It is now time to seriously start thinking of the Philadelphia Phillies as a playoff team. If you are anything like me, doubts were circling around for a while trying to grasp how in the world this team was continuing to be successful through 2018. The calendar now reads August and this team is still sitting in first place as they just swept the Miami Marlins in a four game set here at Citizens Bank Park. The question remains though, how is this team accomplishing so much success?
It seems that there is still no clear cut answer to that question. This team still lacks a .300 hitter. This team still lacks a franchise caliber player, although Rhys Hoskins is slowly changing that fact. This team still lacks a bona-fide closer, as the struggles of Seranthony Dominguez seem to be getting more and more intense as the pennant race has now stretched into August. This team however seems to be extremely resilient and they seem to have a strong sense of chemistry which carries to the diamond on a nightly basis.
Take for example the 4th game of the aforementioned sweep against the Miami Marlins. It was Sunday August 5th and the Phillies had their ace on the mound. Aaron Nola was cruising through the Marlins line-up and didn’t allow a run through the first six innings of play. Neither team actually scored a run until the bottom of the 6th, when the Phillies blew the game open, or so they thought, with a three run inning which finally saw Odubel Herrera break out of his slump. His two RBI single which gave the Phillies the lead must have been nice considering the fact he was batting .212 since June 25th.
However just as the offense came alive Aaron Nola and Dominguez began to struggle. Nola gave up two in the top of the 7th and then Dominguez gave up a home run to tie the game at 3-3. As the sweep of the Marlins seemed to be slipping away, the newly acquired Asdrubal Cabrera officially arrived. He hit a two run homer in the 8th to give this team the lead they would not relinquish. Pat Neshek then closed out the game in the ninth which actually gave him the victory to close out the Marlins sweep.
Sunday’s game is just a prime example of how much this team relies on each other to maintain their first place position. With no pure superstar, as evident by the lack of All-Star selections this team had, the offense will have to be more balanced in order to compete with the best teams in the Major League. The pitching staff does have two aces in Nola and Jake Arrieta but the bullpen needs to be a complete unit as it seems the lack of a reliable experienced closer will become an issue in the closing month of the season. As this team prepares for the final stretch of the season in an unpredictable pennant race the chemistry and resiliency needs to become stronger then ever. If it doesn’t this team might not be able to compete in October.
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