By Harvey Hoffman
The Phillies flew to Milwaukee yesterday to open a series tonight against the Brewers.
After their offensive breakout against the Angels last weekend, fans have renewed hope of a Red October.
This morning the Phillies are 4½ games out of the second NL wild card.
“I hate talking about it’s early, it’s early,” Harper said.
“It’s not so early. We’ve got to go. We’ve got to play our game and understand that we’re a good team in here.”
The Phillies open a three-game tonight against the NL Central-leading Milwaukee. Then comes six games at home against the sub-.500 Diamondbacks and Marlins. Then four games at Washington (only the Reds are worse in the NL) and two games at Texas.
That’s 13 straight games from June 10-22 against teams with losing records.
And, yes, even with four straight wins, the Phillies have a losing record at 25-29.
Bryson Stott, one of Harper’s closest friends, hit his first big league home run on Friday and followed with the winner on Sunday.
The 24-year-old infielder made the Phillies out of spring training only to get sent to the minors in late April after Joe Girardi rarely played him.
Stott started all three games against Los Angeles at shortstop and doesn’t figure to leave the lineup any time soon.
“Being able to put our trust in our young guys the last couple of days and really let them play, it’s been great,” Harper said.
Girardi stuck with veterans such as Didi Gregorious while Rob Thomson played Mickey Moniak twice over Odubel Herrera in center field against the Angles and started Nick Maton at second base in the opener.
Maton sprained his right shoulder on a diving catch and went on the injured list. Thomson has also stuck with Alec Bohm and let the error-prone third baseman try and swing his way out of a slump.
“I’m a little bit different than Joe. I’m not going to go into the differences, but I like to think that I’m prepared and I’m a good communicator with these guys,” Thomson said.
“The plan is to make sure that all these guys know where they’re supposed to be at any given time whether it’s our bullpen, the lineup, whatever it is. I just want to make sure that the guys are prepared.”