The Philadelphia Phillies continue to careen in the wrong direction.
With 36 games remaining and five games behind the Atlanta Braves in the National League East, the Phillies are in danger of missing the postseason again.
They haven’t reached the playoffs since 2011.
A 7-4 loss to the Tampa Bay Rays on Wednesday to complete a two-game sweep sent the Phillies back to .500 at 63-63.
The Phillies will open a four-game home series against the struggling Arizona Diamondbacks on Thursday night. But not long ago, the Phillies traveled to Phoenix and were swept in a three-game series.
“As a team, we’ve just got to do better, and we’ve got to do it right now,” Bryce Harper said.
Harper hit a two-run home run and Rhys Hoskins added a solo homer Wednesday. But Hoskins clearly labored through the game with a sore groin, and his availability has to be in question on an everyday basis.
Phillies manager Joe Girardi said Hoskins likely wouldn’t be in the lineup Thursday.
“He’s giving everything he’s got,” Girardi said. “I give Rhys a ton of credit. He’s really gutting through this.”
Hoskins’ tying homer was proof of that.
“He’s definitely important to our lineup,” Harper said of Hoskins. “When we have him in our lineup, we’ve got the extra thump that we need. He provides that. He gives us another right-handed bat in our lineup that hits for power, gets on base — the whole thing that Rhys does out there.
“When he’s available, it’s always really good for us. And when he’s not, it kind of puts us a little bit down, without another guy that really brings some thump to the lineup.”
Right-hander Zach Eflin (4-7, 4.17 ERA), who has been out since July 16 with knee tendinitis, is scheduled to start for the Phillies. Eflin is 0-2 with a 3.38 ERA in four career games (three starts) against the Diamondbacks.
The Diamondbacks won a rare game Wednesday with a 5-2 victory over the Pittsburgh Pirates. Still, the Diamondbacks enter this series with a 43-85 record.
“I do have certain expectations, and I think they’re met in different ways at different times, but you’re judged by winning baseball games,” Arizona manager Torey Lovullo said. “And unfortunately, we’re not.”
The Diamondbacks are emulating their manager with hard work and effort. For instance, David Peralta made a sensational catch in Tuesday’s loss to the Pirates as he crashed into the left-center-field wall.
“David is a gamer, he’s a team player, he made a great play,” Lovullo said. “And I just think all of our guys are doing that. I think they’re totally committed. I think they prepare the best that they can to go out there and make those types of plays. And their effort is always what I’m looking for.”
Arizona will send right-hander Zac Gallen to the mound to maintain its positive momentum against the Phillies. Gallen (1-7, 4.59 ERA) is 1-0 with a 0.00 ERA in one career start against the Phillies, a five-inning scoreless performance in 2019.
Judging by the most recent series against the Phillies, the Diamondbacks certainly are capable of stringing together victories.
“I’m always going to be frustrated when we lose baseball games,” Lovullo said. “And I’ll never accept losing, and I don’t think this team does, either.”
–Field Level Media