The weekend may not have gone as many had hoped but the Phils ended the week 4-2 and have jumped percentage points ahead of the Giants at the bottom of the major league standings. The Phils started the week off by battling back in the late innings and then finishing it off in 15 innings. Hyun Soo Kim came and the rest of the team thought they had walked it off in the 9th before replayed showed that Cesar Hernandez doesn’t know how to slide. Once Kim got redressed and the field crew cleaned up the chewing gum, the Phils conceded the go ahead run in the 10th and things looked bad again until lightning struck…Rhys Lightning (I hate the name too but it worked here alright!). Rhys Hoskins came back in the bottom of the 10th and tied it back up with his 2nd HR of the night. After a few innings of nothingness, Nick Williams came up big with a 2 out RBI double in the 15th for the 9-8 win. Games 2 and 3 were not quite the same type of nail-biter. Aaron Nola and Jake Thompson shut down the Miami offense over the next 2 games. Hoskins homered yet again (17) on Wednesday and Aaron Nola held the GS’s to one run over 7 innings with a career high 11 strikeouts as the Phils won game 2, 8-1. Hoskins hit # 18 on Thursday and Jake Thompson and the bullpen shut out the GS’s 10-0 to finish off the sweep. Thompson only managed to get through 5 1/3 innings but the bullpen shut down the GS’s for 3 2/3 innings to finish it off. Jorge Alfaro, Freddy Galvis and Cam Perkins also homered in the route. Things didn’t go quite as well over the weekend as the offense that scored 27 runs against the GS’s, managed just 8 against the A’s. The Phils managed just 2 hits in a game 1, 4-0. Ben Lively conceded 2 runs in 3 innings before the rain came and caused an extended delay. After the rain ended, the bullpen shut them down the rest of the way while Jorge Alfaro and J.P. Crawford provided the offense to get the Phils the 5-3 win. 6 pitchers pitched the final 6 innings and shut down the A’s until Hector Neris conceded a HR in the 9th but still managed to get the save. Henderson Alvarez got his first MLB start in more than 2 years and pitched well…until the 6th inning. After allowing the first 2 batters to reach base, Mackanin went to the bullpen. It didn’t work. After Edubray Ramos loaded the bases, he unloaded them just as quickly allowing a grand slam to Joey Wendle. The slam turned a 3-2 lead into a 6-3 deficit and ended up being the final score. All in all, it was a 4-2 week for the Phils. The most shocking events of the week was something no one thought humanly possible…the A’s held Rhys Hoskins hitless in the series as he finished the series 0-11 with 1 walk.
This week was truly a tale of 2 series as the offense opened the floodgates against the GS’s but were shut down, for the most part, against Oakland. Nick Williams continued his hot streak going 8-24 with 2 doubles during the week. Despite his tough time against he A’s, Hoskins still managed to reach base 11 times with 4 more HR’s. Maikel Franco, Odubel Herrera, Freddy Galvis and J.P. Crawford each added 7 hits. In addition to Hoskins, the Phils added 5 more HR’s, including 2 from Jorge Alfaro. They added 13 doubles to the mix as well. The majority of the offense happened against the GS’s however so a little more balance would have been nice but we’ll take it. The biggest takeaway was that we’re seeing signs of what this team may be in 2018 but which of the players will be here is the big question.
Nola and Thompson pitched well however the remainder of the rotation left something to be desired allowing 10 runs in 19 innings. The bullpen was the brightest spot of the week once again. In the 6 games, the pen pitched 28 2/3 innings and allowed just 4 runs. Hoby Milner has pitched 21 straight scoreless outings dating back to July. Much like the offense, the pitching staff is coming into view of what the Phils have in the cupboard and where they may need to spend some money (cough, rotation, cough).
Around the N.L. East
Nationals– It wasn’t quite the week that the Nats had hoped for. With the Dodgers recent free fall, the Nats had a chance to gain even more ground against the Braves and the Dodgers themselves. It went down hill quickly as the Braves took the first 2 games of the series by a combined 16-2 score before the Nats took the series finale 5-2. The Dodgers then came to town and once again took the first 2 games, including a 7-0 shutout in game 1. The Braves manged to grab game 3, 7-1 behind Steven Strasburg but all but eliminated themselves from contention for the N.L. regular season title and the #1 seed. With 12 games to go, the Nats sit 6 games behind the Dodgers. The Nats will spend the next 9 games on the road against division opponents. They’ll spend this week in Atlanta for 3 and then head to New York for 3 and hope the Dodgers continue to fall back.
Giancarlo Stanton’s– After leaving Philly on the wrong end of a sweep, things didn’t get much better when they got home. Milwaukee came to town and took 2 of 3 by a combined 20-5 score. The GS’s did manage to get a win in the middle of the series but finished the week being outscored 51-21. Giancarlo Stanton was kept in check all week with just 3 hits and 0 HR’s. Currently sitting at 54, Stanton has 13 games remaining to try to reach 60. The Mets come to town for 3 games before the GS’s head west to take on Arizona.
Braves– After a mostly dominating series in Washington, the Braves returned home without the same punch. While they won game one against the Mets, they were shut down 12-4 over the final 2 games of the series. They’ll get another crack at the Nats this week with 3 games at home. Then the Phils come to town for 3 more where Rhys Hoskins will get another ballpark to try and hit a HR in.
Mets– The Mets went to Chicago and were absolutely lit up. In the 3 game set, the Mets were swept by a combined score of 39-14. Moving to Atlanta had to be a welcome move…until Atlanta took game one and extended their losing streak to 5 games. The Mets managed to win the final 2 games of the series behind some much stronger pitching. They’ll finish their road trip with a 3 game set in Miami before heading home to face off with the Nats.
The Phils welcome Chase Utley and the Dodgers to town for 4 games. The Dodgers are struggling and the Phils have been up and down so this may not be quite the debacle some may have anticipated a few weeks ago. The Phils have a couple opportunities to play spoiler. A good series could drop the Dodgers and give the Nats a chance to gain ground. A bad series could bury the Nats. Whatever happens, hopefully Hoskins homers and Chase plays well. After the Dodgers leave, the Phils will head out for their final road trip of the season, a quick 3 game set in Atlanta.
With just 2 weeks left, the Phils have 2 opportunities. The first is trying to avoid 100 losses, a notion that seemed impossible at the All-Star break. The 2nd, and more important, is to get those last few at bats for the young guys to see just what they have in place for 2018. Players are going to be leaving in the offseason, it’s just a matter of who it’s going to be. With an extremely crowded infield, the Phils management need to make some tough decisions and the players themselves can help them make them.