Pittsburgh Pirates

2020 MLB schedule likely ends one historic 133-season streak for Phillies

2020 MLB schedule likely ends one historic 133-season streak for Phillies

The Phillies released their 60-game 2020 schedule on Monday, a condensed slate of games in which the Phils face just nine unique opponents.

The Phillies' lack of schedule diversity will make for a weird year, and it also almost certainly brings a screeching halt to one extremely fun, extremely old streak.

As Pittsburgh Pirates broadcaster Joe Block pointed out Monday, the Phillies and the Pirates - or, more accurately, Pittsburgh and Philadelphia - have a 133-season-long streak going, dating all the way back to 1887:

That streak, which began with a game between the Pittsburgh Alleghenys and the Philadelphia Quakers, will (almost certainly) end this season, as the two sides aren't scheduled to meet during the regular season.

The first-ever meeting between the Pennsylvania squads came on May 30, 1887. The teams split a double-header in Pittsburgh, but the Quakers technically won the first matchup, 2-1, in one hour and 55 minutes. The Quakers finished that season on a 17-game winning streak. Good stuff, Quakers.

After a few years of matchups between the Alleghenys and Quakers, the teams adopted their current nicknames - the Phillies in 1890, and the Pirates a year later - and kept rolling. 

Since then, the teams have faced off at least once per year, a streak that will end this year unless the Pirates and Phillies reel off a pair of improbable postseason runs.

How improbable? As of Wednesday, FoxBet lists the Pirates at +8600 to win the NL Central, the worst odds in the division by a country mile, while listing the Phillies at +450 to win the NL East, second-worst in the division.

Never say never, I suppose, but it's probably safe to bid adieu to this centuries-spanning streak and start preparing for a new one in 2021.

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5 takeaways after Phillies finally make a bad team look bad

5 takeaways after Phillies finally make a bad team look bad

BOX SCORE 

This time, the Phillies made a bad team look like a bad team.

After losing series this month to the lowly White Sox, Marlins and Padres, the Phillies manhandled the Pirates Wednesday night to claim a series win.

Here are the top five takeaways from the Phillies' 12-3 win over Pittsburgh:

1. Good signs from Hoskins

Batting fourth for the first time since Aug. 4, Hoskins hit an opposite-field triple in his first at-bat. He missed a home run by about two feet when the ball clanged off the out-of-town scoreboard in right-center.

It was the second straight night that Hoskins has driven a ball to the opposite field. It is a baseball cliché that a hitter is "going best" when he's using the opposite field, but it's especially true of Hoskins, who pulls the ball as frequently as any right-handed hitter in the majors.

In his second AB, Hoskins hit an RBI double down the left-field line to score Bryce Harper.

Phillies manager Gabe Kapler considered sitting Hoskins Wednesday but opted against it after having a conversation with his first baseman. It paid dividends in the series finale against Pittsburgh.

Surprisingly, it was Hoskins' fifth triple of the season, five more than he had in 2017 and 2018 combined.

It was his first game with multiple extra-base hits since July 24 in Detroit.

2. Beating bad teams

About time the Phillies won a series against an inferior opponent. After missing opportunities in series losses to the White Sox, Padres and Marlins this month, the Phillies took two of three from the Pirates, who are 12-32 since the All-Star break.

The Phillies are just 29-26 this season against teams with losing records. They haven't had nearly enough laughers like Wednesday night's where they overpower bad pitching and just pound a team into the ground.

From now until the end of the season, the Phillies have only two series remaining against teams currently under .500: Sept. 2-5 in Cincinnati and the final series of the regular season at home against the Marlins.

3. Vinny does enough

Unlike last Friday in Miami when he blew a seven-run lead, Vince Velasquez made an early advantage stand up. He allowed two runs over five innings — which the Phillies will happily take from him every single time — on a two-run shot by Josh Bell.

Velasquez was finished after just 75 pitches because the Phillies did not want him going through the heart of Pittsburgh's order a third time. Given the massive difference in production from Bell vs. lefties compared to his work against righties, it was a pretty straightforward decision for Kapler.

