MLB Wild Card: Phillies watch Brewers lose, then beat Nationals to increase playoff lead – NBC Sports

MLB Wild Card: Phillies watch Brewers lose, then beat Nationals to increase playoff lead - NBC Sports

WASHINGTON — The Phillies needed to win two games on Friday. But when the latter stages of Hurricane Ian made that impossible, they did the next best thing.

They won one.

They will be looking for two on Saturday.

If Ian cooperates.

Desperate for wins to maintain their lead over the Milwaukee Brewers for the final National League wild-card playoff spot, the Phillies defeated the Washington Nationals, 5-1, in the first game of a vital four-game series on Friday afternoon. The two teams were supposed to play a second game on Friday night, but that game was postponed due to rain about 30 minutes before the scheduled first pitch.

Saturday’s forecast is not promising but the teams will try to play two again. A separate reception doubleheader is planned for the 1 and 7 p.m. Kyle Gibson will start Game 1 for the Phillies and Noah Syndergaard will get the ball for Game 2.

If rain prevents again on Saturday, the teams will attempt to play a doubleheader on Sunday. A single game with a 1:35 pm start time is already scheduled for that day.

If weather prevents the Phillies and Nationals from completing the four-game series, the Phillies would return to Washington to play a game on Thursday, the day before the playoffs are set to begin, if that game affects the playoff race.

The Phillies are scheduled to close the regular season with games in Houston on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday.

After the disaster that was Chicago, the Phillies were very happy to get one win Friday afternoon. The win pushed their lead over Milwaukee to a full game, but stay tuned, the Brewers were set to play the Miami Marlins on Friday night so there will be more movement in the standings.

Before arriving in Washington, the Phillies were swept by the Cubs in Chicago, extending their losing skid to five at a most inopportune time. The Phillies’ offense was brutal, scoring just three runs and going without a home in the three games at Wrigley Field. That’s why Rhys Hoskins’ first-inning homer against Washington right-hander Erick Fedde was so huge Friday.

“It brings a little more energy and noise in the dugout,” Hoskins said of the weather, “but I think, really, just a first-inning run is going to go a long way for us there. I think everybody needs to take a deep breath, knowing we can still score runs.

“Again, Chicago wasn’t good, plain and simple, but we know we’re still in it. We still have a chance as long as we keep focusing on what’s in front of us.”

The Phillies, who haven’t been to the postseason since 2011, do control their own destiny. With six games remaining, their magic number over the Brewers is five. That includes a tie earned by winning the season series against the Brewers.

The Brewers had a chance to pull even with the Phillies on Thursday night but blew a late 2-0 lead when Miami’s Avisail Garcia clubbed a grand slam in the top of the eighth inning to give his club a 4-2 victory.

Once upon a time, the Marlins were Phillies killers, runners of the Phillies’ postseason hopes. This time, they were Phillies relievers. A Brewers win would have pushed them a half game ahead of the Phillies entering Friday’s schedule.

The Phillies were riding from the airport to the team hotel in Washington when Garcia belted the grand slam that kept the Phillies ahead of the Brewers.

“We just landed,” Hoskins said. “We were on the bus, all huddled around a phone. It was pretty cool to watch.”

He smiled.

“I’m a big fan of Avisail Garcia.”

In addition to the first-inning homer, Hoskins had an RBI single in Friday’s win. Bailey Falter, roughed up by Atlanta in his previous start, threw six shutout innings.

“After my piss-poor performance in my last outing, it felt good to go out there and give the team a chance to win,” Falter said. “The boys earned it. I was just happy I delivered for them.”

Falter spent the season filling in for injured starters and those who might need rest. He did it pretty well. The team is 7-2 in its last nine starts.

Maybe Avisail Garcia’s grand slam on Thursday night and the Phillies’ win over Washington on Friday afternoon will be the boost that straightens this team out and pushes it to the postseason. Sure, the Phillies have to make some hay against Washington, the majors’ worst team — the Phils are 14-2 against the Nats — as Houston looms next week and the 102-win Astros, who will have a first-round playoff. bye, intend to play their big guns right through the end of the regular season. Justin Verlander, who leads the majors in ERA, will pitch one of the games next week against the Phillies.

Six games remain. The race is tight. But the Phillies remain in the driver’s seat — even after they were soundly crushed in Chicago.

“Chicago stinks,” Hoskins said. “It wore us down. Look, we’re competitors, we worry, we worry probably too much sometimes. But in this game, you can’t worry about things for too long. We had to flow it. We’re (in front of Milwaukee). If we keep win games, we’ll be where we want to be.”

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