PHILADELPHIA — It got more interesting for the Phillies on Sunday.
They beat the Mets 4-1 in Game 2 of Saturday’s double-header at Citizens Bank Park to secure their lead against San Diego for the second NL Wild Card. It was followed by an 8-2 loss in Game 1, which began with a Mets fan inexplicably taking the first step, and a 7-2 loss in Friday’s series opening. The Phillies are 5-13 against New York this season, which has resulted in serious handshakes among Phillies fans wondering if their team can beat the top teams in the National League.
But inside the Phillies clubhouse, players claim they can.
“We know what a team we are,” said Phillies veteran Zack Wheeler. “We need to win some games against some of the better teams like this. But at the end of the day we play well. It was against smaller teams, but these are games you have to win. And we won those.
“You know you have to win these games to get where we want to be. We all know this. We know what kind of team we are. We’re just going to keep pushing.”
A victory in Sunday’s series finale could change the narrative about the Mets. First, it will split the series. That’s no small feat, considering the Phillies hit the weekend 0-5 in a series against New York this season.
Philadelphia was a 3-9 combo in their first four series against New York, but each of these came with Joe Girardi at the helm. It was a different team with a different vibe.
The Phillies played the Mets for the first time under interim manager Rob Thomson at Citi Field last weekend. They lost two-thirds, but in the second game they took a big hit in winning this series. If the Phillies win on Sunday, they can leave the court saying they’re playing better against New York, which they can play if those teams face off at the end of the season. Considering Wheeler and Aaron Nola are 0-9 this year in their kick-off games against the Mets, they might think it’s time if it does.
But the club is confident. Philly is 61-41 (.598) against everyone outside New York this season, including end-of-season contenders like the Dodgers (4-3), Cardinals (4-3), Braves (6-6), Padres (4-3). ). and Brewers (4-2).
“The playoffs are a funny thing, man,” said Nick Castellanos. “Anything can happen, you know? We have a really good team. Besides, we’re not all healthy. So it should be interesting to see what the Phillies look like when we shoot all the cylinders.”
The Phillies won Game 2 due to an impressive start from left-handed Bailey Falter, who only allowed one run in six innings. Falter filled the bases and allowed a run on the first inning to score on a wild field. Jeff McNeil then hit a sinking line into right field with two outs, but Castellanos made a nice slide catch to finish the frame.
“It could have gone either way after the first hit,” Falter said. “J.T. [Realmuto] and [pitching coach] Caleb [Cotham] He calmed me down at the right time and we started from there. Big support to Castellanos for this floating capture. This was huge. Game changer, I believe.”
Falter retired 10 hitters in a row at one point. In fifth place, he found himself in a jam with the runners in the first and second and two exits, but hit Starling Marte, who was swinging on a 2-2 fastball at the top of the zone.
Realmuto scored a single in the first round. Alec Bohm doubled down to score two points in the third round. Rhys Hoskins entered an insurance race for eighth place. The Phillies bullfighter took care of the rest, including six saves from David Robertson.
The Phillies needed six outs from Robertson because they were without Seranthony Domínguez. He was “concerned” when he felt tightness and swelling in his right triceps after playing catch on Saturday morning and said he should have known more on Sunday.
Dominguez’s health is critical to the Phillies’ success, but on Saturday night the Phillies enjoyed a rare victory over a one-section opponent.
“We’re at the point where every game we win counts,” Castellanos said. “We’re going through time. I don’t know how many of us are in the division, but it’s no secret that the Mets are a really good baseball team. So we’re doing our best. I hope we get a win tomorrow and we get the games we need to win for the rest of the season and we’re in good shape.”