The Philadelphia Phillies returned home Monday to begin a seven-game stretch against two of the worst teams in the majors.
As they have done several times this season, they stumbled and didn’t take advantage on Monday night.
The Phillies fell three games behind the first-place Atlanta Braves in the National League East by losing 2-0 to the 48-win Baltimore Orioles on Monday.
Philadelphia (76-74) will look to rebound when it hosts the Orioles Tuesday in the second of a three-game series before the Pittsburgh Pirates, who are buried in last place in the NL Central, hit town for a four-game series.
“It’s not how you want to start the homestand,” Phillies manager Joe Girardi said. “We gotta turn it around (Tuesday), and let’s see what happens the rest of the week.”
The Phillies have scuffled against bad teams such as the Arizona Diamondbacks and Miami Marlins when they needed a crucial win. Tuesday’s game looms as even more vital.
“It’s all hands on deck right now,” Brad Miller said. “Obviously, you are talking about making the playoffs, which not many teams get to do. You have to strike in all facets of the game.”
The Phillies haven’t reached the postseason since 2011.
If they hope to take a step closer, they’ll need a strong effort from the bullpen. Tuesday’s game has been deemed a bullpen start by both teams, which means each team could call on six to seven relievers.
Bryce Harper, the Phillies’ star outfielder and NL Most Valuable Player candidate, remained calm despite the tough loss.
“We are going to take it game by game,” Harper said. “We really understand what we are doing as a team — score runs, don’t take anything for granted. Pitch well, play well and just go from there.”
The Orioles (48-102) still have 12 games left to try to spoil the playoff hopes of teams such as the Phillies.
In the series opener, the Orioles looked like the team chasing a postseason berth thanks to a consistent performance in all areas.
“A huge amount of our team hasn’t played too much time in the majors,” Trey Mancini said. “So these September games, the teams we’re competing with basically the rest of the way, and have been this month, are fighting for a playoff spot. So it’s our job to go out there and play our best and try to win every day.
“And it’s just big, especially these road games, playing in this atmosphere, when the stakes are high,” Mancini added. “It’s really, really valuable for these guys to be playing in that situation.”
Ryan Mountcastle is a perfect example of how a young player continues to gain valuable experience. Despite going 0 for 4 Monday, he has amassed 30 home runs and 83 RBIs. When he hit his 29th on Thursday, he set the Orioles’ rookie record.
“It’s an amazing accomplishment for a young player,” Orioles manager Brandon Hyde said of Mountcastle’s home run mark. “Any time you’re passing somebody like Cal Ripken Jr., you’re doing something very, very special. And Ryan’s had a special season. A great rookie year.”
If Cedric Mullins can come up with one home run Tuesday, he’ll become the first player in Orioles’ history with 30 homers and 30 stolen bases in the same season.
–Field Level Media