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September 03, 2023

Phillies keep a short memory against the Brewers that they'll need for the final playoff push

Because even the best teams have frustrating setbacks on the march to October. Just forget it and get back out there.

The Phillies dropped two games in Milwaukee that they really shouldn't have. 

They're still hitting home runs aplenty – up to seven already just three games into September – but offense alone couldn't pull them through on Friday night when a struggling bullpen and a terribly-timed Alec Bohm error at third cost them, and then again on Saturday when Aaron Nola, by his own admittance, got shelled. 

Just brutal losses, and at a point in the season where every passing game for the Phillies only gets increasingly more important from here. But they can't afford to dwell on any of that.

Short memory. Get back out there. 

That's what the bullpen did on Sunday, putting up five scoreless innings in relief of Ranger Suárez to help the Phils salvage a 4-2 win out of the series finale. 

José Alvarado, after retiring only one of the five batters he faced in what quickly became a disastrous eighth on Friday night, was back out there in the same spot on Sunday afternoon, shutting the door this time with two strikeouts and a diving play from Edmundo Sosa at third. 

Jeff Hoffman, who took over for Alvarado in that bases-loaded jam from Friday but couldn't escape it because of the error, cruised to a 1-2-3 inning with two strikeouts himself. 

Craig Kimbrel, who was charged with the blown save that denied a Phillies sweep of the Angels on Wednesday and has been showing signs of slowing down late into the year, still got the call to close out the Brewers and came through, also with a two-strikeout ninth. 

And Bohm, who made that devasting, bases-clearing miss on a ground ball that gets fielded nine times out of ten? He had the homer to tie it on Sunday in the seventh, which led right to J.T. Realmuto crushing a ball off the center-field scoreboard for the lead in the very next at-bat. 

Short memory. Get back out there. 

Because all things considered, the Phillies are still in pretty good shape heading into the regular season's final stretch of games. 

They're 75-61 overall after wrapping up this weekend's three-game set against the Brewers, hold a 2.5-game lead up over the Cubs for the top NL Wild Card spot, and have a 5.0-game cushion over the Diamondbacks in third. 

And outside of one more series against the division-leading Braves coming up next week, the Phillies' last run of opponents consists of the underwhelming Padres out in San Diego (up next), and then the Marlins, Cardinals, Pirates, and ever-collapsing Mets (at home Sept. 21-23 and then on the road to close out the 2023 schedule). 

There are still concerns, for sure – Nola's consistency (just when he looked like he was on to something), Michael Lorenzen's struggles since his no-hitter, what the ideal playoff rotation should be, and the overall stability of both the starting and relief pitching chief among them. 

But it's a relatively easy schedule ahead as the Phillies try to clinch their playoff spot while ironing all of those out. And with the way the lineup has been hitting of late, especially with their tendency to climb right back into any game at any given moment, maybe a bit more leeway in doing so. 

All that said, the next month might get a bit frustrating, because the Phillies in a postseason chase is never without its stress – remember last year and that last irritating fight with Milwaukee? 

There are going to be more setbacks, there are going to be a few more blown leads and bad starts, and there are going to be a few more games that the Phillies really should've won but didn't. 

It happens, but getting back to October leaves no time to dwell on any of it. 

Short memory. Get back out there. 

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