Coming out of spring training, the Phillies were projected to be a power plant capable of homering their way to victories. But on the cusp of August, Phillies hitters have not cleared the wall with the regularity that was predicted — or needed. The Phils have hit just 135 homers as a team and that’s below the National League average.
Home runs were not a problem Sunday, however. The Phils hit four of them and they accounted for all but one of their runs in an important 9-4 win over the Atlanta Braves at Citizens Bank Park.
The victory was important because it helped the Phils avoid a series sweep after being hammered by a combined score of 24-9 in the first two games. It was important because it helped them remain a game back in the NL wild-card race and that alone might force the front office to address a hole or two as the trade deadline arrives Wednesday at 4 p.m.
“All our goals that we set at the start of the season are still here,” said J.T. Realmuto, who keyed the victory with a fifth-inning grand slam. “We’re one game out of a playoff spot right now with two months to go in the season. It just takes one run. We’re five, six, seven behind the Braves (in the division) — whatever it is. That’s a one-week stretch where we get really hot. Obviously, we feel like we’ve got the team here to really do something special. We’ve just got to put it together.”
Would adding a player or two provide a little jolt to the cause?
“It definitely doesn’t hurt,” Realmuto said. “It’ll tell us where the front office stands and what they see this team doing. But even if something happens, it’s up to the guys in this clubhouse to make it happen.
“I don’t think the front office needed too much convincing, one way or the other. One game out of the wild-card spot is a team that should push for the playoffs, in my opinion. The guys we have in this locker room, we feel we can do it already, but obviously a little help wouldn’t hurt.”
Monday is July 29 and the Phillies have a history of making big deals on that day. Former general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. landed Cliff Lee in 2009, Roy Oswalt in 2010 and Hunter Pence in 2011 — all on July 29.
What will Matt Klentak do?
Whatever he does will probably be more modest than a Lee, an Oswalt or a Pence. Club president Andy MacPhail has indicated that the front office does not believe the Phillies are one piece away from the World Series and Klentak is on record as saying he will be protective of prospects.
Whatever the front office does must be complemented by strong play from the team that was assembled at the outset of the season, the team everyone believed could break a seven-year playoff drought.
The times when everything has come together in one day have been rare for the Phillies in 2019. Sunday was one of those days when things did come together. OK, Aaron Nola had a tough seventh inning and gave up a couple of homers as the Braves cut a six-run lead to two. But Nola was outstanding for six innings, the offense produced and the bullpen — a big out by Adam Morgan on dangerous Freddie Freeman in the seventh and two scoreless innings from Nick Pivetta — was strong in victory. Bryce Harper, Adam Haseley and Rhys Hoskins all joined Realmuto with a home run.
“I’m pretty pleased with the way we swung the bats,” manager Gabe Kapler said.
The Phillies are 17-4 in games at home this season when they’ve hit multiple home runs.
“I think that sometimes we miss our pitch,” Kapler said when asked why he believed the team had not homered as much as projected this season. “We have the capability to put the ball in the air and hit the ball hard more frequently.”
Sunday’s win left the Phillies at five games over .500 with their next three games coming against another wild-card contender, San Francisco.
“We’re a game out of the playoffs right now,” Kapler said. “I think we’re positioned well to make a run. I don’t think the clubs that are battling for those positions are better than us. I think we have the capability with the talent we have in the room to make run.”
Adding some talent from outside won’t hurt. Will the front office do it?
We’ll know soon.
Click here to download the MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Flyers, Sixers and Phillies games easily on your device.