Velasquez had a 3.21 ERA in the five starts preceding his Miami meltdown. He's kept the Phillies in the game six of the last seven times he's taken the mound.

4. The real deal

J.T. Realmuto homered, tripled and singled Wednesday and is bearing down on a number of new career-highs.

His 32 doubles are a career-high. 

His 34 runners caught stealing are a career-high. 

His 20 home runs are one shy of his career-high.

His 69 RBI are five shy of his career-high.

His 37 walks are one shy of his career-high.

His .821 OPS is four points lower than his career-high.

Yeah ... worthwhile trade.

5. Dickerson's damage

Corey Dickerson's solo home run began a five-run fifth inning and gave him 23 RBI in 21 games as a Phillie. Of his 23 hits with the Phils, 13 have gone for extra bases.

He has been a massive offensive addition for the Phillies. He can hit anywhere in the lineup, be a run producer because of his power and a table-setter because of his .300 batting average, and he can move on the basepaths.

Jay Bruce saved the Phillies from further despair in June and Dickerson has done so in August. The Phillies acquired them while giving up barely anything in return.

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Rhys Hoskins' untimely error costs Phillies vs. Pirates

Rhys Hoskins' untimely error costs Phillies vs. Pirates

BOX SCORE 

Rhys Hoskins’ struggles spilled over onto the field Tuesday night. The Phillies’ first baseman dropped a throw that would have completed a double play and ended the top of the ninth inning. The error allowed the Pittsburgh Pirates to score the go-ahead run and claim a 5-4 victory over the Phillies at Citizens Bank Park.

Hoskins entered the game hitting .164 since the All-Star break.

The Phillies entered the game just a game back in the NL wild-card race. They are 68-63 with 31 games to play.

While Hoskins’ error was costly, it was not the Phillies’ only self-inflicted wound in the late innings.

Hector Neris walked two batters with one out in the top of the ninth to put the eventual go-ahead run on base.

And the Phillies’ offense could not capitalize on leadoff doubles in the seventh and eighth innings. J.T. Realmuto died on third in the seventh and Cesar Hernandez never advanced from second in the eighth. Those were two big wasted chances in a tie game.

The amazing Realmuto

The Phillies catcher threw out another would-be base-stealer. That’s four in two games and 34 this season, by far the most in the majors.

Stay hot

Corey Dickerson, who had just nine hits in 42 at-bats against left-handed pitching this season, had a double and a single in his first two at-bats, both against lefty Steven Brault. Dickerson’s single in the third drove in his 12th run in the last six games.

Smyly’s night

For the second straight start, lefty Drew Smyly did a pretty good job limiting damage and keeping his club in the game. Yeah, he gave up a triple, a homer and a single to open the game, but he kept the damage to two runs and picked up some easy innings after that before giving up a two-run homer in the sixth. Smyly left trailing, 4-3. The Phillies tied the game in the bottom of the sixth on a pinch-hit homer by Logan Morrison.

Coming around at the plate?

Hoskins may have made some progress with his swing. He has appeared pull-happy lately. But after striking out in the first inning (he took three fastballs and struck out on five pitches), he scorched a single up the middle. Later, he flied out to right field twice. Hoskins is at his best when he’s waiting on pitches and using the whole field, so his at-bats were promising.

Fan favorite

A day after winning the game with a home run in the bottom of the 11th then taking a few verbal jabs at Phillies fans, Sean Rodriguez got the start at third base. He had a nice game, reaching base twice on a hit by pitch and a double. He also scored a run and made a nice play in the field.

Rodriguez was booed in pre-game introductions and before both at-bats (see story). A mixture of boos and cheers rained down on Rodriguez as he stood on second base after his double in the fourth inning. Rodriguez took it all in, shook his head and muttered something to himself.

Health check

Scott Kingery had some pre-game tests on his aching abdomen and did not start the game, but he was cleared to pinch-hit in the bottom of the eighth. He struck out to strand a runner at second base.

Up next

The series concludes on Wednesday night. Vince Velasquez (5-7, 4.93) pitches for the Phillies against Pittsburgh right-hander Mitch Keller (1-2, 7.24).

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