It got hairy in the ninth inning Wednesday night, as it often does for the cardiac Phillies. But Brandon Workman held on, and they won a third consecutive game and clinched their second series victory of the season.
Beat the Washington Nationals again Thursday night — no easy feat with Max Scherzer on the mound — and the Phillies will head home with a .500 record on this 10-game, four-city road trip.
In the meantime, let’s do some math.
Since 2000, National League East champions have averaged 95 victories, which equates to 35.2 wins in a 60-game season. The Phillies are 12-14. They must finish 23-11 to reach 35 wins, a tall order.
But the top two teams in each division qualify for the postseason this year. The second-place finishers in the NL East since 2000 have averaged 86.9 wins, 32.2 in a 60-game season. To get to 32 wins, the Phillies must go 20-14. Doable? Maybe. But definitely not a mission impossible.
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Upon becoming only the 64th manager in baseball history to reach 1,000 career victories Wednesday night, Joe Girardi thought about all the people who have influenced his career, from Little League coach Dave Rodgers to major-league mentors Don Baylor, Don Zimmer, Tony La Russa, and Joe Torre.
Leave it to Bryce Harper, though, to get Girardi choked up.
In the clubhouse after the game, the Phillies presented Girardi with a bottle of champagne with “1,000 Wins” printed on the label. Then Harper, who knocked in the go-ahead run with a two-out single in the seventh inning, made a speech that Girardi said “brought a tear to my eye.”
“Everybody knows the type of person Joe is,” Harper said. “He’s been in the game for a long time, from the Marlins to the Yankees to us. He’s a great manager. He’s a great person, great family man, as well. A thousand wins, that’s an incredible feat for any manager.”
Indeed, Girardi is the 16th-fastest manager in major-league history to get to 1,000 wins, reaching the milestone in 1,808 games. He averaged 91 wins per season during 10 years with the New York Yankees.
Earlier in the day, Girardi said his daughter, Lena, asked how he was feeling about being on the precipice of 1,000 wins.
“I said, ‘A lot of times, you don’t have a chance to enjoy things until the season calms down because you’re on to the next day.’ That’s kind of my personality anyway,” Girardi said. “I’m very thankful. Bryce made a great speech, and it brought a tear to my eye because I just feel that I’ve been really blessed.”
After Workman struck out the Nationals’ Victor Robles to end the game, catcher J.T. Realmuto handed the ball to Girardi, who said he plans to keep it in a case at his home.
All that was left was Harper’s toast.
“Any time you’re able to be part of something that great and that exciting, I definitely was going to say something no matter what,” Harper said. “He turned it around as well and said he wouldn’t be here without the players. He’s always giving back to us, giving back to his community, and for him to come back to baseball and get No. 1,000 with the Philadelphia Phillies, that’s a pretty incredible feat and I’m just excited for him as a person and a manager.”
For the first time this season, Girardi pushed a starter beyond the 100-pitch mark. Aaron Nola rewarded the manager’s faith.
Center fielder Roman Quinn is finally healthy. He’s also the fastest man in baseball, as Matt Breen writes.
If there was any discussion of postponing the game to join other MLB teams in protesting racial injustice, Girardi was unaware of it. But Nationals manager Dave Martinez spoke emotionally about the subject after the game with reporters from Washington.
Tonight: Spencer Howard vs. Nationals ace Max Scherzer, 6:37 p.m.
Tomorrow: Phillies return home to face Braves, 7:05 p.m.
Sunday: Phillies vs. Braves on ESPN’s Sunday Night Baseball, 7:08 p.m.
Monday: Nationals visit Citizens Bank Park to open three-game series, 7:05 p.m.
Last week, I spoke with former New York Mets general manager Steve Phillips about signing Mike Piazza to a seven-year, $91 million contract after the 1998 season and how it relates to the decision the Phillies face about keeping J.T. Realmuto.
One factor, as Phillips noted, is the tendency for catchers’ offensive production to decline sharply in their 30s. Realmuto will turn 30 next March, which means a five-year contract would take him through his age-34 season.
Using Realmuto’s career numbers — .279 batting average, .328 on-base percentage, .458 slugging, 111 OPS-plus, 162-game average of 21 homers — as a baseline, there are 26 instances of catchers reaching all of those thresholds at some point during their age-30-to-34 seasons.
Piazza did it most often (four times); Bill Dickey did it three times; Roy Campanella, Elston Howard, Gary Carter and Javy Lopez each did it twice. The others: Gabby Hartnett, Jason Varitek, Jorge Posada, Jonathan Lucroy, Mike Stanley, Sandy Alomar Jr., Ted Simmons, Todd Hundley, Yogi Berra, Walker Cooper, and the immortal Ed Taubensee.
Send questions by email or on Twitter @ScottLauber.
Question: Scott, any chance the Phillies pursue Clevinger from Cleveland? He could come cheap and now you extend your rotation. — @BobHaas4, via Twitter
Answer: Hey, Bob. Thanks, as always, for the question.
For those who don’t know, you’re referring to Indians starter Mike Clevinger, who returned to the mound last night after getting sent down earlier this month because he and fellow pitcher Zach Plesac broke team rules, violated COVID-19 protocol, and angered many teammates by leaving the hotel in Chicago, then lying about it.
While it might be true that Clevinger (and Plesac, for that matter) will be available before the Aug. 31 trade deadline, I respectfully disagree that he will “come cheap.” He’s 29 years old with a 2.97 ERA since the outset of the 2017 season and a $4.1 million salary this year and is under club control through 2022.