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July 07, 2024

Phillies quick hits: Fightins lose ground in NL East race with series loss to Atlanta

Atlanta gained a game in the standings on the Phillies over the weekend.

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USATSI_23694994.jpg Dale Zanine/USA Today Sports

Atlanta unleashed a string of home runs in their series win over the Phillies.

Missing three All-Stars from their lineup, stealing a series win over Atlanta would've been major for the Phillies this weekend. The Braves didn't sweep the Phils, but, contrary to what Meat Loaf might say, two out of three was bad for the Fightins. 

On an offense-heavy Friday night, the Phillies prevailed 8-6.

Saturday was a let down with the Phillies falling 5-1 to the Braves.

Sunday was more of the same, as Atlanta beat the Phils 6-0.

The Phillies are now "just" eight games up in the National League East over Atlanta. This is still very much a race with the unpredictability that comes with injuries and total randomness in baseball.

To get you through a disappointing weekend, here are a few quick thoughts on the Phillies from the series that was:

Trea Turner is a superstar

There was some discourse online, mainly by national baseball talking heads, that Trea Turner was undeserving of being the starting National League shortstop in the Midsummer Classic because of the time he's missed to injury. Well, he's been playing like one of the best players in the entire sport since returning from the injured list, including a monster Friday night performance where he smacked two home runs and totaled four RBI.

Turner has been as advertised so far in 2024 following the monster free agent contract he signed last offseason.

Ranger Suárez crashed down to Earth

With Ranger Suárez likely minutes away from receiving his first, and very much deserved, All-Star nod, the lefty is coming off his two worst performances of this season.

Suárez allowed a whopping 10 hits and six earned runs last week against Miami. A blip on the radar perhaps. In Saturday evening's nationally televised loss against the Braves, however, Suárez once again left a lot to be desired. Suárez surrendered five earned runs in just five innings of work. 

Four starts ago, Suárez had a miniscule 1.75 ERA. Ultimately, that was unsustainable, as it jumped to 2.58 over this weekend. He's now "only" fifth in all of baseball in ERA. 

10 days from now, Suárez might be starting in the All-Star Game. That checks out with the campaign he's had, but he's fallen off that Pedro Martínez-esque run he was on for three months.

Michael Mercado looked a Home Run Derby pitcher

In the second inning in Sunday's L, spot starter Michael Mercado gave up three home runs in that frame alone to Atlanta, putting the Phils in an early 5-0 hole from which they could not climb out. Per the NBC Sports Philadelphia broadcast, it was the first time the Phillies has allowed three homers in a single inning since 2022. 

Mercardo is maybe in a little over his head in a full-on playoff race as the No. 5 starter behind the Phils' fabulous top-four hurlers. His ERA now stands at 7.04 in 7.2 innings of work in his young MLB career. 

That spot on the roster won't matter in October when teams use four- and three-man rotations, but you need to get to the postseason first. A back-of-the-rotation starter is at the tail end of the Phillies' trade deadline worries with a right-handed outfield bat mightily needed and bullpen help always welcomed. 

If Dave Dombrowski and co. cash in some prospects for Luis Robert Jr., I doubt few people will care in a couple months about how shaky the No. 5 starter gig was. 

Local product Tyler Phillips makes MLB debut

26-year-old Tyler Phillips, a New Jersey native and a Bishop Eustace graduate, made his major league debut as a relief pitcher for the Fightins on Sunday. Phillips, who grew up a Phillies fan, struck out the side in the fifth inning and struck out the first batter of the sixth inning. That's a hell of a beginning to his MLB story. Naturally, he surrendered a home run two batters later, but, hey, at least that fifth inning was cinematic. He finished with seven strikeouts in four innings. 

The Phillies maintain their place on national TV

Much to the chagrin of Phillies fans who aren't necessarily technologically progressive, the Phillies' Friday night W aired on Apple TV+. That's a tough break for those who don't want to pay even more than they already do to watch the Fightins, but speaks to the way that the team has become a dominant force in baseball culture.

They followed that up with a Saturday evening FOX game. Sunday's game, thankfully, aired on NBC Sports Philadelphia, but the Phils' upcoming three-game set against the Dodgers will also see them playing across the country's airwaves. Tuesday's series-opener in South Philadelphia will be on TBS (and NBC Sports Philadelphia, too). Wednesday night's matchup will be on ESPN as well.

An agonizing turn of events for younger Phillies fans who don't want calls from their confused parents about where the game is airing? Unquestionable. A boost for one of the majors' marquee teams in a big market? Certainly.

Complaining is in the nature of Philadelphians though.

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