After falling in six straight games, including being swept in their five-game series against the Washington Nationals, the Phillies have found new life — albeit too little, too late — in their final series of the season.
The Phillies edged the National League-worst Miami Marlins 5-4 on Friday, but they won more comfortably Saturday evening, 9-3, securing at least a .500 season for the first time since 2012. Now, with a win in Sunday's season finale, the club can finish better than .500 for the first time since 2011 (102-60) — the last time they qualified for postseason play.
Bryce Harper told reporters after Saturday's win, in which he launched a three-run home run, that Sunday's series and season finale is a must-win. "Gotta do it. Gotta go out there and win tomorrow, he said. "That's huge for us. We can go 82-80."
#35 for Bryce Harper! 🔥 pic.twitter.com/GdKPnjl5Oa— NBC Sports Philadelphia (@NBCSPhilly) September 29, 2019
"Of course that's not where we want to be, but winning seasons are good. It's a stepping stone into next year."
Harper's home run raised his season home run total to 35, and RBI total to 114. His 35 home runs are the second-most ever by a Phillies player in his first season with the club, bested only by Hall of Famer Jim Thome's 47 in 2003.
Other Harper Stat Notables:
- Harper's 35 home runs are the most by any Phillies player in 10 seasons, when Ryan Howard and Jayson Werth hit 45 and 36, respectively.
- Harper's stolen base in the fourth inning on Saturday gave the Phillies 23 consecutive stolen bases without getting thrown out since August 27. Harper is 8-for-8 over that stretch. The club has not had 23 consecutive steals since August 13 to September 17, 2009 (25 straight).
- Harper's home run was his career-high 15th against a southpaw. Only Cody Bellinger (18) has more home runs against a left-hander this season.
- Phillies with 42 or more extra-base hits in Citizens Bank Park history:
- Chase Utley, 44, 2006
- Jimmy Rollins, 42, 2007
- Jayson Werth, 42, 2010
- Bryce Harper, 42, 2019
- Harper is the first Phillies outfielder with more than 110 RBI and more than 70 extra-base hits since Pat Burrell in 2002.
Two other Phillies players hit home run-in the 9-3 win, Cesar Hernandez (14) and Maikel Franco (17), tying a club record for home runs in a month, 44. Starting pitcher Zach Eflin, meanwhile, notched his 10th win, allowing just three runs, six hits, and two walks while striking out six in 7 2/3 innings. He became the first Phillies starter to reach the eighth inning since July 2. Right-hander Nick Pivetta finished the game with 1 1/3 scoreless innings.
Eflin said after the game that he "felt comfortable," and that he was "attacking guys and keeping them off balance" while being "aggressive," "not backing down," and "trusting every pitch."
As did Phillies catcher J.T. Realmuto with Miami in its 2018 finale, Marlins infielder Miguel Rojas will assume managerial duties from skipper Don Mattingly on Sunday. Rojas will draw up the starting lineup and will dictate in-game moves.
The Phillies will oppose RHP Sandy Alcantara (5-14, 3.95 ERA). Instead of RHP Aaron Nola starting, the Phillies will use a bullpen game, with reliever Blake Parker slated as the opener.
Saturday's win — which also featured and Adam Haseley two-run single and catcher Deivy Grullon's first-career hit (double) and RBI — evened the Phillies' season record against the Marlins at 9-9.
Now, on Sunday, the Phillies can not only finish better than .500 in their season series against the Marlins (10-9), but also their overall season record (82-80).