By: Matthew Mack
After blowing the series with the New York Yankees, the Phillies came back home to renew their divisional rivalry with the Atlanta Braves for four games. Coming into the game, Odúbel Herrera was reinstated from the IL, optioning Nick Maton back to AAA Lehigh Valley.
Atlanta came out of the gate swinging and swinging big! They scored six runs to start the game which included a grand slam by Dansby Swanson in the third, and Orlando Arcia solo homer. The Phillies finally woke up when Didi Gregorius hit a triple to start the bottom of the seventh. Following that, Herrera stroked a drive to left center field for an RBI double. Chasing Braves starting pitcher Chad Morton out of the game. Morton was no slouch as he quieted the Phillies bats for the majority of the game, striking out eight in his outing. With the Braves bullpen being just as bad this year, fifth worst in the National League. Philadelphia took advantage as Jean Segura hit a single to score Andrew Knapp. That was all they could muster for the rest of the night. In the ninth Freddie Freeman, with the bases loaded, walked in one more to insure the win for the Braves 7-2 as they gained ground and the Phillies lost ground on the idle New York Mets for first place in the division.
Friday night, the Phillies wasted no time as J.T. Realmuto smashed his 10th home run of the season to start the scoring in the 1st inning. Freedie Freeman, who has not swung and missed at all this month, hit a bloop single to score Ozzie Albies in the third. The Phillies did something with runners in scoring position in the fourth when Segura hit one that hit the tip of third base to score two runs on a double. In the bottom of the fifth, the Phillies became aggressive on the basepath as Rhys Hoskins stole second but in the process, Bryce Harper took home standing up. Both runners were safe as Harper scored to extend the lead, 4-1. The cavalcade of scoring continued in the seventh when Rhys Hoskins slammed a double down the left field line to score Realmuto from first to extend the lead. Zack Wheeler was doing his thing on the hill as he pitched a quality game pitching seven innings with eight K’s while just giving up one run. Archie Bradley and Ranger Suárez closed it out for the Phillies and secured the win, 5-1.
Saturday was a day where things got really out of control. Vince Velasquez is no longer what he was in the past few months. He has turned back into a pumpkin. As he pitched two and a third innings, six runs were surrendered on five hits and two walks. More on the rant later. As for the scoring, get ready. Freeman and Abraham Almonte started the onslaught for the Braves with home runs in the first two innings. In the 3rd, Dansby Swanson hit a RBI double and another Almonte RBI single. 6-0 was the score. Sixth inning Joc Pederson, who was traded from the Cubs, singled to left to score another run. Phillies finally did something when Hoskins doubled, scoring McCutchen. The Braves pimp slapped the Phillies back to whence they came with a three run home run by Albies and a two run bomb by Austin Riley. With a 12-1, the game was way past gone. Even though the Phils put up two runs in the bottom of the 8th, Pederson jacked another one over the fence in the ninth to score three more. 15-3 was the rout.
Sunday afternoon turned into a pitching duel. Nola pitched eight and two-thirds strong innings while striking out nine. On the other side, Braves starter Touki Tossaint pitched a career-high seven innings, striking out ten. All the offense that was needed and provided was home runs by the Phillies provided by Segura and Ronald Torreyes. The only blemish was Riley slamming a solo home run in the ninth with two strikes, two out. Other than that, Nola pitched a gem. Suárez closed the game with the out in the ninth, picking up the save.
The Phillies have a little under a week to get pitching help and fast. The Phillies pitching staff has been leaking oil for quite some time. They need to go longer than 4-5 innings. Going deep into games will save the bullpen for sure. The major question is whether or not the Phillies are buyers or sellers at the trade deadline. The answer is simple: BUY!!! Get pitching help!!! This cannot be ignored any longer. Even though former World Series MVP Cole Hamels held a showcase for teams, it would not hurt to bring him back for a cameo. Problem is the price tag. Outside of that, a quality pitcher that can do deep into games and give the Phils a chance to win. The division will go down to the wire at the end of the season. Dave Dombrowski is open to talks for sure. To be honest, many of the pitchers both in the majors and the minors need to go in the Phillies system and if it is a price to get back into the postseason for the first time since 2011, so be it. Moves must be made and pitching help can no longer be ignored. Stop playing around and get help. It is an emergency here in Philadelphia!!!