After a tough streak in Milwaukee, the Phillies return to Philadelphia to open a four-game set with the Rockies on Thursday night at Citizens Bank Park. The Phils enter the evening 2 1/2 games behind the Braves in the National Eastern League with 23 games remaining in the regular season.
“I think everyone is going to sit down and bite their nails a bit as we get down here, but we think if we mind the business we’ll be fine,” the Phillies pitcher said. Kyle Gibson after Wednesday night’s 4-3 loss to the Brewers.
Fourteen of the next 17 games are at home for the Phillies before the club embark on a six-game road trip to end the season. The next seven games in particular, four against the Rockies and three against the Cubs, are crucial for the Phils as the two clubs have a combined winning percentage of 0.473.
“We need to take advantage of what’s in front of us,” Bryce Harper said last week. “We have to do it now.”
Ranger Suarez will start the series opener for the Phils. He was retired after five innings in his previous start against the Marlins because he was dealing with what manager Joe Giardi considered a “dead arm”.
“I watched him come out and start the warm-up in the fifth round and I wasn’t crazy what I saw. So we just said we were going to stop there,” said Girardi.
Suarez started well for the Phillies, with a 1.38 ERA in 72 innings of work, including seven starts. He was even better at Citizens Bank Park, posting a 1.40 ERA in 18 appearances.
The Rockies counter with right-hander Antonio Senzatela who is 4-9 this season with a 4.16 ERA. However, he has looked solid in his last two starts, pitching at least seven innings while posting a 3.20 ERA in his last eight outings.
The Phillies lineup
The Braves welcome the Nationals again tonight. Atlanta’s offense faltered last night and collected just two points in a loss to the Nats. The Braves come in with a 2-1 / 2 game lead over the Phils.