A three-game series between the Phillies and the Mets at Citizens Bank Park in August with first place on the line?
“I can’t wait,” Bryce Harper said Thursday in Washington after the Phillies, down to their last strike, capped a come-from-behind 7-6 victory over the Nationals. “I hope that place is rocking, all the way to the top.”
David Montgomery would’ve loved a series like this, too. Before Friday night’s game, at about 6:40 p.m., the Phillies will pay tribute to their late president, who posthumously received the Hall of Fame’s Buck O’Neil Lifetime Achievement Award last month. The ceremony will include a video narrated by Chase Utley.
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Three reasons why the Phillies have won five games in a row: J.T. Realmuto, Bryce Harper, and Rhys Hoskins. They have combined to go 24-for-52 with 10 doubles and four home runs during the streak.
More good news for Phillies fans: Andrew McCutchen thinks he’ll be ready to return to the lineup next week.
Baseball is a little better around here when the Phillies and Mets are good at the same time. This story from April seems relevant again: A few of my favorite subplots from the newest chapter of the rivalry.
Before Friday night’s ceremony, please re-read Bob Brookover’s terrific column about Montgomery, the employees that he loved so much, and why they loved him back.
Tonight: Kyle Gibson makes Phillies home debut vs. Mets’ Marcus Stroman, 7:05 p.m.
Tomorrow: Ranger Suárez vs. New York’s Tylor Megill, 4:05 p.m.
Sunday: Roy Halladay’s No. 34 will be retired at Citizens Bank Park, 12:45 p.m.
Also Sunday: Zack Wheeler vs. Mets’ Taijuan Walker, 1:05 p.m.
Monday: The Phillies are off.
Stat of the day
Despite allowing an unearned run in the ninth inning Thursday, Archie Bradley nailed down his second save of the season. But why was he in the game instead of new closer Ian Kennedy?
Joe Girardi explained that Bradley was warming in the top of the ninth in case the Phillies tied the game. Once they took the lead, the manager didn’t see the sense in getting Kennedy up and, in essence, burning both relievers while using only one.
But the fact that Girardi felt confident with Bradley speaks to how well the right-hander has pitched lately. In 14 appearances since June 30, he has given up two runs (one earned) for a 0.60 ERA. He has struck out only four batters in that span, but opponents are batting only .232 against him.
From the mailbag
Send questions by email or on Twitter @ScottLauber.
Question: On paper the trade for Kennedy and Gibson looks one-sided for the Phillies. They got starter that was an All Star and a guy who has 16 saves while giving up a pitcher who seems to lose arm strength. What am I missing?
--Charles D., via email
Answer: Thanks, Charles. As I see it, the trade hinges on Spencer Howard. For many reasons, which are detailed here and here, he didn’t reach his potential with the Phillies. Maybe the Rangers can unlock it. If so, it’ll be a nice trade for them. Ultimately, the Phillies gave up on Howard to improve their odds of making the playoffs for the first time since 2011. Can’t argue with that. And they got a pitching prospect (Hans Crouse) in the deal, too.
But I do wonder what would’ve happened if a) Zach Eflin hadn’t gotten injured and b) the Tyler Anderson trade hadn’t fallen apart. Maybe it makes the Phillies less likely to get both Gibson and Kennedy, and perhaps Howard is still here. We’ll never know.