The Phillies continue to pounce on the vaulters and stifle them early, leaving the weakest teams in the National League with little chance of a comeback.
It bodes well with another 13 games in a row against 500 sub-clubs.
Just as they did Friday night and all week, Velez resumed an early attack and took a relatively comfortable win. They scored three first-half runs on a JT Realmuto-double-clearing double, and took off from there in a 6-0 win, their sixth in a row.
The Phils outperformed their rivals 22-1 in the first three rounds of those six games.
“You know, last year, that’s been our downfall, frankly,” bowler Kyle Gibson said of the Phillies’ ability to beat teams buried in the standings.
“This year, our upcoming mentality has been a little bit shakier and with a bit more edge than we have been in the past. It’s easy to get lost or complacency when these teams play. Lately in particular, we’ve done a great job facing these teams and getting Take the lead early and really define how to play.
“I’ve been on those teams where you lose 100 games and any time you give up running early it’s like, ‘Here we go again. “I suppose some of the teams we played had that feeling. That’s what you want as a team playing in the qualifiers. You want them to be in that mood and it will be difficult for them to come back. That was the biggest difference.”
Realmuto has been one of the best baseball players in the past five weeks. He’s led in 26 runs in his last 27 games, fourth in a major in that period behind only Paul Goldschmidt, Aaron Judge and Pete Alonso.
Realmuto has an additional baseball hit and/or RBI in eight straight games and the chances should continue with Bryce Harper going back to the front. Harper, in his second game since returning from a broken left thumb, singled out in the first half just as he did on Friday. Realmuto bases loaded. Harper later deliberately walked twice.
“Since I’ve been here, we’ve underestimated our competitors at times,” Realmuto said. “For me, that is a big difference in our season. The teams we have to deal with, we played well against all season.”
The Phillies have opened up a nice cushion in the Wild Card Race. They finished second out of three wilds with a 2½-game lead over the Padres and five games over the Brewers.
There are a lot of really bad teams in baseball this season, and since they were eliminated from the All-Star Game by the Cubs, Phillies are 18-2 against record-losing clubs.
Since June 1, Phillies have had five different winning sets from at least five matches. At 72-55, they are well above the .500 as they have been since the last day of the 2011 season, and it’s been a long time since they’ve had this many hitters at the same time.
Phillies are 23-9 in their last 32 games. Nick Castellanos, Alec Bohm and Realmuto all got hits between 323 and .333 during this stretch. Bryson Stott hit 0.295 with pop. Jean Segura hasn’t come back all that time but is down to 0.344 by 0.427 on a percentage basis in his last 19 games. He is now an eight-hole hitter.
Remember when Kyle Schwarber had the Phillies attack from June 1 through mid-July? Schwarber has had Schwarber once at home for the past three weeks and Phils have gone 14-7. They face poor throws and poor defenses but find ways to score even when hitters don’t go deep.
Gibson took the win on his 25th start, improving to 9-5 with a 4.08 ERA. He hit nine across seven innings without goals in one of his best starts of the year.
Phils is looking to sweep the season’s seven-game streak against the Pirates on Sunday afternoon behind Noah Syndergaard, whose four starts as Phillie have resulted in wins.
“September 1st might be a little early to start thinking about it, but when you’re sitting in a playoff it’s easier to think about,” Gibson said. “You try to fight those thoughts so you can win and even get to that moment, but sure, that’s something you think about.”
Thirty-five games left.
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