The Phils capped off a good week with a rarity. Sunday’s win, they’re 4th of the week, saw the Phils turn a 5-4-3 triple play. It was their first since 2009 and the first ever at Petco Park. That and Jeanmar Gomez’s 29th save sealed the Phils 4th win in 6 games, starting a West Coast trip off on a good note. The Phils could have had an even better week if not for an extra inning loss and a late comeback cut short by more bad base running (I’m talking to you Cesar Hernandez). Unfortunately, the Nationals, also had a big week which did not bode well for the NL East as a whole.
The offense was back on track this week. With the exception of game 3 against the Giants, the offense scored enough runs to win each of the games. In all, they put 38 runs on the board over 6 games. The most surprising thing of the past week has to be the player who had the biggest week. Ryan Howard hit .714 (5-7) over the course of the week with a double and 2 HR’s. Odubel Herrera finally had a big day on Sunday with a 3-5,, 1 HR, 2 RBI day getting his average back up to .285. Cesar Hernandez slowed after a hot start to the week. After a 4 hit game against the Giants on Tuesday, raising his average to .296, he then had just 4 hits in the last 5 games dropping him back to .290. It wasn’t an “up and down the lineup” kind of week but each night, a different group came through. That kind of balance is what this team needs to show more consistently as they run out the remainder of the season.
The Phils bullpen got the decision in all 3 games against San Francisco. The starters got the decisions against San Diego. With the exception of 1 bad pitch from Severino Gonzalez in the 3rd Giants game, the bullpen was pretty solid. As the rotation gets younger (Hello Jake Thompson), the bullpen will need to do more. It’s possible, if not likely, that the Phils could go to a 6 man rotation when rosters expand in a couple weeks. Aaron Nola has already gone on the DL and likely will be shut down for the season, healthy or not. With Thompson being the 3rd minor league starter to make his debut this week, with less than stellar results, Pete Mackanin and Matt Klentak will want to take it easy on some of the young arms, especially after seeing what happened to Nola in his first full season.
Around the N.L. East
Nationals– The Nats had their best week in a while and did it in convincing fashion. After blasting Arizona 32-8 in a 3 game sweep, they took 2 of 3 from San Fran for a 5-1 week and extending their lead over the Marlins to 7 games. The Fish had been creeping up on the Nats slowly and this week allowed the Nats to finally build a cushion. When the pitching and hitting are on the same page, as they were this week, this team is tough to beat. They’ll even get a short week to get some rest. They’ll start the week with a 2 game set against the Indians, then finish with 3 against Atlanta. As hot as they are, this could be another big week to try and extend their lead as the weeks wind down.
Marlins– It was a rough start to the week for the Fish. While the Nats were beating up on the D-backs, the Marlins were being swept by the Cubs. After leaving Chicago, they went into Colorado and managed to take 2 of 3, capped off with a big individual moment. Sunday saw Ichiro finally get his milestone 3000th hit in the majors. He just missed capping it with a HR but settled for a triple. Those wins in Colorado were huge after losing 3 games in the standings. It won’t start easily as they head into San Fran for 3 to start the week, if they can get through that, they head back through Chicago, this time for a 3 game set with the White Sox. After losing 3 games, they can’t afford another slide.
Mets– The Mets didn’t fare much better. Even having an extra game on the schedule during the week, the Mets were unable to make up any ground. After starting the week with a split of a 4 game home and home with the Yankees, they went into Detroit and lost 3 of 3. The extra game helped only in that they ended up losing 2.5 games instead of 3 but they are falling out of the East race quickly. They will head back home this week and have a fairly easy schedule with the 2 bottom teams in the N.L. West coming in. They just might need to win all 6 if they want to get back into the race. Almost anything short of that, may just be the end of the run.
Braves– The Braves were laughing at the Mets and Marlins for once. After losing just a single game in the standings, they got a bit of a chuckle before realizing that the one game loss dropped them to 25 out. The Braves took 2 of 3 from the Pirates at home before heading into St. Louis. After a tough 1-0 loss, they proceeded to pound the Cards in the next 2. They Braves may have a chance to get a couple more W’s early in the week as they head into Milwaukee for 4. After that, they’ll head into Washington for 3 which could make things a little tougher. I’m guessing, they won’t be doing much chuckling.
The Phils will finish their quick West Coast jaunt with 3 against the Dodgers then back home for 3 against the Rockies. That series will be the start of 9 straight at home. With 49 games remaining and less than a month until expanded rosters, the Phils will try to continue the hot streak. Both series are winnable if all 3 phases can come together. All eyes will be on Jame Thompson’s 2nd start on Friday night. Was his first outings just a “Welcome to the Majors” moment or an unfortunate sign of things to come? I’ll put my money on the former but certainly hope he proves it in outing #2.