1st- Philadelphia Phillies- 37-28
2nd- Atlanta Braves- 36-29, 1 game back
3rd- New York Mets- 32-33, 5 games back
4th- Washington Nationals- 30-35, 7 games back
5th- Miami Marlins- 23-40, 13 games back
The Phillies looked to be reaching the nadir of their season. After dropping the first to the Padres and extending their losing streak to five games, Andrew McCutchen was lost for the season with an ACL tear. McCutchen was not only on pace to be an All-Star this season but was one of the most productive leadoff hitters in baseball. The recipe for a tailspin was there.
Except, it didn’t happen. The Phillies then won the next two against the Dodgers, with the legend of Jay Bruce leading the way. In Tuesday’s game, Bruce’s second with the Phillies and first start, he hit two home runs, one of which was a grand slam, and knocked in six of the team’s nine runs in a 9-6 win.
Bruce wasn’t done there. He homered again in Wednesday’s game. But this time, rookie Adam Haseley was able to play the offensive hero. Haseley was called up in the wake of the injury to McCutchen and, in his second career game, was the catalyst for two offensive rallies.
After starter Jake Arrieta was tagged for 5 runs in 4 2/3 innings, the Phillies trailed 5-2 heading into the seventh inning. In the seventh, Haseley worked a walk with one out, which led to clutch hits from Cesar Hernandez, Bryce Harper, and Jean Segura, all with two outs and knocking in a total of three runs to tie the game at 5. The following inning, Haseley laced his first career hit down the left field line for a double, scoring Scott Kingery and giving the Phillies the lead.
After yet another bullpen injury, this time to Seranthony Dominguez, Hector Neris had to enter the game with only one out in the eighth inning and work his way out of a bases loaded jam. Neris struck out Ian Kinsler and then got Manny Machado to pop out with help from an over the shoulder catch from Segura after an epic at-bat. Neris then completed the save in the ninth, giving the Phillies a much needed win.
The Phils were able to continue their turnaround against the Reds at home, winning two of three. The highlight of the series came on Saturday afternoon, with Nick Pivetta throwing his first career complete game. Pivetta went the distance in a 4-1 win, giving up just one run on 6 hits with 6 strikeouts and no walks.
Upcoming games- Three at home against Arizona, followed by three in Atlanta
The Braves kicked off their week of games with a series loss to the Pirates in Pittsburgh. The lone win of the series, a 12-9 victory, featured another home run from rookie Austin Riley, his ninth on the season in just 71 career at bats. This one was a three run blast that gave the Braves the lead and was the first of three Braves home runs in the last three innings, with Freddie Freeman and Josh Donaldson joining the fun.
Atlanta was then able to rebound and sweep three games from the Marlins. The Braves erased a four run deficit in the ninth and won it in the twelfth inning to complete the sweep on Sunday.
The biggest news of the week was the Braves signing free agent starter Dallas Keuchel to a one year, $13 million contract. Atlanta hopes the former Cy Young winner will be able to help its beleaguered rotation, which thus far has a 4.23 ERA and has two starters with an ERA over 5.
Upcoming games- Seven game home stand with four against the Pirates and three against the Phillies.
New York took two of three against the Giants at home to start their week. The first win, a 7-0 victory, was keyed by Mets starter Jason Vargas throwing a complete game shutout on Wednesday with only 5 hits and 8 strikeouts to one walk. Vargas has surprisingly been one of the most consistent starters on the Mets, with a 3.57 ERA overall and a 1.85 ERA in his last seven starts. This is after a 2018 season that saw him sport a 5.77 ERA over 20 starts.
The Mets then took two of three from the Rockies at home. The two wins were possible due to strong starting pitching. On Saturday, Steven Matz struck out 10 while allowing three runs in six innings, while on Sunday Noah Syndergaard threw seven innings of one hit ball with 7 strikeouts.
Upcoming games- Two across town against the Yankees, followed by four at home against St. Louis
Washington earned a two game sweep against the White Sox at home in their first action of the week. Tuesday’s win was the 100th in the career of starter Stephen Strasburg. Even though he struggled (5 IP, 5 ER), Anthony Rendon and the Nats offense were able to bail Strasburg out. Rendon went 2-4 with 5 RBIs and a home run in the 9-5 win.
The Nats then lost the first two of a four game series in San Diego by identical scores of 5-4. The second of which was a Padres walk off win courtesy of Austin Hedges’ RBI single to left in the 9th inning to cap off a win in which the Padres trailed 4-3 in the ninth. Washington was able to salvage the last game by a score of 5-2 on the backs of four straight home runs from Howie Kendrick, Trea Turner, Adam Eaton, and Anthony Rendon. It was only the ninth time in MLB history that a team went back-to-back-to-back-to-back.
Upcoming games- Two on the South Side of Chicago against the White Sox, followed by four at home against the Diamondbacks
The Marlins were able to continue their winning ways of late by taking two of three against the Milwaukee Brewers. Tuesday’s win was a 16-0 beatdown in which the Marlins scored a staggering 11 runs in the 5th inning off of 9 hits and 2 walks.
But the Marlins were then swept by the Braves at home, scoring one run combined through the first two games and blowing a 5-1 ninth inning lead in the last game.
Upcoming games- Three at home against the Cardinals, followed by three more at home against the Pirates