Phillies nearly end August in dramatic, fitting fashion before blown save

Phillies nearly end August in dramatic, fitting fashion before blown save originally appeared on NBC Sports Philadelphia

The Phillies nearly ended August in fitting fashion, with two go-ahead home runs from their two hottest and highest-paid players in the final three innings of their series finale against the Angels.

Trea Turner brought them back from a two-run deficit with a three-run shot in the sixth inning, and after Gregory Soto allowed two runs in the eighth, Bryce Harper put them back in front with a dramatic two-run bomb of his own, No. 300 for his career.

Harper came out for a curtain call as the Citizens Bank Park crowd of 34,655 went nuts. The Phillies needed three more outs to complete a sweep.

Craig Kimbrel, however, was unable to close it out. The first batter he faced in the ninth reached on a dropped third strike and scored on a sacrifice fly. With two outs, Kimbrel allowed a two-run homer to Brandon Drury in a 10-8 Phillies loss.

The Phils finished their homestand 7-2 and are 74-59 overall. They’ll end the night no worse than three games ahead of the second wild-card team.

August 2023 was a month they wished would never end. The Phillies went 17-10 with 59 home runs, 13 more than they had in any month ever. They led the majors in homers and slugging percentage and ranked second to the Braves in runs scored.

Really, though, the hot streak dates much farther back. The Phillies are 49-27 since June 3, trailing only the Braves in record and run differential. They rank first in MLB over that span in ERA, third in batting average, fourth in home runs and OPS and fifth in runs.

Harper played like an MVP in August, hitting .361 with 10 homers, nine doubles, a triple, 24 RBI and 23 runs scored in 26 games.

Turner has hit .370 in his last 23 games with 19 extra-base hits. His OPS is the highest it’s been since April 23.

The Phillies have scored 99 runs in their last 13 games, an average of 7.6 per night. The majority of damage Wednesday was done by Turner and Harper, but Nick Castellanos and Garrett Stubbs also had multi-hit games and Brandon Marsh walked four times. Marsh is hitting .290 with a .381 on-base percentage. Over the last 13 years, Harper is the only Phillie to reach those numbers over a full season.

Cristopher Sanchez’ string of solid starts came to an end Wednesday. He gave up five runs in 4⅔ innings, falling short of completing five frames for the first time in a dozen starts. This was only his second time giving up more than three runs. Still, the Phillies are 7-7 in his starts. They were 2-10 earlier this season in starts by Bailey Falter and openers out of the No. 5 spot.

The Phils are off Thursday before beginning a six-game road trip Friday night. The first three games are in Milwaukee, the last three are in San Diego. After they finish with the Brewers, the Phillies have only one team with a winning record left on their schedule: the Braves.

The Phillies will avoid both Corbin Burnes and Brandon Woodruff in Milwaukee but they will see right-handed strikeout machine Freddy Peralta in Game 1 Friday. Peralta has been one of the hottest pitchers in baseball and a major reason for the Brewers’ second-half push. He has a 1.75 ERA with 59 strikeouts in 36 innings as the Brewers have won each of his last six starts.

Zack Wheeler starts Friday and Aaron Nola Saturday. Ranger Suarez could make his return on Sunday as long as Friday’s bullpen session goes well. If so, Taijuan Walker would be pushed back to the Padres series.

They should also have outfielder Cristian Pache back this weekend as MLB rosters expand Friday (September 1) from 26 to 28.

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