Successful weekend against Mets somehow leaves Phillies in decent spot with 20 games left

Successful weekend against Mets somehow leaves Phillies in decent spot with 20 games left

NEW YORK — If you were told on opening day, or even at the All-Star break, that the Phillies would lose so many key players to injury and go half the season with their top players underperforming ... how would a two-game deficit with 20 to play sound?

That's where the Phillies somehow find themselves after a successful weekend at Citi Field. They won Sunday's 4-hour, 29-minute marathon — the second-longest nine-inning game in Phillies history and longest in Mets history — 10-7. 

The Cubs lost three of four this weekend to the Brewers. The surging Diamondbacks lost on Sunday. The wild-card standings look like this with 20 games left:

Nationals: 79-63
Cubs: 76-66
Diamondbacks: 75-68
Phillies: 74-68
Brewers: 74-68
Mets: 72-70

The Cubs have a much more favorable remaining schedule, but they've also lost two big pieces over the last week: Javier Baez and Craig Kimbrel.

The odds are stacked against the Phillies but they do not face an insurmountable deficit. If they play well at home this week against the Braves and Red Sox, who knows.

This was a good win Sunday. The Phillies fell behind 3-0 and were facing Noah Syndergaard. They were forced to turn to the overworked bullpen in the fifth inning. Bryce Harper (hand) did not start again and J.T. Realmuto had the day off. Harper played just three innings in the series but should be ready to start Monday.

"I think it's certainly an indication that we still have a lot of fight left in us," manager Gabe Kapler said. "Coming into this series having lost a couple of games in Cincinnati, to see us come back and fight like we did today was definitely encouraging.

"We know we have a long way to go. We have a tough schedule and we're gonna have to be especially resilient to make it through this difficult stretch but I believe in that club. I believe in the fight of that club and I think the best indication is how much guys want to be up at the plate in the big spot, how much guys run to the bat rack to the be the guy."

Vince Velasquez took "full responsibility" for the length of the game, referring to his long and laborious first inning in which he retired the first two batters before going walk, homer, homer, single, walk, groundout. That was definitely a tone-setter.

Velasquez recovered after that first inning to give the Phillies a chance to come back, which they did. He encountered trouble in the fifth and that's when the bullpen parade began for both teams.

"This is a great way to develop some solid momentum going into the homestand," Velasquez said. "It would be awesome if we win that Atlanta series. We have Atlanta and Boston, perfect. It would create some serious momentum. We've got Noles (Aaron Nola) kicking it off and that gives us a good chance to continue what we've been doing."

Long, long afternoon. A prime example of why the September rules need to change and will change beginning next season. The Eagles game started 10 minutes earlier than the Phillies' game and ended about 90 minutes earlier. 

"It was a long game but it didn't seem like anyone was exhausted," Kapler said. "Guys were still on the edge of their seats in the dugout. We're a little bit tapped and at the same time, we're pretty gritty. I'm proud of that."

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Phillies move closer to hiring hitting coach, but could they lose staff to Gabe Kapler and Giants?

Phillies move closer to hiring hitting coach, but could they lose staff to Gabe Kapler and Giants?

SCOTTSDALE, Arizona — The Phillies are looking to have a hitting coach in place in the next week or so, according to general manager Matt Klentak.

The field of candidates has been thinned with veteran hitting coach Chili Davis returning to the New York Mets. By all indications, that leaves Joe Dillon and Matt Stairs as the two finalists for the Phillies’ job, though it’s not uncommon for late candidates to emerge. The Phillies interviewed both Dillon and Stairs last week and were in contact with Davis, as well. Dillon has been Washington’s assistant hitting coach the last two seasons. Stairs was the Phillies’ hitting coach in 2017 and the Padres’ hitting coach in 2018.

Dillon might be the favorite because of his close connection to Kevin Long, Washington’s hitting coach. Long was hitting coach with the Yankees during Joe Girardi’s time as manager of that club. Girardi, the Phillies' new manager, has great respect for Long’s work and Long has called Dillon the best assistant hitting coach in baseball.

“I think we’re looking for the best possible candidate to work with our guys, and obviously with a new manager it’s going to be important that the person is on the same page philosophically with Joe,” Klentak said of the hitting coach job. “We’re interviewing people with a variety of backgrounds, some of whom this would be their first time as a hitting coach and others that have done it for some time. We’re just looking for the best possible candidate. We’re not going in with a specific resume that someone has to have.”

At the moment, hitting coach is the only opening on the Phillies’ coaching staff. However, it would not be surprising if another spot were to open now that the San Francisco Giants have named Gabe Kapler manager. Kapler was fired as Phillies skipper last month and could seek to take a member or two of the Phillies’ holdover coaching staff with him. Potential departures could include first base/outfield coach Paco Figueroa, assistant hitting coach Pedro Guerrero, catching instructor Craig Driver or bullpen coach Jim Gott. All are under contract with the Phillies for 2020 but the club might let one or two of them go so Girardi could have more say in building his coaching staff. Girardi oversaw the hiring of pitching coach Bryan Price and, obviously, has much say on the hitting coach hire.

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Giants fans seem to absolutely hate the Gabe Kapler hire

Giants fans seem to absolutely hate the Gabe Kapler hire

Gabe Kapler was a pretty polarizing figure in Philadelphia with a slight majority of fans disapproving of his managerial style and general demeanor as skipper of the Phillies. He had some progressive fans in his corner though.

Based on the reactions to the San Francisco Giants' announcement of Kapler as their next manager, you'd think he was the worst thing to ever happen to the game of baseball.

Fans were not pleased with the hire. Not one bit. From fans saying they're no longer going to be fans of the team after 40+ years of fandom to people saying they plan on canceling their season tickets, there was plenty of vitriol directed at the Giants. Here's a sampling:

And a check in from Philly:

Anyway, that's just a sampling. Go check out the Giants' actual tweet to see some of the brutal replies. And good luck to you, Giants fans. You will need it.