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These next 10 days might represent the Phillies’ best chance to make up ground in the NL East | Extra Innings

After winning nine games in a row, the division-leading Braves are in the midst of a tough eight-game stretch against the Yankees, Giants, and Dodgers.

Phillies catcher J.T. Realmuto (left) and Bryce Harper are looking to bounce back from a difficult road trip.
Phillies catcher J.T. Realmuto (left) and Bryce Harper are looking to bounce back from a difficult road trip.Read moreHEATHER KHALIFA / Staff Photographer

With six weeks left in the season, we know what you want to know: Do the Phillies still have a chance to win the NL East?

Check back in about 10 days.

After winning nine consecutive games to gain a five-game cushion, the Braves finally lost Monday night, 5-1, to the Yankees. It marked the start of an eight-game stretch in which they will host the Yankees and Giants, then visit Dodger Stadium before the schedule softens again. It might be the Phillies’ best chance, then, to cut into the division lead.

For that to happen, of course, the Phillies must get on another roll, and they will open a six-game homestand tonight against the tough Tampa Bay Rays.

The oddsmakers aren’t exactly in love with the Phillies. FanGraphs gives them a 16.9% chance to win the NL East (20.5% to make the playoffs); puts their chances at 13.5% for a division title and 17.2% for a postseason berth.

But the picture should get clearer by the middle of next week.

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The rundown

When the Phillies demoted Alec Bohm to the minors Sunday, I kept thinking about how long it took them to finally send Scott Kingery to triple A. Perhaps they learned a lesson.

Ranger Suárez is scheduled to start the series opener tonight against the Rays after a rocky start last week in Arizona. Some of his teammates believe he has been a “savior” for the Phillies.

In case you missed this last week, there was some big news in the baseball card industry. Matt Breen has all the details here.

Important dates

Today: Phillies vs. the Rays’ Drew Rasmussen at Citizens Bank Park, 7:05 p.m.

Tomorrow: Zack Wheeler faces Tampa Bay in the series finale, 7:05 p.m.

Thursday: The Diamondbacks come to town, 7:05 p.m.

Friday: Phillies continue a four-game series vs. D’backs, 7:05 p.m.

Stat of the day

After the Phillies play their two-game interleague series vs. the Rays, 17 of their last 36 games will be against the Diamondbacks, Marlins, Pirates, and Orioles, all last-place teams.

Great, right? Not so fast.

As one loyal reader of Extra Innings noted, the Phillies are 15-13 against first-place teams and 8-11 against last-place clubs, including a three-game sweep last week in Arizona.

No wonder Joe Girardi doesn’t want to hear about the Phillies’ “easy” schedule.

From the mailbag

Send questions by email or on Twitter @ScottLauber.

Question: Love Extra Innings! What’s the latest with Freddy Galvis? Is he close to coming back? How much is he going to play? — Chris R., via email

Answer: Thanks, Chris. All signs point to Galvis joining the Phillies soon, possibly even for the Rays series. He played five games last week for triple-A Lehigh Valley, including nine innings in back-to-back games Saturday and Sunday. General manager Sam Fuld said last week that Galvis could return Tuesday. He seems to have checked all the boxes.

My sense is that Galvis will play quite a bit. He played shortstop, second base, and third during his rehab assignment. I could see him splitting time at third base with Ronald Torreyes and starting at shortstop against left-handed pitching. If Galvis hits, Girardi will find at-bats for him.