With 43 games left to play, the Philadelphia Phillies are just 6.5 games out of a National League Wild Card spot.
And to make things more intriguing, the two teams they are chasing just so happen to be coming to Citizens Bank Park for the next six games.
For the first time in a long time, the Phillies find themselves playing something resembling meaningful baseball games in their home ballpark– an occurrence that not many experts or fans foresaw heading into this season.
The Phil’s recent surge has been fueled by their offense, which has produced the second-most runs (74) in the month of August among NL teams and has averaged just over six runs per game. While the pitching hasn’t been stellar (5.53 ERA in August), the Phillies have been able to out-slug their opponents en route to an 8-4 record through 12 August games.
On the flip side, the Cardinals (6-7) and Dodgers (6-6) have both struggled in August, allowing the Phils to claw their way back into the mix. The Phillies are catching both clubs at a good time and have a chance to gain some serious ground.
Their first crack comes tonight against Chase Utley and the Dodgers, who took two of three against the Phillies last week in Los Angeles. The Phils will look to exact revenge and, in the process, help themselves inch closer to a wild card spot.
The ailing Cardinals come into town starting Friday night without two of their biggest bats as sluggers Matt Holliday and Matt Adams are both on the disabled list. The Cardinals will also be without their rookie shortstop Aledmys Diaz, who was a serious candidate for NL Rookie of the Year before being placed on the DL with a fractured right thumb.
If the Phillies are able to take care of business this week, they’ll be faced with even more opportunities to play against teams that are in front of them in the wild card standings. 20 of their games following these two series will come against the Mets, Marlins and Pirates—the other three teams between them and a playoff spot.
Do you believe in miracles?