Once the calendar flipped to August, the Philadelphia Phillies suddenly turned into the hottest team in Major League Baseball.
The Phillies will be looking for their ninth consecutive victory when they host the defending World Series champion Los Angeles Dodgers on Tuesday.
Philadelphia swept the New York Mets in a three-game series, including a resounding 3-0 victory on Sunday thanks to Zack Wheeler’s two-hit shutout.
The Phillies, who had been scuffling through July, are now poised to potentially reach the postseason for the first time since 2011.
The Phillies last won nine straight from July 29-Aug. 6, 2011.
“That’s the thing about this game; you have to stay in for the long haul,” Phillies manager Joe Girardi said. “You can have bad weeks. We had a bad couple of weeks at one point during the season, but it’s a long season. You just have to keep doing your work, every day trying to get better and grinding things out.”
The Phillies won again Sunday without Rhys Hoskins (groin), Didi Gregorius (elbow) and Odubel Herrera (Achilles) in the lineup. With a day off Monday, Girardi intimated that at least one or more of these players could play Tuesday.
The Phillies will send right-hander Aaron Nola (7-6, 4.49 ERA) to the mound. He is 2-0 with a 3.75 ERA in four career starts against the Dodgers.
Nola has been inconsistent with his command at times this season.
“I’ve been tweaking some stuff in my mechanics,” Nola said. “Kind of staying over the rubber a little longer, getting me back on top of the baseball a little more.”
The Dodgers will be searching for their third straight victory.
They dropped the first game of a weekend series against the Los Angeles Angels but responded to win 5-3 on Saturday and 8-2 on Sunday.
Albert Pujols hit a pinch hit two-run home run and Cody Bellinger added a two-run shot for the high-powered Dodgers offense. Bellinger homered in consecutive games for the second time this season.
“Probably the best part of the day outside of just winning a ballgame is him taking 95 mph on the top of the zone, back-spinning it for a homer,” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said of Bellinger. “That’s the most exciting thing for me, for the Dodgers. For us to go where we need to go and expect to go, he’s a big part of it.”
The Dodgers still trail the surprising San Francisco Giants by four games in the National League West.
“I think when you have the talent and the team that we have, I think, honestly, we’re more worried about playing good baseball and playing to our expectations,” Dodgers right-hander Walker Buehler said. “I kind of believe that the rest will take care of itself.”
The Dodgers picked up two key players before the trade deadline when they acquired Trea Turner and Max Scherzer from the Washington Nationals.
Scherzer (9-4, 2.75) is 14-4 with a 2.55 ERA in 24 career starts against the Phillies. The three-time Cy Young Award winner makes his second start for the Dodgers on Tuesday.
“It’s fun to join these guys because we have a great chance to win,” Scherzer said. “But it’s gonna take a lot of work to get there. Nothing’s assured yet.”
–Field Level Media