May 14, 2023
The Phillies won a series in Colorado for the first time since 2012, but a stinker on Sunday halted their season-best winning streak at six games against the Rockies.
The pitching was solid across the board and the Phillies got hits from nearly all their big names in key spots in their two winning efforts but made sure to keep fans a little antsy getting shut out in the series finale.
Here's a look at five awards for the Phillies from the series at Coors Field:
Is it way too early to even acknowledge the standings and playoff race? Probably. But it is worth mentioning in passing at least that if the playoff started today (they don't... they actually don't start for five more months) the Phillies would be in the postseason, in a familiar spot — as the final Wildcard.
Last season the Phils benefitted from the newly expanded postseason to six teams per league and all they did was advance to the World Series With such tough competition in the NL East yet again, it seems like their most likely path to a chance to defend their pennant is as a Wildcard. They remain five games behind the Braves for the division lead.
The Phillies were the hottest team in baseball heading into their Sunday finale matinee with the Rockies — but cooled off in the mountains with an extremely troubling loss 4-0 after out-scoring Colorado 13-7 in the first two games.
Aaron Nola pitched okay, but was strained early by errors and miscues from the team's defense. For example, in addition to the errors the Phils also botched two tailor-made double play balls early on and Nola still was able to get through seven innings with 102 pitches thrown. But the Phillies stranded runner after runner and weren't able to muster any offense to speak of, as they fell back to .500 yet again. Six in a row is pretty good. You can't win them all. But wasting a solid Nola outing while also bringing home zero of 12 base runners is a pretty bad way to lose.
The Phillies’ bullpen has been streaky, it has been inconsistent, and it has been incredibly frustrating. They were arguably the MVPs in Denver, however, as relief pitchers stepped into several key spots and left with the lead (or tie) each time.
In Game 1, Taijuan Walker tossed a quality start and held a lead in the seventh when he was lifted for Matt Strahm. Strahm let the Rockies tie things but after the Phils took the lead back, Seranthony Dominguez and Craig Kimbrel slammed the door shut.
The same can be said for Game 2, where the pen helped to make Ranger Suarez‘a debut in 2023 a win. He went just four innings but Connor Brogdon, Andrew Bellatti, Jeff Hoffman and Gregory Soto did not allow a run to score preserving the 7-4 win. For what it's worth, Andrew Vasquez had his own scoreless frame Sunday to continue the bullpen's dominance.
What can be said about the Phillies recent MVP (regular season and NLCS) that you can't gleam from watching the superstar on the field? Back from Tommy John surgery in record-setting time, he is in midseason form already. Over the three-game series Harper went 4-for-8 with four RBI, including his second homer of the season to give the Phils some insurance on Saturday:
Him. #RingTheBell pic.twitter.com/T5GTAOewsT— Philadelphia Phillies (@Phillies) May 14, 2023
An absolute bullet. What elbow surgery? Of course, he inevitably fell back to earth Sunday like the rest of his teammates going 0-for-3 with two ugly strikeouts. But he did earn some cred in his adopted hometown when he was kicked out of the ballgame in the seventh:
We've got a brawl underway in Colorado and Bryce Harper is at the center of it pic.twitter.com/81PcXV1cT0— Jomboy Media (@JomboyMedia) May 14, 2023
The red hot Phillies will have a realistic chance to keep the good times rolling in San Francisco, as they face yet another NL team with a record under .500 in the Giants starting Monday. The Giants have struggled to stay relevant and are already miles behind the Diamondbacks and Dodgers in the NL West.
The first two games of the set will be late ones, starting at 9:45 p.m. EST before a day off Thursday and homestand beginning with the Cubs on Friday.
Follow Evan on Twitter:@evan_macy
Like us on Facebook: PhillyVoice Sports