MLB Wild Card: JT Realmuto, Kyle Gibson lead Phillies to sixth straight win – NBC Sports

MLB Wild Card: JT Realmuto, Kyle Gibson lead Phillies to sixth straight win - NBC Sports

The Phillies keep jumping on basement dwellers and stifling them early, leaving the weakest teams in the National League with little chance of a comeback.

It bodes well with another 13 games in a row against sub-.500 clubs.

Just as they did Friday night and all week, the Phillies rode an early offense to a relatively comfortable victory. They scored three runs in the first inning on JT Realmuto’s bases-clearing double and cruised from there in a 6-0 victory, their sixth in a row.

The Phils outscored their opponents 22-1 in the first three innings of those six games.

“You know, last year, that was our downfall, honestly,” pitcher Kyle Gibson said of the Phillies’ ability to beat teams buried in the standings.

“This year, our mindset coming in was a little sharper and with a little more edge than we’ve had in the past. It’s easy to get cocky or complacent when playing these teams. Especially lately, we’ve done a great job of coming out against these teams and getting the lead early and really setting the tone for the game.

“I’ve been on those teams where you lose 100 games and when you give up runs early, it feels like, ‘Here we go again.’ I would guess some of the teams we played had that feeling. That’s what you want as the team that’s playing for the playoffs. You want them to get into that mood and it’s going to be hard for them to come back. That was the biggest difference.”

Realmuto has been one of baseball’s best sluggers over the last five weeks. He has driven in 26 runs in his last 27 games, fourth in the majors during that span behind only Paul Goldschmidt, Aaron Judge and Pete Alonso.

Realmuto has an extra-base hit and/or RBI in eight straight games and the chances should continue with Bryce Harper back hitting in front of him. Harper, in his second game since returning from a broken left thumb, singled in the first inning just as he did Friday. It loaded the bases for Realmuto. Harper was later intentionally walked twice.

“Since I’ve been here, we’ve pretty much underplayed our competition at times,” Realmuto said. “For me, that’s a big difference in our season. The teams we’ve had to deal with, we’ve played well against all season.”

The Phillies have opened up a nice cushion in the wild card race. They are in the second of three wild-card spots with a 2½-game lead over the Padres and a five-game lead over the Brewers.

There are a lot of really bad teams across baseball this season, and since the Cubs’ elimination of the All-Star break, the Phillies are 18-2 against clubs with losing records.

Since June 1, the Phillies have had five different winning streaks of at least five games. At 72-55, they’re as far over .500 as they’ve been since the final day of the 2011 season, and it’s been that long since they’ve had so many hitters hot at once.

The Phillies are 23-9 in their last 32 games. Nick Castellanos, Alec Bohm and Realmuto are each hitting between .323 and .333 during that stretch. Bryson Stott hit .295 with a pop. Jean Segura hasn’t returned in all that time, but he’s hitting .344 with a .427 on-base percentage in his last 19 games. And he is now the 8-hole hitter.

Remember when Kyle Schwarber carried the Phillies’ offense from June 1 to mid-July? Schwarber has one home run over the last three weeks and the Phils went 14-7. They face inferior pitching and sloppy defenses, but they find ways to score even when their home run hitters aren’t going deep.

Gibson earned the win in his 25th start, improving to 9-5 with a 4.08 ERA. He struck out nine over seven scoreless innings in one of his best starts of the year.

The Phils look to sweep the seven-game season series against the Pirates Sunday afternoon behind Noah Syndergaard, whose four starts as a Phillie have all resulted in wins.

“Sept. 1 might be a little early to start thinking about it, but when you’re sitting in a playoff spot, it’s easier to think about it,” Gibson said. “You try to fight those thoughts until you can clinch and until you can get to that moment, but absolutely, it’s something you think about.”

Thirty-five games remain.

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