Philadelphia Phillies: Does sweeping the Cubs signify a Wild Card push?

(Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)
(Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images) /

After sweeping the Chicago Cubs with a walk-off grand slam by Bryce Harper, are the Philadelphia Phillies showing signs of a real push for the Wild Card?

The Philadelphia Phillies took on the Chicago Cubs in Citizen’s Bank Park for a three-game NL battle and walked away with a series sweep – what could be better?

Not only did the Phillies walk away with the series sweep, but they did so while also pushing themselves to just one game back in the Wild Card race with a 63-58 record.

Of course, a series sweep is always impressive and praiseworthy, but the Phillies were in no way expected to pull off such a feat. With the team struggling at the plate over the last few weeks, a decision was made to fire John Mallee as the team’s hitting coach; replacing him with former Phillies manager Charlie Manuel.

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Although the team’s first game against the Cubs was the day of Mallee’s firing, some could say the offensive spark was due to Manuel’s signing.

Sure, scoring four runs in a 4-2 victory isn’t eye-popping but it proved to be a promising start for the rest of the series.

Even with the Phillies scoring the first run of the game in the bottom of the third, the Cubs answered right back by tieing things up in the next inning. The Phillies followed it up by taking the lead again in the fifth just for the Cubs to once again tie it up in sixth before the Phillies could add-on a run in the seventh behind J.T. Realmuto’s double and one in the eighth to hold onto the lead. Of course, only letting up two runs is proof the pitchers did their jobs with Jason Vargas going six innings with just five hits and the Cubs only two runs allowed. Even though Philadelphia sent out three pitchers after Vargas, they each ate up an inning without giving up a run or hit.

In the very next game of the series and the first game with Manuel in the dugout, the Phillies bats exploded. Not only did they take an immediate two nothing lead but they added two more onto that in the second inning before tacking on six more runs for a quick three-inning 10-0 lead. For a game highlighted by the pitching match-up between Cole Hamels and Aaron Nola, Bryce Harper and Realmuto put in serious work as the only two players with home runs in the game – tallying up seven combined RBIs on the night.

Nola’s night shouldn’t go without praise either, as the Phillies ace struck out seven batters in as many innings while only earning one run off a solo homer.

Following up a 4-2 win over Chicago with an 11-1 blasting grabbed the attention of fans with one game left to go in a defining series.

However, things didn’t look so good for the Phillies in Game 3, as the team went down early by one in the third inning before quickly finding themselves down 5-0 in the fifth.

The Phillies lineup looked dead, only hitting the ball four times in seven innings, before getting two more in the eighth and scoring their first run of the game. This would bring them to the bottom of the ninth where Philly would have their last chance to tie it up or walk it off.

Jean Segura would lead off the inning and in familiar fashion to how the game was going flew out to left field, starting the inning with one out and down by four. However, with a little luck, Cesar Hernandez was able to reach first off an error before Scott Kingery hit a simple single to get runners on first and second. This would be followed up by an RBI single from pinch hitter Brad Miller. Now with Kingery on third and Miller on first in a 5-2 game, Roman Quinn would come up to a bat hitting in another run while also getting men on first and second base and chipping away at the lead to only go down by two.

This would make the Phillies situation much more hopeful as Rhys Hoskins steps up to the plate with the powerful ability to tie it up or win it. However, Hoskins wouldn’t get a hit, a homer, or even an out. Instead, he would be hit by a pitch. This set up the perfect outcome as Hoskins trotted over to first base, leading Harper into the batting box.

With Harper up to bat with a 2-2 count, one out and the bases loaded, he let the bat rip into a strike down the middle, sending the ball to the second deck of the stadium, a 413 feet walk-off grand-slam for the big man campus. An electric feeling lit up the ballpark as the ball soared and Harper sprinted around the bases jumping into a crowd of teammates surrounding home plate.

Not only was this come from behind win a huge moment in Harper’s career as a Phillie but it could be a defying moment for the Phillies’ season.

Taking on a Cubs team that is currently holding the second Wild Card spot was no easy task for the Phil’s. Still, they were not only able to come out and take a game or two from the series, but they were able to sweep them while having a back and forth game, a blowout, and a come from behind victory.

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If the Phillies are still serious about making a postseason push, this is precisely what they need to do against their upcoming opponents. Of course, they won’t win every game or every series moving forward, but if the Philadelphia Phillies can keep up this type of performance and never give up attitude, there’s no reason they shouldn’t be able to steal one of the two Wild Card spots.