When the Philadelphia Phillies arrived home for perhaps the most important stretch of games in the first half of the season, the team was 8.5 games back of the Atlanta Braves for the lead in the NL East. At the close of the first series of the homestand, they were 7.5 back.
It may not be much considering that there is still a considerable mountain to climb, but progress is progress. And at the very minimal, at least the Phillies finished their series against Atlanta without losing any further ground in the division.
So as it goes, winning this series likely staved off talks, at least for now, of a call for the Phillies to be sellers at the trade deadline. These talks were only magnifying after the Braves trounced Philadelphia as recently as July 6, the second game of the three-game series, but now they could quiet down as the Phillies have managed to keep themselves alive, if only barely, in the race for a playoff spot.
However, that doesn’t mean that with unfavorable results in the next six games before the All-Star break that Philadelphia’s name as well as the names of likely trade candidates Chase Utley, Carlos Ruiz, Michael Young and Jonathan Papelbon won’t be back in the headlines of the news.
Especially because the team’s next series is against the second place Washington Nationals.
Washington is only five games back of Atlanta, and if the Phillies can win this series, second place and a .500 record will be back in their sights.
And with the Braves heading south to take on the NL worst Miami Marlins, the need for the Phillies to win or sweep the Nationals is just as great as it was against Atlanta, if not greater.
Keeping fan-favorites from the trading block might even depend on it.