This week felt like a week where the Phillies could make up ground in the division and the wildcard races. Playing bottom dwellers like the Orioles and Pirates would be a welcome sight on the schedule. However, the Phillies play their worst baseball against the worst teams.
Just ask the Diamondbacks.
Needing a win to take the series two games to one, the Phillies squeaked by with a 4-3 win in South Philly. There was drama all the way to the last out, a deep flyout to right field off the bat of Ryan Mountcastle. It was poetic that Bryce Harper caught the last out, as only God knows where this team would be without him.
Last night, MV3 went 1-2 with two walks, but he still found a way to help the team win. Just not with his bat.
With two outs in the top of the 8th and a man on second, Pat Valaika hit a single to right field. Fielding it like a second baseman, Harper came up firing. With a 89.2 mph throw, he hit JT Realmuto on the fly to nab the runner at home. With C Pedro Severino running, an accurate throw was probably going to nail him. Not only was it an accurate throw, it was an absolute missile. Nabbing the would be tying run at the plate was huge, especially considering the state of the bullpen last night.
With the game before being a bullpen game, most of the pitchers in the bullpen weren’t available. You could see that when Ramon Rosso was warming up with runners on first and second in the top of the ninth. As ugly as it may have been, the Phillies ending up on top in a must win game.
Taking two of three from the Orioles was a start, but the week is just getting started. Before the past series, I believed that the Phillies had to go 6-1 this week to have a chance. There is still a chance they can do that, but they need to sweep Pittsburgh. This is the kind of pressure that comes about after losing four straight to Arizona.
The margin for error is almost nonexistent, and I am sure that the players on the team know that. With the recent 11 game win streak by St. Louis, it looks like the NL East is the only way into the playoffs. However, Atlanta seems to have gotten hot at exactly the right time, winning four straight.
The Phillies have ten games left in the season, three of which come against the team they are chasing. Keeping the deficit in the division at three or less is crucial for the Phillies’ chances. With the upcoming series against the Pirates, the Phillies should have every opportunity to do that.
That is, if they don’t play down to their competition.
As the wonderful Jonny Heller pointed out, the Phillies have little wiggle room if they want to catch the Braves. The Braves are 3-0 since he tweeted that out, and with another game against Arizona, should get to 4-0.
However, they can’t focus on what the Braves are doing. They need to take care of their own business, one game at a time. That is the only way they will find a way to the postseason. Ideally they sweep the Braves and find the easy way in.
But, if the last week and a half is anything like the previous 152 games, there is no easy way.
Fasten your seatbelts, Phillies fans. We are coming in for a landing one way or another.
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