The Philadelphia Phillies were proving all of the doubters wrong. They were ahead in a division that they had arguably the 4th best chance of winning in the beginning of the season. Unfortunately, the month of August has hit the Phillies, and their flaws are shining more than their young talent. Since their four game series sweep of the Miami Marlins in the first weekend of the month, the Phillies are 7-13, and are slowly falling out of a playoff race that they were fully in just a couple of weeks ago.
The loss last night to start a home series against the Washington Nationals really summed up the Phillies’ recent slide. The Phillies gave up two early runs, but fought back to tie the game in the bottom of the third inning. It all came crashing down in the 4th inning though, with the bases loaded and two outs with pitcher Stephen Strasburg up to bat. Strasburg surprisingly laid down a bunt with two outs, and pitcher Zach Eflin threw the ball over catcher Wilson Ramos’ head scoring a run. Next batter, Trea Turner lofted a fly ball to left field, which was misplayed by Rhys Hoskins and landed right in front of him scoring another run. Each team tacked on another run, resulting in a 5-3 loss.
Despite being a little different as a manager, Gabe Kapler has done a great job of keeping the team together and the success has shown despite the recent slide. When Kapler was asked on the local radio about the mindset of the team and how to bounce back from a rough patch, he said, “Every MLB team that I’ve ever been around, been on, or been involved with has had losing stretches. It’s which team can respond best to adversity that separates them from the pack.”
It’s time to respond. The Phillies are not out of the playoff race quite yet, and they have just enough time to turn it around. With 31 games to go, the Phillies currently sit 3.5 games back of the red-hot Atlanta Braves in the NL East. However, they have seven games left against each other which gives the Phillies ample opportunity to make up some ground on the division leaders. They also have a shot in the wild card, as they are 2.5 games back of the second spot Milwaukee Brewers and only one team in the Colorado Rockies between the them who sit 1.5 back of the second spot. However, for them to make up some ground, they really are going to have to flip the switch at the plate, on the mound, and in the field. After what was such a fantastic start to the season, it would be a shame for this team and this city to not have some playoff baseball.