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August has been a roller coaster for the Phillies. What will this week bring? | Extra Innings

Two weeks ago, the Phillies led the NL East by two games. They are five games behind the Atlanta Braves as this week begins.

Phillies left fielder Andrew McCutchen is 4-for-39 with 16 strikeouts since returning from the injured list.
Phillies left fielder Andrew McCutchen is 4-for-39 with 16 strikeouts since returning from the injured list.Read moreMONICA HERNDON / Staff Photographer

When the Phillies awoke on the first Monday in August, they were 3 1/2 games out of first place. A week later, they had a two-game lead. A week after that, they were 1 1/2 games off the pace. Today, they’re five games back.

Space Mountain has nothing on this roller coaster.

The Phillies are 12-8 this month, if you can believe it. But eight of those wins were bunched together at the start of August. They’ve dropped eight of 12 games since then, including four in a row last week, while the Atlanta Braves have beaten up on weak teams for a nine-game winning streak.

Just imagine what this week might bring.

“Obviously the gap’s gotten bigger pretty quick,” Phillies pitcher Aaron Nola said. “But we can’t let that get in our heads. We’ve got to play our game. We can’t worry about anyone else. We’ve got to worry about winning games.”

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The rundown

Think the Phillies missed Rhys Hoskins? Two home runs Sunday in a 7-4 victory in San Diego reinforced how much he means to the lineup.

Alec Bohm hasn’t played much lately, so the Phillies sent him to triple A. But as Matt Breen writes, they haven’t discussed moving him to left field ... yet.

Before Bohm’s demotion, he was working with infield coach Juan Castro on improving at third base. Here’s some of what they were doing.

Zach Eflin could be back in the Phillies’ rotation soon after feeling good in a minor-league start Saturday night at double-A Reading.

Aaron Nola won’t soon forget facing his older brother, Austin, on Saturday night, even if the ending was utterly forgettable for the Phillies.

It was a big weekend for Patrick McCarthy, who filled in for his play-by-play father on the Phillies’ telecasts Saturday and Sunday.

Important dates

Today: The Phillies are off.

Tomorrow: Ranger Suárez vs. the Rays at Citizens Bank Park, 7:05 p.m.

Wednesday: Zack Wheeler faces Tampa Bay, 7:05 p.m.

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

Stat of the day

Kyle Gibson gave up one run in eight innings Sunday, leading the Phillies to a series victory in San Diego. But the tall right-hander also extended an impressive personal streak.

Gibson has completed at least five innings in 22 consecutive starts, the fourth-longest active streak after Justin Verlander (33), Walker Buehler (25), and Tyler Anderson (25). The Phillies thought they acquired Anderson a few days before they traded for Gibson, but their deal with the Pittsburgh Pirates fell through.

From the mailbag

Send questions by email or on Twitter @ScottLauber.

Question: Given his struggles at third, might Alec Bohm have a future in left field rather than first base? He’s more athletic than many players the Phils have moved there over the years, and he seems to have a strong arm. — Larry S., via email

Answer: Hi, Larry. Thanks for the question. It’s an interesting idea. The Phillies succeeded in moving Pat Burrell from first base to left field years ago, so it’s natural to wonder if they might be able to do it with Bohm, too.

Color me skeptical. Hanley Ramirez failed miserably at moving to left field a few years ago — and he was a shortstop! You saw how poorly it went when Hoskins tried to play left field in 2018. I’m not saying Bohm couldn’t do it. I just wouldn’t count on it.

Matt asked general manager Sam Fuld about it yesterday. Here’s Fuld’s response: “I’ve heard the concept and the thought, but that’s not something we’re looking to do in the very near future.”