It’s only May, but this three-game series with the Atlanta Braves could go a long way towards securing playoff seeds. The Philadelphia Phillies took two of the three games – nearly sweeping the series – moving back to .500 in the process and proving that they’re the defending five-time NL East champions for a reason.
What This Means: The Phillies captured two of three games against the Braves, putting Philly’s record back at .500 for the season. The Phillies are still in just fourth place in the NL East, 3.5 games back of the Washington Nationals but they did cut the deficit behind the Braves to just 1.5 games. The Phillies are still a half game back of the New York Mets and hold a 1.5 game lead over the Miami Marlins.
Grading the Offense: The Phillies scored four runs twice and 13 once, and remarkably lost the one in which they scored 13 times and collected 17 hits. The Phillies averaged seven runs and 12.33 hits per contest, by far one of the finer offensive performances of the season for the team. Placido Polanco went 4-for-11 (.364), and he continues to raise his batting average following a sluggish start to the season. Shane Victorino went 5-for-14 (.357) with four RBIs, including a home run. Hunter Pence hit better, going 4-for-12 (.333), and Laynce Nix continued his torrid start to the season, going 5-for-9 (.556) with a pair of doubles and a home run. Carlos Ruiz also set a career-high with a seven-RBI game, accounting for over half of the Phillies’ runs in that contest. Grade: A
Grading the Pitching: Cole Hamels turned in his typical outing (6 IP, 2 ER) in Tuesday night’s contest before a freakishly awful performance from Roy Halladay and a freakishly good performance from Joe Blanton to cap off the series. Halladay was torched for eight runs and 12 hits, surrendering a 6-0 lead in a game the Phillies eventually lost, 15-13, in 11 innings of play. Blanton then turned it around the next day by throwing a three-hit shutout with no walks and six strikeouts, lowering his ERA to 2.83 on the season (a half-run lower than Halladay). The bullpen threw three scoreless innings in Hamels’ start before giving the game away in Halladay’s outing. When Carlos Ruiz’s double staked the Phillies to a 12-8 lead, Jose Contreras and Michael Schwimer proceeded to give up three hits, two walks, and five runs in one inning pitched. Grade: B-
What’s Next: The Phillies play the first-place Washington Nationals in a three-game series that begins Friday night with a Kyle Kendrick-Stephen Strasburg matchup, followed by Vance Worley against Gio Gonzalez, and topped off by Hamels against Jordan Zimmerman.