Those Damned Phillies… Just When You Thought They Were Out…

The Mets lost again last night, succumbing to the Washington Nationals by a score of 5-3. One night after being mathematically eliminated form winning the NL East, they established a new franchise record for the longest home streak of scoring three or fewer runs per game. The last time the Mets scored more than three runs at home was over a month ago on August 12 in a 6-5 win against the Braves. They beat the old mark set by the 1967 Mets and duplicated in again 1979. This is officially and historically the worse one month home stretch ever for the Mets. Things have never been as bad as they are now. Never.

Meanwhile, about 80 miles south on I-95 the Philadelphia Phillies are making their move, and they are certainly not as dead as some made them out to be. They took a huge step Tuesday night by defeating the Miami Marlins 9-7 and improving  their record to 71-71, the first time they have been .500 since June 4.

The Phillies are 14-4 since Aug. 22, which is the best record in baseball in that span. They are now just 4 1/2 games behind the St. Louis Cardinals for the second NL Wild Card spot.

Right before the trade deadline, Ruben Amaro Jr. unloaded outfielders Hunter Pence and fan favorite Shane Victorino in what looked like a shift into rebuild mode. Amaro denied those claims and said it was more like refocus mode. It sounded like GM-speak, but maybe it wasn’t.

There has been a real reversal of fortunes for the Phillies since that July 31 deadline, and since then they’ve managed to go 25-14 and picked up a full ten games in the Wild Card Standings.

In their last 30 games, Ryan Howard has 24 RBI’s – tops in the National League in that span. John Mayberry who became the beneficiary of all that extra playing time since Victorino and Pence were shipped off has batted .316/.387/.520 with five homers and 15 RBIs and runs scored. More importantly, Cliff Lee is back in business with a 2.08 ERA since Aug 1, Cole Hamels has been his usual ace-like self, and Kyle Kendrick has been the best of the bunch posting a 1.48 ERA in his last five starts.

The Phillies are gaining on everyone and they are coming fast.

Meanwhile back in our neck of the Metropolis, that goal the Mets had of finishing in third place or at .500 have dwindled away.

After their last road trip, they returned to Flushing spouting off about embracing the role of spoilers with the Braves and Nationals coming into town for a six-game homestand. They go into tonight’s game with the very real possibility of being swept for all six games – and looking incredibly bad fundamentally in the process. The Mets are now 2.5 games out of last place and they end the season with a three game series against the last place Marlins in a battle to avoid finishing in the basement.

I’m seeing comments like “awesome” after a loss because it may mean a higher draft pick. It totally sucks, ya know…

Will the Phillies grab that final wild card? Who knows, but right now they are the hottest team in baseball and as the old adage says, “It’s now how you start, it’s how you finish.”