The weather is warm, the ball is flying, Velez’s attack is locked up, and these Nationals have one of the worst major league rosters in recent memory.
Results? Phillies finished the hapless Nats, 13-1, on Sunday afternoon to complete a four-game sweep. The Phils are the 12th best of the season over 0.500 at 60-48 and overtake the Padres (61-50) for second place in the National League.
They also got ground on the Braves, who lost four of five this weekend to the Mets. The Phils are coming in third from Atlanta for the top spot, which is a much more important place than the other two because this team gets their home advantage in all three games of a best-of-three first-round match.
Washington entered the week with the worst home-management difference in National League history, and the Phillies only added to it this week, surpassing the Nats 14-1 this weekend. They got deep four times in the first four innings on Sunday, three times in the fourth round alone. Darrick Hall finished twice, Rhys Hoskins made it to the fourth in a row and Nick Matton sent one to the right-court benches.
Phillies have won five straight games and 10 of 11. They’ve won 39-19 since June 1.
Things are clicking all over the lineup. Hoskins is one of his trademark blazing streaks, Nick Castellanos’ last two weeks have been his best since April, JT Realmuto has shown great strength for about a month, Alec Boom since early July and Hall is swinging over 0.600. Bryson Stott, who went into a multi-hit double to clear the rules after trebling in two on Saturday night, continues to hit the ball hard.
“I looked today and our whole land was locally grown and a lot of produce from them all,” Director Rob Thompson said, referring to Hoskins, Mattoon, Stott and Boom. “It says a lot about the scouting department, the player development department. We’re playing well, everyone else is. We get production from just about everywhere.”
Phillies is 21-13 since breaking Bryce Harper’s thumb in San Diego because the roster isn’t as heavy as it has been in the past three seasons and many other players have moved on. One of them is Aaron Nola, who has won three of his last four games with a 2.39 ERA.
“It’s great, the guys are taking the slack off,” Thompson said of winning without Harper and Segura. “The only way you can look at it is that these guys had a long vacation and we didn’t miss a moment. But when they come back in September and in the playoffs, they’ll be new. So there might have been some benefits to that as well, as it turns out.”
The Phillies face 10-2 against the Nationals and face them seven more times – September 9-11 in Philly and September 30-October. 2 in the capital
Phils’ remaining schedule is one of the easiest seasons in baseball, and unlike past seasons, they’ve won most series they should. They’re off Monday before they host the Marlins, who face the offensive challenge of three. From there, the Phillies play the Mets and Reds on the road in a three-game series, then return home to host the same two clubs in a four-game series.
Of the upcoming 35 matches for Phillies, 28 are against teams with losing records and 25 are against teams with at least 10 matches under 0.500. The only winning team they are set to face between now and September 16th is the Mets.
“I think we’re better equipped,” Thompson said. “Every team is different. I know the last few years we haven’t played well in September, but every team was a little bit different, it wasn’t exactly the same group. This is a different group. There is a lot of leadership at the club and a lot of winners on the field.”
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