Phillies somehow save series against Braves as playoff push continues

The Phillies can just be crazy.

After breaking into the All-Star Break and riding high from an impressive run by the Marlins—a team the Phils falter against annually—Philadelphia fell to the humble Cubs three in a row and things seemed to be falling off the rails.

However, thanks to powerful shots from the bottom of the order and adequate pitching, the Phillies took a 2-1 series victory against division rival Braves to keep up the pace for the final NL Wild Card spot.

Before we turn the page to the next series, here are a few things we couldn’t help but notice from their three-game flirtation with Atlanta:

• This striped thing must come to an end. It’s just a lot for fans to ride high and then horribly refuse to tune in a few days later.

This is what we mean:

Stripe opponents Perform difference
3 losses (7/22-24) cubs -18
3 wins (7/15-17) marlins +15
4 losses (7/10-13) Blue Jays, Cardinals -13
3 wins (7/7-9) Nationals, Cardinals +5

Prior to the above four series, the Phillies were within seven games of the Mets in the NL East, their closest since May. Catching the Mets is next to impossible, but they had the Wild Card spot in their hands en route to the All-Star break before the Cubs series put them slightly behind the eight-ball.

With the struggling Pirates next on the roll in Pittsburgh for four games starting Thursday, fans are sure to hope the latest streak has already started.

• Is Alec Bohm the Phillies the best hitter right now?

Bohm had seven hits in the series against the Braves, all of which were hit bottom of the ranking. He has a hit streak of 12 games.

“There’s nothing really complicated going on,” Bohm told NBCSP after Wednesday’s win. “The timing is just right and good things are happening.”

He has also become a reliable defender after being terrible in the hot corner last season.

“For me, it’s just trying to contribute in every way possible,” he continued. “If I’m 0-for-4 there, I can change the game on defense. As a baseball player, my spirit has grown a bit.”

Maybe it’s time to be less concerned about his lack of strength (he only has six home runs out of 98 hits this season) and put him somewhere near the top of the rankings where he can potentially do more damage?

• Speaking of doing damage, maybe the Phillies have finally found a homegrown center infielder too. Bryson Stott has been brutally bad at the plate during the stretches this season, but the rookie made a significant contribution against Atlanta this week, driving five of the team’s six runs in their opening win in the series.

In total, he had four basehits in the series and added a walk on Wednesday. His batting average has increased by 10 points since the All-Star break and he has three home runs and 10 RBI in his last 10 games.

With Jean Segura rehabilitating in the minors and nearing his return, it looks like the right move might be to leave Stott at short notice (with Bohm at third base) and have Segura play at second base.

• Aaron Nola looked slow to pitch after nine days of rest in the series’ midgame, but Ranger SuOnrez and Kyle Gibson pitched well enough to hold the Phillies in the first and third games. Stinkers of aces do occur and Nola should settle down once he gets back into his routine.

Zack Wheeler will pitch Thursday, with Bailey Falter, SuOnrez, and then Nola to complete the four-game set against Philly’s in-state rivals. Remember, this team has one of the weakest schedules in all of baseball, and they’ll have to forget their battle against the Cubs from last weekend when they try again this weekend to dominate a lesser opponent.

• The bullpen was fine against the Braves, which is a benchmark they will have to surpass to compete this summer and fall. They each allowed only one point in the first two games and gave up none as Gibson’s replacement in the series finale.

• Speaking of the bullpen, the Phillies series against the Pirates will be the club’s last four games before the trading deadline, as they have a day off next Monday and the deadline is Tuesday afternoon, August 2. probably any scenario could play out in Pittsburgh for the team not to act as a serious buyer by the deadline, but a series win will certainly help justify moves made to improve the pen, rotation and perhaps the outfield while they’re trying to end a postseason drought a decade old.

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