Ironically enough, both of the Philadelphia Phillies’ last two losses have come on a Thursday against the Miami Marlins. Note to self, remember that trend for next year.
Anyway, the Phillies are back at on Friday night after taking seven of nine games against the Marlins and Washington Nationals over the past 10 days. Now, they have a more difficult nine-game stretch ahead of them against the Atlanta Braves and the Toronto Blue Jays. The stretch begins with a three-game tilt in Atlanta beginning Friday night before their final regular season home stand against the Blue Jays and Braves on Tuesday.
Going into Friday’s series, the Phillies stand with a 2.5 game lead over the San Diego Padres for the second wild card position. The Braves, meanwhile, own an eight-game lead over the good guys for the first wild card slot, along with home field advantage in the wild card round. Typically an eight-game lead over an opponent would be relatively secure with only 19 games remaining in the season. But, the Phillies and Braves will play seven times in the next 10 days.
If the Phils can manage to go 6-1 against the Braves, all of a sudden their eight-game lead shrinks to only three. Nothing is guaranteed, of course, but the Phillies have a chance to make up a lot of ground very quickly.
But that only happens if they win one game at a time.
Phillies vs. Braves Pitching Matchup
Ranger Suarez (9-5, 3.62 ERA) vs. Max Fried (13-6, 2.50 ERA)
The friendly neighborhood Ranger kicks off the series for the Phils on Friday night. Suarez came out with the win after allowing four runs in 6.2 innings against the Nationals on Saturday the 10th. The last time Suarez pitched against the Braves came on July 25th. The Phillies took the win in that matchup as Suarez pitched five innings allowing three runs, all unearned, off of four hits.
Suarez’s opponent, meanwhile, is National League Cy Young Award candidate Max Fried. Miami’s Sandy Alcantara is almost certain to claim the Cy Young, but Fried has certainly earned a shot at the title as well. In two starts against the Fightin’s on the season, Fried has averaged six innings and 2.5 runs allowed per start. In fact, Fried has not allowed more than two earned runs in an outing since his last start against the Phillies on July 25th where he allowed three earned runs.
The Phillies are set as the underdogs tonight by 1.5 runs. With the pitching mismatch of Suarez vs. Fried, that cannot be surprising. Given, however, how much success the Phillies have recently found against Alcantara, expect the Phillies to pick up a few runs against Fried tonight.
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AP Photo/Matt Slocum