Phillies fans have a lot to be excited about this year, as the team looks set to break a decade-long playoff drought. The Phils have been riding high ever since Joe Girardi was fired months ago, and have played their way into a wildcard spot. Despite all the good vibes, they had a weekend to forget in Atlanta, getting swept by the Braves.
The Phillies have performed admirably for the most part against quality competition this year, winning season series against both the Dodgers and Cardinals. However, they went only 5-14 against the division rival Mets, and look completely helpless against the Braves as well. They came into this weekend’s three-game set with a 6-6 record against the Braves, but now find themselves at 6-9 with four more against the Braves in Philadelphia this week.
Friday night started out well, as Ranger Suárez held the Braves to one run over 6.0 innings, and the Phillies held a 2-1 lead for most of the night. However, the normally reliable Seranthony Domínguez imploded in the eighth, and the Phils fell on their faces 7-2. Saturday night wasn’t quite as pathetic, but Jake Odorizzi and the Braves’ bullpen held the Phils to only three runs, edging out our boys 4-3. And on Sunday the Phillies couldn’t get anything going against Rookie of the Year contender Spencer Strider, losing 5-2 in a noncompetitive game.
It’s another wake up call for a Phillies team that has already realized they can’t hang with the Mets, and now looks destined to have four more tough games with the Braves later this week. Despite all of the Phillies’ heroics this season, they still aren’t one of the top two teams in their own division.
Sunday’s loss not only caps off a disappointing series, but also drops the Phillies below the Padres into the third and final wildcard spot. While they still hold a 2.0 game lead and a tiebreaker over the Milwaukee Brewers, the Phillies’ playoff spot isn’t completely locked up just yet.
On the bright side, if the Phils stay in the third wildcard spot they’ll match up with the Cardinals in the first round of the playoffs, instead of the Mets or Braves, which seems to be a much more manageable proposition. However, for a team that wants to give a downtrodden fanbase something to root for, they sure aren’t steamrolling their way into October.