Facing a 15.5 game deficit in the Wild Card, and a 21.5 game deficit in the division, there isn't much to look forward to over the month of September, as it would take nothing short of a miracle for the Phillies to make the playoffs. As a result, fans should really be hoping that the Phillies lose as many games as possible, as they will be jockeying for a better position in the 2014 draft.
That said, that doesn't mean that it isn't awfully fun when the Phillies put together a winning streak, especially if it's against the division rival Atlanta Braves. And that's exactly what the Phillies did this weekend, when they swept the Braves in a three-game set in Philadelphia, where they utilized many of the tools that will (hopefully) make them contenders in 2014.
First, the pitching. The Braves had the misfortune of drawing both Cliff Lee and Cole Hamels in the three-game set, which is bad news for any team during a short series. Predictably, both Aces did a number on the Braves, as Lee struck out ten and allowed a run over eight innings, while Hamels allowed two runs over eight in a nine strikeout performance. For good measure, Kyle Kendrick struck out eight and allowed three runs in his six innings of work on Saturday.
While the starting pitching was a strength for the Phillies over the weekend, I'd be remiss if I didn't comment on the bang-up job by the bullpen. Aside from a blown save by Jonathan Papelbon on Saturday (the Phillies would win in the bottom half of the inning), the bullpen was sound as ever, as youngsters Justin De Fratus, Jake Diekman, and BJ Rosenberg (who earned his first career save on Sunday) combined for three scoreless innings of work to go along with five strikeouts. The trio will more than likely play a big factor in the 2014 bullpen, so their performance over the weekend may very well be a peek at things to come.
From the offensive side of things, the younger Phillies took care of business against the Braves. On Friday night, Cody Asche's seventh inning home run was the difference in the game. It was his fourth home run of the season, and through 31 games, the 23-year-old has a .276/.327/.467 line.
On Saturday night, veteran Carlos Ruiz led the way early on, but it was Freddy Galvis' walk-off home run (his fifth homer of the season) that led the Phillies to the win.
On Sunday afternoon, the offense didn't need to do too much to support Cole Hamels, but Darin Ruf's eight-inning home run (his 13th of the season) was the difference maker in the 3-2 win to complete the sweep over the Braves.
Ultimately, this weekend doesn't mean much in the grand scheme of things this season, but looking forward, it's nice to see the young Phillies coming through in the clutch.