For the first four months of the season, 100 losses appeared inevitable. Not anymore.
Despite failing to complete a four-game sweep of the MLB-best Dodgers Thursday afternoon, the Phillies begin their final road series tonight in Atlanta coming off a 7-3 homestand. At 61-92 and nine games left, 100 losses seem highly unlikely.
Since the All-Star break, the Phillies are 32-34. Since Aug. 10, when they called up first baseman Rhys Hoskins, Philadelphia is 19-23. Since Sept. 1, the Phillies are 11-9. After a long season of losing, now with young blood, the Phillies are tasting victory.
Tonight, manager Pete Mackanin is sticking with a lineup that's worked, with Hoskins batting cleanup, Nick Williams in right field and hitting third and J.P. Crawford batting eighth and playing third base.
With Freddy Galvis manning shortstop, Crawford has been seeing a lot of time at third base recently as the Phillies get a long look at Crawford in the majors.
The 22-year-old has not looked out of place either. Crawford on Thursday made four exceptional defensive plays in the Phillies' 5-4 loss to the Dodgers.
In addition to his defense, Crawford is heating up offensively too. He still has yet to hit his first career homer, but he is coming off a three-walk game Thursday. Crawford has eight walks in his last five games.
"He was advertised as someone who controls the strike zone," Mackanin said Thursday, "and he's proven that he can do that."
On Thursday, Crawford said the transition to third base has been seamless, and now that he's gotten his footing down in the big leagues, he's more comfortable in the batter's box.
Taking three of four games against the Dodgers with a team powered by young players — Hoskins, Williams, Odubel Herrera — gave Crawford hope for things to come.
"It showed me that we can compete with the best teams in the league," Crawford said Thursday. "I just can't wait for what next year has in store for us."
The Phillies will look to continue their recent success Friday night against the Braves. Ben Lively (3-6, 3.94) will make his second-to-last start of the season.
Lively has faced the Braves just once, his second career start on June 8. The right-hander allowed three runs on nine hits over seven innings in a 3-1 loss.
He's second behind RHP Aaron Nola on the Phillies with nine quality starts. His last outing on Sept. 16 against Oakland was cut short because of rain.
Here is the Phillies' full lineup:
1. Cesar Hernandez, 2B
2. Freddy Galvis, SS
3. Nick Williams, RF
4. Rhys Hoskins, 1B
5. Aaron Altherr, LF
6. Odubel Herrera, CF
7. Jorge Alfaro, C
8. J.P. Crawford, 3B
9. Ben Lively, P
And the Braves' lineup:
1. Ender Inciarte, CF
2. Ozzie Albies, 2B
3. Freddie Freeman, 1B
4. Nick Markakis, RF
5. Kurt Suzuki, C
6. Johan Camargo, 3B
7. Lane Adams, LF
8. Dansby Swanson, SS
9. Sean Newcomb, P