Series Six Pack of Notes/Highlights:
1. The defense this series was not up to par. There were numerous balls that fell on the outfield that should have been caught, namely one that fell in the middle of the players and was the game winning “hit”. The Phillies got solid pitching this series but the defense failed the team and made winning just that much more difficult.
2. The typical top five guys in the lineup, Schwarber, Turner, Castellanos, Harper and Realmuto, combined to hit 4-39 in the two losses and 6-21 in the one win. There is a clear correlation on how the team does vs how those five guys are performing at the plate. It's no secret that teams need their best players to hit, and those five guys were not hitting in the four-game losing streak. It's nice to see them breakout of it in the final game of this series.
3. Bryce Harper’s long anticipated debut at first base occurred in game one and he played there again in game three. As baseball does, the ball found him early and often. The very first Guardians batter hit a dribbler to Harper who made the easy play. Later in game one, there was a pop up in foul territory near first base. It kept fading towards the dug out and stands but that didn’t stop Harper who made a leaping grab falling over the fence. It was an athletic play that many first basemen don’t make let alone one who was playing there for the first time. In his two games he made a handful of really nice plays and made most of the easy ones. Each game he gains experience and will get a little better.
4. Nola and Wheeler are pitching at ace form. In game two, Wheeler went seven innings allowing the one “earned” run while striking out eight and walking just one. He was in peak form. Nola started game three and though they scored three runs, he looked in control and was throwing strikes. His final line was seven innings, three runs with seven strikeouts and no walks. Phillies need their top end starters to perform like this to continue their playoff push.
5. Although the Phillies found themselves losing four straight before the win in the final game of the series, they didn’t lose much ground in the Wild Card standings. The teams ahead of them (other than the Reds) all went on extended losing streaks themselves. Marlins have lost , Diamondbacks have lost , the giants have lost . Baseball is a game of streaks and teams just have to limit the bad ones as much as possible. Phillies are still right in the thick of it.
6. Craig Kimbrel blew his first game of the season Sunday afternoon in the final game of the series. He had been 16/16 on save opportunities prior to letting up a game tying homerun. With that being said, Kimbrel has been one of, if not the best, off-season acquisition that Dombrowski and the front office made. A one year, $10 million deal is an absolute bargain for an All-Star closer. The Phillies will certainly take Kimbrel’s performance this year as the closer role has been an adventure for quite some time.