Don’t look now, but the Philadelphia Phillies might be making a serious run to the playoffs. It’s hard to believe, especially for a doubter like me, but the Phillies have put themselves back in the mix for a Wild Card playoff spot by sweeping the Colorado Rockies this weekend and winning 8 of their last 10 games.
Sure, the Phils are still 2 games under .500 at 69-71, but they sit 6 games back of one of the newly-created Wild Card spots this morning. With the lineup almost completely healthy, minus third baseman Placido Polanco, Philly is playing solid baseball of late. They’ve won three straight series and have a favorable schedule on the horizon with series against the Miami Marlins (63-78), Houson Astros (44-96) and New York Mets (65-75) upcoming.
Outfielder John Mayberry Jr. has provided a spark to the lineup this month, batting .310 with 1 HR, 3 RBIs and 5 runs in 29 at bats, including the game-winning RBI single in the bottom of the ninth inning of yesterday’s afternoon game. While Mayberry seemingly blew his shot at a permanent starting gig for 2013 earlier this season, he could play himself back into serious contention with a strong finish.
Cole Hamels had another strong outing in game 1 of Sunday’s doubleheader. He didn’t factor into the decision, but he was solid with 7 IP, 5 hits, 1 walk, 2 earned runs and 6 strikeouts.
Even with the Phils’ strong recent push, they’re a long shot to make the postseason. True, they have made up a 6-game deficit in the standings in September in years past, but the difference this season is they will have to overcome four or five teams in the standings instead of just one. The Atlanta Braves (81-60) are firmly entrenched in the first Wild Card spot, while the St. Louis Cardinals (75-65) hold the second spot. The Los Angeles Dodgers (74-67) are then followed by the Pittsburgh Pirates (72-67), the Phillies and the Milwaukee Brewers (69-71). Even the Arizona Diamondbacks (69-72) have a shot.
The Phillies are still likely to spend October sitting at home watching the postseason this year, but it’s nice to see there is some promise for 2013. The team starts a three-game series against the Marlins at home tonight. The project pitching matchups are Kyle Kendrick vs. Wade LeBlanc, Roy Halladay vs. Nate Eovaldi, and Cliff Lee vs. Josh Johnson.
On the NFL
The Eagles sure do know how to play down to the level of their competition, don’t they? Most pundits assumed the talent-rich Eagles would march into Cleveland and stomp all over the inexperienced Browns en route to an easy Week 1 win. That, obviously, wasn’t the case.
Thanks to 5 turnovers, including 4 Michael Vick interceptions, the Eagles needed a late touchdown pass to escape Cleveland with a 17-16 win. Hey, a win is a win, right?
Vick attempted a not-so-ideal 56 passes Sunday afternoon, while the running backs got only 22 carries, 20 of which went to LeSean McCoy. For the Eagles to be successful against good teams, head coach Andy Reid and offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg are going to have to figure out a more balanced attack. It’s not as if McCoy (20 carries for 110 yards) wasn’t having success on the ground. So why did the coaching staff feel it necessary to keep throwing the ball? The answer, of course, is that it’s the Eagles we’re talking about here.
When you throw 56 times, it’s hard not to have good passing stats. Vick ended with 317 yards and 2 TDs. Jeremy Maclin led the way in the receiving game with 7 catches for 96 yards and a TD, while DeSean Jackson (4-77) and Brent Celek (4-65) had solid games, too.
The defense played a strong game, allowing only 217 yards and picking off Browns rookie quarterback Brandon Weeden 4 times – 2 each by Kurt Coleman and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie. Jason Babin and rookie Fletcher Cox each recorded a sack.
The Eagles are set to host the Baltimore Ravens in their first home game of the season at 1 pm next weekend. The Ravens play their first game tonight against the Cincinnati Bengals.