In a week where the Phils really needed to go at least 4-2, they instead reversed that into a 2-4 week and have essentially written themselves out of the playoffs. After a surprising split with the Braves, the Red Sox came into CBP and put all playoff hopes to rest for good.
Aaron Nola finally returned to Aaron Nola form but it wasn’t enough as the offense took the night off. After allowing just 1 run (RBI double in the top of the 7th) in 7 innings, the Phils scratched out the tying run in the bottom of the 7th on a Maikel Franco bases loaded walk. The Phils threatened again in the 8th putting 2 men on with 1 out but Rhys Hoskins and Scott Kingery both flied out to end it. Hector Neris came on in the 9th and crapped the bed. After allowing singles to the first 2 batters he faced, Jean Segura caught a bullet of a line drive for the first out. Neris walked the next batter to load the bases before Andrew Benintendi hit a sac fly to give the Sox the lead for good as the Phils were unable to cash in on a leadoff walk in the bottom of the 9th and the Sox took the opener, 2-1.
Ho hum! Jason Vargas got tagged for 5 runs in 3 innings and the Red Sox returned the favor the Phils with a 6-3 win. The Sox got on the board in the first before Hoskins tied it with a HR in the 2nd. In the 3rd, everything unraveled for Vargas as he loaded the bases before conceding a grand slam to Christian Vazquez. After that, the Phils tried to play catch-up but were ultimately unsuccessful. The 2-1 loss buried the Phils at 4.5 games back in the WC race and barring a last minute winning streak and an epic collapse by the Cubs, Brewers and Mets, they are officially done.
The Phils scored 15 runs in their 2 wins over the Braves…they scored 7 in their 4 losses. Rhys Hoskins got back on track (too little, too late) hitting .304 with 3 doubles and a HR. He only had 1 RBI but that was mostly due to the fact that Cesar Hernandez was the only other player who managed to get on base consistently, hitting .400 with 2 HR. The injury bug struck again as Corey Dickerson came up lame, after going 3-11 with 3 HR in the Braves series taking one of their best bats out of the lineup for the rest of the week. Once again, inconsistency was the name of the game. From night to night, this team has been unable to put a balanced offense together since May and that will ultimately be their undoing.
The starters were not good outside of Nola’s Sunday outing. The bullpen, despite being overused as usual (the starters provided just 26.2 innings in 6 starts…13 by Nola) were relatively solid. Nick Pivetta pitched just 1 ineffective inning (2 H, 1 BB, 3R). Hector Neris recorded 2 saves but coughed up a game in his 3rd outing. Overall, it was not a banner week…not that there have been many of those in the 2nd half.
Around the N.L. East
Braves– After their split with the Phils, the Braves traveled down I-95 and took 2 of 3 from the Nationals. This week, they get to go home for the week and with 6 games against the Phils and Giants, they’ll look to make a run at the Dodgers (currently 4 games back). With a commanding lead, they can also start to potentially rest some arms and set up their playoff rotation.
Nationals– The Nats went to Minnesota and took 2 of 3 while the Braves were splitting their series with the Phils. While their chances at the division were minimal, they were hoping to make a dent with the Braves coming to town but instead dropped 2 of 3. this week, they head back on the road for 3 in St. Louis and 3 in Miami. While they are done in the division, they still need to win to hold their 1.5 game lead (2.5 ahead of 3rd place) in the Wild Card race.
Mets– Arizona came into New York and the Mets swept them to knock them out of the WC chase. The Dodgers did not roll over as easily though and took 2 of 3 to essentially knock the Mets out as well. Sitting 4 back of the 2nd spot, they will need to get hot in the last 2 weeks. That starts with a road trip to Colorado for 3 with the Rockies and then 3 in Cincy on the way back home. They are still alive but they need to have a winning week this week to avoid having the life support removed.
Marlins– Surprise! They lost a lot of games. The Brewers came to Miami and swept a 4 game series. Then, the Fish flew out west to face the Giants where they lost 2 of 3. This week, they stop in Arizona for 3 on the way home where they’ll face the Nats for 3. Hey…at least they aren’t the Orioles.
3 in Atlanta and 3 in Cleveland. I don’t foresee things going too well this week. Vince Velasquez, Zach Eflin and Nola will make the starts against the Braves where Dallas Keuchel will get another chance to laugh in Matt Klentak’s face. Drew Smyly, Vargas and Velasquez will do the duty in Cleveland.
As the final 2 weeks roll on, can/will the Phils show some heart and make 1 final push? It’s pretty unlikely but we’re going to watch and hope…at least for the next week. If they aren’t able to make a run this week, the attention will turn to Matt Klentak and Co. and the major work in store for the offseason (pitching, wrapping up Realmuto, and a few more decisions). Let’s hope we don’t have to deal with that just yet.