Phillies keep Wild Card cushion thanks to Josh Hader, Brewers

Josh Hader #71 of the San Diego Padres (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)
Josh Hader #71 of the San Diego Padres (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images) /

The Phillies are still in the Wild Card mix despite recent struggles.

The Philadelphia Phillies have not played the same level of thrilling baseball previously seen under interim manager Rob Thomson. The club has won just three of its last eight games (outscored 26 to 19 runs) and is 5-5 in its last 10.

The recent disappointing trend continued in Friday’s four-game series opener loss against the New York Mets — with starting pitcher Aaron Nola surrendering five runs through as many innings on eight hits and a walk in the 7-2 defeat

While the Phillies have played .500 baseball in their last 10 games, the Atlanta Braves have gone 9-1, improving their lead to 8 1/2 games for the top National League Wild Card Spot.

With help from some of their postseason competition, the Phillies remain in sole possession of the second Wild Card spot entering Saturday’s doubleheader — with a one-game lead over the San Diego Padres, who maintain a one-game lead over the Milwaukee Brewers for the last spot.

The Padres and Brewers have also gone 5-5 in their last 10 games. The Phillies notably hold the head-to-head tiebreaker against both teams.

The new-look Padres have lost back-to-back games against their newest slugger Juan Soto’s former team — the Major League Baseball-worst Washington Nationals — in large part because of their hard-throwing southpaw closer Josh Hader.

Hader allowed both of his inherited runners to score on Thursday en route to a 3-1 Padres loss. Friday evening, Hader did not retire any of his three batters faced — yielding three runs on two hits and a walk in the 6-3 defeat. Hader made a costly throwing error — which allowed the go-ahead run to score — which followed with him surrendering a two-run home run to rookie Alex Call.

Meanwhile, Hader’s former team — the Brewers — recently split a four-game home set against the potent Los Angeles Dodgers squad, but lost two of three to the National League Central-leading St. Louis Cardinals the series prior.

The Craig Counsell-led team fell, 8-7, in a back-and-forth game at Wrigley Field opposite the 51-67 Chicago Cubs on Friday — Joe Girardi’s first game as broadcaster following his stint as Phillies manager.

With Kyle Schwarber back and Bryce Harper not too far behind him, the Phillies being able to maintain their postseason cushion, despite recent poor play, is an optimistic sign for Red October.

More. Phillies outfielder Nick Castellanos quietly on lengthy hitting streak. light