Phillies move past Padres in wild-card race after sweeping Nationals originally appeared on NBC Sports Philadelphia
The weather is warm, the ball is flying, the Phillies' offense is locked in and these post-trade deadline Nationals have one of the worst major-league rosters in recent memory.
The result? The Phillies finished off the hapless Nats, 13-1, Sunday afternoon to complete a four-game sweep. The Phils are a season-best 12 games over .500 at 60-48 and have overtaken the Padres (61-50) for the second National League wild-card spot.
They’ve also picked up ground on the Braves, who lost four of five this weekend to the Mets. The Phils are three back of Atlanta for the top wild-card, a spot that matters much more than the other two because that team gets home-field advantage in all three games of its first-round Best of Three matchup.
Washington entered the week with the worst home run differential in National League history and the Phillies only added to it, out-homering the Nats 14-1 this weekend. They went deep four times in the first four innings Sunday, three times in the fourth alone. Darick Hall homered twice, Rhys Hoskins homered for a fourth straight game and Nick Maton sent one into the right-field seats.
The Phillies have won five games in a row and 10 of 11. They're 39-19 since June 1.
Things are clicking all throughout the lineup. Hoskins is on one of his trademark torrid streaks, Nick Castellanos' last two weeks have been his best since April, J.T. Realmuto has shown major power for about a month, Alec Bohm has raked since early July and Hall is slugging over .600. Bryson Stott, who had a multi-hit game with a bases-clearing double after tripling in two Saturday night, continues to hit the ball with authority.
"You looked out today and our entire infield was homegrown and a lot of production from all of them," manager Rob Thomson said, referring to Hoskins, Maton, Stott and Bohm. "It says a lot about our scouting department, player development department. We're playing well, everyone is. We're getting production from almost everywhere."
The Phillies are 21-13 since Bryce Harper's thumb was broken in San Diego because the roster isn't as top-heavy as it's been the last three seasons and so many other players have stepped up. One of them is Aaron Nola, who has won three of his last four starts with a 2.39 ERA.
“It's great, the guys picking up the slack,” Thomson said of winning without Harper and Segura. “The one way you can look at it is these guys have had significant time off and we haven't missed a beat. But when they come back in September and in the playoffs, they are going to be fresh. So maybe there was some benefits to that too, as it turns out.”
The Phillies are 10-2 against the Nationals and face them seven more times -- Sept. 9-11 in Philly and Sept. 30-Oct. 2 in D.C.
The Phils' remaining schedule is one of the easiest in baseball, and unlike past seasons, they've been winning most of the series they should win. They're off Monday before hosting the offensively challenged Marlins for three. From there, the Phillies play the Mets and Reds on the road in three-game series, then return home to host those same two clubs in four-game series.
Of the Phillies' next 35 games, 28 are against teams with losing records and 25 are against teams at least 10 games under .500. The only winning team they're set to face between now and Sept. 16 is the Mets.
"I think we're better equipped," Thomson said. "Every team is different. I know that the last few years we haven't played well in September, but each team was a little bit different, it wasn't the same exact group. This is a different group. There's a lot of leadership in the clubhouse and a lot of winners on the field."