WASHINGTON – The Phillies spent their week at Nationals Park looking straight from the visitors’ third base at the giant scoreboard outside of town in the right midfield – and they weren’t shy about acknowledging it.
When the Phils secured victory on Monday, they knew the Mets had lost to the Marlins just two minutes earlier. When Philadelphia recorded the final of victory in DC on Tuesday, New York was on the way to another defeat in Miami in the ninth inning.
However, after both teams won on Wednesday, the Phillies did not have to pay attention to anything other than their own score due to the staggered start times on Thursday. With another Mets defeat already on the books when Travis Jankowski pitted to begin the finals, the Phils took care of business behind another rally in the ninth inning in a 7-6 win against the nats.
The Phillies ‘fifth win (56-53) in a row brought them within half a game of the Mets (56-52), who went into the teams’ three-game showdown at Citizens Bank Park on Friday.
“We’d love whoever we play because these games are all important and every time you’re on a streak like us, you feel good and excited to play,” said JT Realmuto. “But that’s obviously a big run with the Mets. It’s going to be huge. … This would be a great stimulus for the rest of the year. “
Realmuto played a key role in preparing the fight for first place in NL Ost on Friday. With a deficit of two and up to the team’s last goal on Thursday, Realmuto lined a game-binding double with two runs into the right midfield gap. Rhys Hoskins followed two strokes later with his own double run to give Philadelphia the lead.
These are the types of clutch play that could ultimately make all the difference in the NL East race.
“We have to come up with the big hits. You have to have some magical moments,” said Hoskins. “I don’t think we’re done with that. I think we’ll likely find ourselves in situations for the rest of the year that will be pretty big in games.”
The Phillies received many of these hits in the four-game sweep that began with a five-run rally in the ninth inning on Monday night and also featured a three-run comeback on Wednesday and Thursday. The end result was a league opponent’s first four-game sweep since 2009.
Though the team has received contributions from above and below, the trio of Hoskins, Realmuto, and Bryce Harper is a combined 24-for-52 (.462) with 14 extra-base hits and 18 RBIs during the five-game winning streak.
“It’s hard to beat a series on the road. It’s hard to beat four games at home,” said Hoskins. “I think you can feel the momentum a bit. … It should be a really exciting series this weekend.”
The Mets, meanwhile, are 6-2 in their last eight games and have lost three series in a row after losing three of four games to the last-placed Marlins. New York will kick off Marcus Stroman up the hill on Friday, while Kyle Gibson will make his home debut for Philadelphia after an impressive debut in Pittsburgh.
“It’s nice to have momentum, but as I said, momentum begins with the starter the next day [and] whether it goes on, “said manager Joe Girardi.” I feel good that Gibby is out there, and I’m sure you will feel good with Stroman. It should be good. “
Since the Phillies want to take first place for the first time since May 8th on Friday – which also marks the start of the alumni weekend – Harper expects a post-season atmosphere in Citizens Bank Park.
“I can’t wait. I hope this place rocks to the top,” said Harper. “I’m really excited to see it. I can’t wait to get there Friday night and get started.”