garcia arrived and did his best Ricky Vaughn impression allowing the go ahead run to score with a wild pitch worthy of the iconic Bob Uecker call. Jerad Eickhoff pitched well allowing 3 runs on 3 hits over 6 innings but Garcia couldn’t hold the lead in the 8th inning resulting in a 5-4 loss and a sweep out of L.A. The Phils moved on to Colorado for a 3 game set and Garcia struck again in game 1 (L, 4-3). After Vince Velasquez pitched another strong 5 innings, Ricardo Pinto and Garcia took over and wasted it again. Pinto allowed the tying run in the 7th and Garcia conceded the go ahead run in the 8th again to take the loss for the 2nd straight night. Game 2 was not as close as the 8-5 score sounds. Nick Pivetta allowed 8 runs in just 2.2 innings of game 2 (L, 8-5). Mark Leiter Jr took over and dominated the Rockies pitching 4.1 innings allowing 2 hits and recording 9 K’s. Leiter became the sixth reliever in major league history to register nine strikeouts without allowing a run or walk. The damage had already been done by that point and Daniel Nava’s 3 run HR in the 8th was too little, too late. The Rockies were 59-0 when leading after 8 innings… until Sunday. Nola pitched another spectacular game in Sunday’s series finale (W, 3-2). After allowing 2 runs in 7 innings, Nola left the game trailing 2-1. Edubray Ramos held the Rockies in check in the 8th allowing for the Phils 2 run 9th inning capped by a double to the gap by Cameron Rupp. Hector Neris got the save and the Phils salvaged a win in the final game of the west coast trip. The 2-5 week was certainly not what the team had hoped for after the 5 game win streak but is what many expected after trading their veterans.
Even after the poor week on the field, the biggest gut punch to the organization came Sunday night with the news of the passing of Darren Daulton. https://www.pattisonave.com/breaking-former-phillies-catcher-darren-daulton-dies/. RIP Dutch!
Cesar Hernandez continued his hot streak with 11 hits and 6 walks but was only able to score 6 times due to a lack of production from the middle of the order. Daniel Nava and Nick Williams continued to hit as well. Aaron Altherr has cooled off dramatically. He had just 3 hits compared to 5 K’s over the course of the week. Cameron Rupp had just 3 hits but had the biggest one of the week on Sunday. Hyun Soo Kim got a lot more playing time than expected in his first full week because of the trip to an AL park. Other than a good eye (5 BB’s), he showed why no one expected him to play much (2-16). It seems like the offense is back where it was earlier in the season where 1 or 2 hitters are hot but the remainder of the lineup is unable to get them across the plate. Hopefully, this week will see a resurgence within the lineup.
Aaron Nola continued to make his case as a actual #1 starter despite his 0-1 record in 2 starts. He allowed just 4 runs in 13 innings but got no run support in his starts. Nick Pivetta rode the roller coaster of pitching. After dominating the Braves on Monday over 6 innings, he was unable to match his effort in Denver allowing 8 runs in less than 3 innings. The biggest losers of he week were Luis Garcia (2 losses in 3 games) and rookie Jesen Therien who has an 11.57 ERA in his first 3 appearances. With less than 2 months to go, he’ll likely continue to get chances to prove himself and earn a spot next year. Hector Neris got 2 saves in the 2 wins and may (hopefully) have righted the ship). There will certainly be bullpen issues the next 2 months without any veteran presence around but it will give the Phils ample opportunity to see just what they have moving forward.
Around the N.L. East
Nationals– The Nats had another mediocre 3-3 week against the Marlins and Cubs but at this point don’t need to go on any significant runs to hold off the teams trailing them. They do need to be more consistent as far as seeding goes as they battle for the 2nd seed in the east. The currently lead the Cubs by 7.5 games although 2 N.L. West teams are closer. Unfortunately for them, they are chasing the Dodgers and will have no shot at the 2 seed. After getting a win against the Marlins to start the week, the Nats lost the next 2. Despite the fact that the Marlins are chasing them in the division and needed the wins (Marlins gained 1 game in the standings), the next series was probably more crucial to the Nats. They moved onto Chicago where they took 2 of 3 and extended their lead in the playoff standings. This week, the Marlins will come into Washington for a 4 game set and will once again look to gain some ground. The Giants will come in for 3 after that to see just how far back they can fall in the West.
Marlins– The fish needed to have a big week. It started fairly well taking 2 of 3 from the Nats but couldn’t hold the momentum as they lost 2 of 3 to the Braves. They currently sit 13 back of the Nats and 10 out of the Wild Card. They’ll get an opportunity to make a move in both standings. They’ll head to Washington for a 4 game set to start the week with hopes of gaining ground on the Nats. The Rockies will come to town for 3 where the Fish will hope to gain ground in the Wild Card. This could be the kind of week that will make or break the Fish with less than 2 months to go.
Braves– After a rough July, August started off much better for the Braves as they jumped back ahead of the Mets. After handing the Dodgers just their 3rd loss since the All Star break and breaking a 9 game win streak in game 2 of their 3 game series, the Braves faced off with Miami for 3 and walked away with 2 more wins. The 3-3 week was a welcome change after going 3-11 since the break. The Braves will have a short week with a 2 game set against he Phils then 3 games against St. Louis. Sitting just 1.5 games behind the Marlins, a good week could help them jump back into the Wild Card race.
Mets– August didn’t start very well for the Mets. They finished their West Coast trip losing 2 of 3 to the Rockies. When they got home, they were rudely welcomed back by the best team in baseball. The Dodgers swept them by a combined score of 21-4 in the 3 game set. The losses allowed the Braves to jump back ahead in the East standings. The Mets will welcome the Rangers into New York for 2 games before heading to Philly for a 4 game weekend series. Both teams will give the Mets ample opportunity to make a push but at this point they have probably conceded any chances at a run.
The Phils get Monday off to head back east. They’ll make a quick trip to Atlanta for 2 before heading home for 4 with the Mets. The offense will need to pick up the pace to where they were a few weeks ago if they intend to make a push to get out of the N.L. cellar. Mark Leiter will get the spot start on Tuesday against Atlanta followed by Jerad Eickhoff on Wednesday. When the Mets come in, it will be Velasquez, Pivetta, Nola and Leiter (for now). With the veterans gone, the last two months are all about auditioning for next year. Beyond Odubel Herrera, there are no guaranteed contracts of any significance for next year so players will need to earn their spots. With 53 games to go, get ready for some extended auditions.