Philadelphia Phillies: Not quite getting well in Cincy

CINCINNATI, OH - SEPTEMBER 7: Michael Lorenzen #21 of the Cincinnati Reds takes an at bat during the game against the San Diego Padres at Great American Ball Park on September 7, 2018 in Cincinnati, Ohio. (Photo by Kirk Irwin/Getty Images)
CINCINNATI, OH - SEPTEMBER 7: Michael Lorenzen #21 of the Cincinnati Reds takes an at bat during the game against the San Diego Padres at Great American Ball Park on September 7, 2018 in Cincinnati, Ohio. (Photo by Kirk Irwin/Getty Images) /
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(Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
(Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images) /

The Philadelphia Phillies were breezing through September, keeping pace in the wild card race, then things started to wobble in the Queen City.

As the Philadelphia Phillies worked their way through a difficult Labor Day weekend, including a nasty piece of travel between a night game and one in the early afternoon the next day, they seemed to be serving notice they would compete in September this year.

While the Cubs kept winning, so did the Phillies. This was important because the Chicago was 3½ games ahead of Philly as August closed in the race for the visiting team Wild Card in the NL.  Three days later, the Phillies had narrowed that gap by a game and had their ace, Aaron Nola, ready to face the Reds high-profile acquisition, Trevor Bauer, Sept. 4 in the Queen City.

Before play on Sept. 4 last season, the Phillies were 3½ games behind the second Wild Card slot. By Sept. 11, they were 6½ back; when the season ended, they had fallen further, from four games over .500 to two under. Perhaps this year would be different than most of the preceding decade.

The Phillies had wasted Nola’s previous two, excellent starts, but he was pitching, finally, the way he’ll be expected to for the next decade. Better, recently, Bryce Harper had touched both the 30 home run and 100 RBI marks, and Rhys Hoskins was also beginning to swing a hotter bat as well. Other cogs in the Fightin’ offensive machinery were also meshing nicely.

Of course, two of the Phillies three wins in September had been against the Reds, but hey, good teams are supposed to beat bad teams. The team had scored a total of 18 runs on 25 hits in those three games. Hoskins had hit two homers in the second game.

For the first time in almost three months, Philadelphia was seven games over .500.

It was sunny in Cincinnati as Bauer took the mound. There was, apparently, a very slight chance of rain late in the evening.