Phillies playing 4D chess against D-backs as Wild Card race tightens

Bryce Harper #3 of the Philadelphia Phillies (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Bryce Harper #3 of the Philadelphia Phillies (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images) /
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The Phillies getting embarrassed by the D-backs might not be a bad thing.

The Philadelphia Phillies losing three straight games — outscored 30 to 10 — at this stage in the season is anything but ideal.

The team has particularly faltered in the current series against the Arizona Diamondbacks — blowing a seven-run lead in Monday’s opener, and yielding as many as 22 consecutive runs to the opposition through the eighth inning on Tuesday.

Had it not been for a late, three-run home run from Brandon Marsh, the Phillies would have been outscored 25-0 so far in the series by the National League West opponent.

The Phillies surely are giving the 61-67 Diamondbacks some extra confidence — although it might be too little, too late with them 9 1/2 games back of the third Wild Card spot. The Phillies, meanwhile, still hold a half-game lead over the San Diego Padres for the second Wild Card, and a three-game lead over the Milwaukee Brewers for the final postseason spot in the National League.

But don’t count the Diamondbacks out just yet. Just perhaps, the Phillies are playing some 4D chess. Arizona still has seven games remaining each against both Phillies Wild Card competitors — the Brewers and Padres.

After facing the Phillies, the D-backs will take on the Brewers right away for a four-game home set. Then, they will travel slightly west to San Diego for a three-game road series against the Padres. A week later, the D-backs will host Juan Soto’s team again for four games — before eventually playing their final series of the 2022 season at home for three games against the Brewers.

The Phils losing the way they have is anything but what a postseason-hopeful team should be doing with just 32 games left on the schedule. Still, they somehow find themselves in the second Wild Card position, and their tiebreakers over the Padres and Brewers remain intact if the season ends and they have an identical record.

Had interim manager Rob Thomson’s squad defeated the D-backs in the past two games, the National League West team would really be out of the Wild Card race. But now that their deficit is down to single digits — tied with the Gabe Kapler-led San Francisco Giants in the standings — the D-backs just might make their remaining slate of games extra competitive because of it.

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