With a three-game sweep of the Mets and an eight-game winning streak in early August, the Phillies took a 2.5-game lead in the NL East over the Mets and Braves and looked like the favorites to win the division.
The Mets were imploding, the Braves had looked good but were still without Ronald Acuna Jr. for the rest of the year and Philadelphia had finally gotten everything clicking from their starting pitching to the lineup. They then proceeded to go 4-9 and allow a hot Braves team to overtake them in the standings.
Now 4.5 games back of the division lead with just under 40 games to go, time is running out for the Phillies to get to the playoffs, and Bryce Harper is certainly feeling the need for urgency.
"We've got to win games," Harper said Tuesday. "It doesn't matter what the other teams are doing or anything like that. If we don't win games, nothing else really matters. "A lot of teams in our division tonight, from looking at the scoreboard, were going to lose and we lost so we didn't gain any ground. If we're not winning games, we're not going to be where we need to be, so we need to pick up our offense. Our pitching has thrown really well so we need to be able to go out there (Wednesday night) and get some early runs for (Zack) Wheeler."
Harper is in his third season since leaving the Nationals to sign a 13-year, $330 million contract with the Phillies, and he's still looking for his first trip to the postseason with his new club.
He's been nothing short of excellent this season, slashing .290/.409/.558 with 23 home runs and 52 RBI, but the rest of the squad hasn't been nearly as consistent. In just this poor 13-game stretch alone, the Phillies scored two or fewer runs in eight of them.
If they can't make up enough ground on Atlanta and lose the division, it will extend the longest playoff hiatus of Harper's career. He hasn't played in a postseason game since 2017 and there are only so many years in a star's prime.
"As a team, we've got to get better and we need to do it right now," Harper said. "We're wasting time. We've got to get going."