Thanks to a well-timed winning streak and the tepid state of the races for the National League’s East title and the second wild card, the Philadelphia Phillies believe they can end the longest postseason drought on the Senior Circuit.
The New York Mets’ playoff hopes rest on their ability to author an unlikely comeback worthy of the big screen.
The Phillies (75-72) will look to at least keep pace in the NL postseason races and deliver another blow to the teetering Mets (72-76) on Saturday night when the rivals continue their three-game series in New York.
Philadelphia’s Aaron Nola (7-8, 4.58 ERA) is slated to take the mound against Carlos Carrasco (1-2, 5.59) in a battle of right-handers.
The Phillies, who haven’t made the playoffs since 2011, won their third straight game with a 4-3 victory on Friday night. The Phillies’ Ian Kennedy stranded the tying run at second base to end the eighth inning on his way to earning a four-out save.
The Phillies’ win, coupled with the Atlanta Braves’ 6-5, 11-inning loss later Friday to the San Francisco Giants, actually moved Philadelphia closer to first place in the NL East than to the second wild card. The Phillies inched within two games of the Braves in the East while remaining 2 1/2 games behind the surging St. Louis Cardinals in the race for the second wild card.
The ride into contention hasn’t been smooth for the Phillies, who have spent just three days alone in first place in the last four months and were 7 1/2 games out of the second wild-card spot when the trade deadline arrived July 30.
“We know to this point that this season hasn’t been perfect or easy,” said Brad Miller, whose tie-breaking homer in the fifth-inning Friday gave the Phillies the lead for good. “But we know we’re in it and we have this opportunity and this team can do some really cool stuff when our back’s against the wall.”
With four straight losses and seven defeats in their last nine games, the Mets are in danger of falling out of the race after spending most of the summer entrenched in a playoff spot. New York was never more than a half-game out of first place in the NL East from April 13 through Aug. 6 and was alone atop the division for the final 89 days of that stretch.
Despite trailing the Braves by 5 1/2 games and the Cardinals by six, though, outfielder Brandon Nimmo expressed optimism Friday night.
“We’re not mathematically out,” he said. “Crazy things have happened in the past. They’ve made movies about it. It can happen. That’s the mindset that you take into it.”
Nola and Carrasco did not factor into the decision in their most recent starts last Sunday. Nola gave up three runs over 5 1/3 innings as the Phillies fell 5-4 to the Colorado Rockies, while Carrasco allowed two runs over five innings in the Mets’ 7-6 win versus the New York Yankees.
Nola is 8-3 with a 3.20 ERA in 19 career starts against the Mets. He tied Tom Seaver’s record by striking out 10 consecutive batters the last time he opposed New York, in the opener of a doubleheader at Citi Field on June 25.
Carrasco is 1-0 with a 0.00 ERA in two relief appearances against the Phillies, who signed him as an undrafted free agent in 2003 before dealing him to the Cleveland Indians in 2009.
–Field Level Media