Phillies make final push for playoff berth vs. Cubs

National Sports

The Philadelphia Phillies still have time to catch up and earn their first playoff berth since 2011.

But time is running short.

With just 19 games remaining, the Phillies are four-and-a-half games behind the Atlanta Braves for first place in the National League East.

The Phillies (72-71) are also two-and-a-half games behind the San Diego Padres and Cincinnati Reds for the second NL Wild Card.

“You still look at the division,” Phillies manager Joe Girardi said. “But the bottom line is you have to win games. We have to win games and we have to play better.”

The Phillies, who host the Chicago Cubs on Tuesday, haven’t played well lately as they dropped two of three to the Milwaukee Brewers and three of four to the Colorado Rockies.

“It’s go time,” said J.T. Realmuto, who had three hits on Sunday. “We don’t have any more time to waste. We can’t have any more splitting series, losing series. We have to go. We have to win every series the rest of the season. We have to sweep a couple of them to be able to catch the Braves. They’re going to play well down the stretch. They always do. We have to do a better job. We can’t sit around and play .500 baseball and expect them to come back to us.”

The Phillies will hand the ball to right-hander Kyle Gibson, who’s 10-6 with a 3.38 ERA. Gibson has made one start in his career against Chicago, giving up two runs in six innings in 2015.

Gibson has struggled in his last two starts, allowing 15 hits and 11 runs.

The reeling Cubs (65-79) will look to rebound after a tough three-game series in which they were swept by the San Francisco Giants.

The Cubs fell 6-5 on Sunday.

Chicago can take solace in the fact that Ian Happ went 2-for-5 and appeared to have found his rhythm Sunday.

“Just talking to him and knowing him for a while, he really values his on-base and taking walks,” Cubs manager David Ross said. “And you can get to a space where, do you try to find the perfect pitch and swing at every strike?

“I think the mentality that most hitting coaches will tell you is like, ‘Swing, swing, swing, and then shut it down,’ rather than maybe the opposite. I just see a guy that, his bat’s in the zone a long time, he’s using all fields. He’s in rhythm. He’s aggressive right out of the chute. Not trying to size anything up.”

Right-handed pitcher Adrian Sampson (0-2, 2.20 ERA) is scheduled to start for the Cubs. Sampson has never faced the Phillies.

Sampson’s adjustment from the bullpen to the starting rotation has been impressive. It’s not easy.

“I mean, I’ve done this before, so it’s not new territory,” Sampson said. “It is hard, though, at the same time just routine-wise. But they gave me enough time to prep and after my last relief outing, they gave me a little heads up that this could be a possibility. And so I just shifted to starter mentality and got my stuff done in between my outings and I kept it normal.”

–Field Level Media

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