The Pain of Victory

The offense sputtered most of the week and the Phils added a few more names to the DL but still managed to come out of the week with a winning record. After a series opening win (6-1) against Atlanta highlighted by the Aaron Nola that seemed to have disappeared lately, the Phils played an afternoon doubleheader on Sunday that they’d rather forget. R.A. Dickey and Julio Teheran shut down both versions of the Phils lineup and swept the doubleheader (9-1 & 5-2). The Phils headed south to Miami and let their pitching take over. Game 1 was the Ben Lively show. Lively pitched 6 strong innings of 2 run ball but more importantly, also knocked in 2 of the 3 Phils runs in securing the 3-2 win. The Phils offense sputtered again on Friday but resulted in another win (2-1). Nick Pivetta had a rough start loading the bases in the 1st and ultimately allowing just 1 run on a wild pitch. It proved to be the only run he’d allow over 6 innings. Meanwhile, the offense remained dormant until the 9th inning when Maikel Franco started the inning with a double. Pedro Florimon followed with a one out walk. Jorge Alfaro tied it with a single and Andres Blanco knocked in the go ahead run on a groundout. Hector Neris closed it out to give the Phils the comeback win. “Bad Aaron Nola” returned on Saturday as the Fish pummeled him for 6 runs on 10 hits in just 5 innings. Ricardo Pinto didn’t give the team much of a chance by allowing 4 runs in relief of Nola. Rhys Hoskins hit a 2R HR and Nick Williams had a 3R triple as part of a 5 run 8th but it wasn’t enough as the Fish held on for a 10-9 win to break their 5 game skid. Beyond another L in the standings, the Phils took a few more hits. Pedro Florimon left the game with a dislocated ankle, Hoskins left after being hit with a pitch in the wrist (x-rays negative) and Jerad Eickhoff was moved to the 60 day DL finishing his season. The Phils didn’t get much offense on Sunday but they did get the 3-1 win before heading out of Miami. Nick Williams hit a 2 run single in the 12th and Neris came in to close it out (although not exactly smoothly). All in all, the Phils ended the week 4-3 but took a few hits along the way.

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Offense

Hoskins continued his torrid pace despite losing his hitting streak on Friday night (but restarting it on Saturday with another HR). Florimon was the only other player who made an impact this week. He upped his hitting streak to 7 games on the play in which he was injured and probably earned himself another long look in the spring. Nick Williams had just 5 hits during the week (in 29 AB’s) but 2 of them were clutch, knocking in a total of 5 runs. Once again, it was the pitching that carried the team. Hoskins, named Rookie of the Month for August, injury status will be closely watched this week as the Phils stay on the road.

Pitching

Eickhoff got roughed up before hitting the DL and Nola split his 2 outings into the good and bad categories. Beyond that, the starters pitched well. The bullpen is what kept the team in every game. Adam Morgan continued his lights out pitching allowing just 2 hits in 5 innings of work (3 on Sunday). In 26 innings of work, only 2 pitchers allowed runs. The Phils even added a veteran arm in Juan Nicasio who wasted no time getting his first win for the Phils in his debut. The pitching has been the brightest non-Hoskins element to the season and has shown signs of potential heading into 2018.

Around the N.L. East

Nationals– Before the Phils did a number on the MGS’s, the Braves swept them out of Washington and out of any slim hopes they had of catching up in the East. After the fish fry, the Nats headed to Milwaukee and things weren’t quite as positive. The Nats scored just 8 runs in the 4 game series and left losing 3 of 4. The Nats will head to Miami to start the week with a 3 game series before heading home for 4 with the Phils.

The Cubs are the closest team (7 back) with a chance to push the Nats out of the 2 seed in the N.L. The Nats showed the first signs of resting and setting up their rotation by announcing Stephen Straburg will be replaced in his next start. This is likely just the start of the moves the team will make over the next few weeks to ensure they are as healthy as possible heading int the playoffs.

Giancarlo Stanton’s– After going 1-5 against the Nats and Phils, the MGS’s eliminated themselves from the East race and took a hit in the Wild Card race as well. With 26 games to go, the GS’s sit 5 games out of the Wild Card race but are chasing multiple teams. They’ll start the week with 3 against Washington before heading to Atlanta for 4. In the 2nd half, they are 3-4 against the Nats and 1-5 against the Braves. That doesn’t bode well unless Stanton goes on another tear soon.

Braves– After taking 2 of 3 from the Phils, the Braves headed to Chicago for 4. After losing the first 3, the Braves managed to avoid the sweep with a win on Sunday. This week, they will stay home to take on a .500 Rangers squad before the GS’s come in for 4. The Braves will be trying to play spoiler and finish off the Fish for good.

Mets– The Mets started the week ┬áin Cincinnati losing 2 of 3. Afterwards, they headed to Houston where they proved to be just what Houston fans and the Astros needed. After delaying Friday’s game, the Astros swept a doubleheader on Saturday and completed the sweep on Sunday. After the 1-5 week, the Mets head home for 3 games with the Phils followed by 4 with the Reds. The Reds series is the first of 2 non-division series remaining (Cubs next week) for the Mets this season. After that, it is all N.L. East, all the time as the Phils and Mets battle for the basement.

After 3 in New York, the Phils will head to Washington for 4. After the road trip, the Phils will play just 3 more on the road as they’ll spend the majority of September at home. As has been the case for the last few months, the Phils are pretty much in audition mode for 2018. As the last few weeks wind down, the most interesting development will be who still gets called up (J.P. Crawford, anyone?) and how Pete Mackanin uses them. Hang on tight, we’re finally coming in for a landing.

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