Division race heating as Phils win another set

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MLB.com 18 July, 2021 - 04:57pm

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Phillies fans at Citizens Bank Park cheered when the Mets made a ghastly play to give Pittsburgh a six-run, first-inning lead. It felt a little -- just a little -- like the final game of 2007, when Phillies fans stood and roared 20 minutes before first pitch as the out-of-town scoreboard in right field showed Miami taking a commanding first-inning lead over the Mets at Shea Stadium. The Phillies later beat the Nationals to clinch their first division title since 1993.

Box score

The Phillies’ 7-4 victory over the Marlins in Sunday’s series finale kept them two games behind the Mets in the National League East.

“This is kind of what we envisioned for our team, so it’s kind of been a lot of fun to get together and get into a groove,” Realmuto said. “Winning all these series in a row, that’s how you get to the postseason, so we just have to keep it up.”

The Phillies are making things interesting as the July 30 Trade Deadline approaches. They are 10-4 (.714) this month, which is tied with the Dodgers for the best record in baseball. They have won four consecutive series for the first time since 2018. Meanwhile, the Mets look vulnerable. They placed ace Jacob deGrom on the 10-day injured list on Sunday because of tightness in his right forearm. They placed shortstop Francisco Lindor on the IL on Saturday because of a strained oblique. There are no timetables for either player’s return.

The Phillies are mostly healthy and have a very favorable schedule the rest of the way. Entering Sunday, according to FanGraphs, their remaining opponents had a combined .487 winning percentage, which gives them the easiest remaining schedule in the division and the third-easiest remaining schedule in the NL. Mets opponents have a .507 winning percentage, which gives them the fourth-most difficult schedule in the league.

“We’ve got to prove that we can win,” Phillies ace Zack Wheeler said. “It’s as simple as that. They’re not going to buy if we’re not consistent. To be able to go out there and win some games and show that we’re serious and show the front office that we’re serious, that definitely helps.”

The Phillies took a 2-0 lead in the second inning in the series finale, but Wheeler allowed four runs in the third when Marlins pitcher Braxton Garrett keyed a rally with a one-out single to right and Adam Duvall hit a two-out, two-run homer to hand Miami a 4-2 lead.

The Phillies battled back. Andrew McCutchen and Didi Gregorius each hit solo homers in the fifth to tie the game at 4. Pinch-hitters Travis Jankowski and Brad Miller hit back-to-back singles to start the sixth. Jean Segura’s sacrifice fly and McCutchen’s fielder’s choice scored both runners to give the Phillies the lead.

Héctor Neris, who pitched two scoreless innings in Saturday’s suspended game, pitched a scoreless ninth to earn the save.

“We have a team that can get on these streaks of playing good, consistent baseball,” McCutchen said. “Staying in the game no matter what the score is. Just keeping it close. We have the team that regardless if we're down, we have a team that can score runs. We showed that today. We felt like we're in that game the entire time even when we were down by a couple of runs.”

The Mets came back to beat the Pirates at PNC Park, 7-6. It gave them a little breathing room entering the week.

But the Phillies can keep the heat on New York. And the better they play, the Phillies' front office might be more willing to pull the trigger on a trade or two to help them before the Trade Deadline.

“Hopefully we’re making the right case,” Realmuto said. “We’d like to not have made the case this late. We’d like to have played a little better earlier in the season, but now that we’ve got everybody back on the field and playing well, we’re doing all we can to convince them to go out and get what we need, and [that] we’re here to compete and get to the postseason. So we just have to keep playing well and keep winning series and put the pressure on them to get us some help.”

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Phillies win series vs. Marlins and inch closer to vulnerable Mets

NBC Sports 31 December, 1969 - 06:00pm

The Phils won both games Sunday against the Marlins, moving to 47-45 and two games back in the NL East of the Mets, who overcame a six-run deficit to beat the Pirates.

It is the closest the Phillies have been to first place since May 19, and the 7-4 victory ended a stretch of five straight series against the Marlins without a series win.

"It’s a big day for us because we want to keep the momentum going," manager Joe Girardi said. "I believe we have 12 out of 14 games at home, it’s important that we take care of our business and not look ahead."

The day began with a walk-off home run from J.T. Realmuto, 14 minutes into the resumption of Saturday night’s suspended game. 

The Phillies felt great heading into Game 2 with their ace, Zack Wheeler, on the mound against a team he'd dominated twice in a row to the tune of one earned run in 14 innings.

The Phils jumped out to an early two-run lead before Wheeler had his worst inning of the season in the third. With one out, Wheeler allowed a single, a single, a double, a hard-hit sacrifice fly, a two-run homer and another single before getting out of it.

All of the balls were well-struck as the Marlins took a two-run lead and had Wheeler on the ropes. He rebounded to finish six innings and wasn’t scored upon the rest of the way, keeping the Phils in the game to tie it in the fifth and go ahead in the sixth.

With the Phillies trailing by two in the fifth, Andrew McCutchen hit his 16th homer of the season and Didi Gregorius followed two batters later with his eighth. 

The Phils went ahead in the sixth when Travis Jankowski and Brad Miller hit pinch-hit singles to put runners on the corners and Jean Segura followed with a line drive sac fly to center. Insurance was added when McCutchen beat out a double-play ball to score another run.

Realmuto singled in the final run in the eighth after Jankowski bunted his way aboard, stole second and advanced to third on a sacrifice bunt. Small ball at its best.

Jankowski continues to play surprisingly well offensively and is hitting .375 through 60 plate appearances.

"It always takes at least 26 guys and it usually takes a lot more than that," Girardi said. "You look at what Janko has done since Odubel (Herrera) went down, some of the big games Miller has had. We need it from everyone. Two or three guys can’t do this by themselves."

Herrera will begin a minor-league rehab assignment on Tuesday.

There was a scare in the eighth inning when the Marlins loaded the bases with two outs against Connor Brogdon, but impressive young lefty Bailey Falter struck out Monte Harrison on a high, 93 mph fastball to end the threat. Realmuto referred to it as the biggest moment in the game.

Hector Neris picked up the save. Ranger Suarez appeared in games Friday and Saturday and Girardi does not use relievers three days in a row.

Neris has pitched six scoreless innings and put two men on base since his meltdown against the Padres just before the All-Star break.

"He's been throwing the ball pretty well for the last 10 days," Girardi said. "He’s kinda righted the ship, got himself on a roll and it’s really helpful."

The last two weeks have certainly been the best of the Phillies' season. They've won four straight series over the Padres, Cubs, Red Sox and Marlins. They are 10-4 in the month of July with an off day coming Monday, then a two-game series in New York against a scuffling Yankees team. They roll into the July 30 trade deadline with back-to-back four-game series at home against the Braves and Nationals.

“We’ve got to prove that we can win. It’s as simple as that,” Wheeler said. “They’re not going to buy if we’re not consistent. To be able to go out there and win some games and show that we’re serious and show the front office that we’re serious, that definitely helps.”

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