After a sweep of the New York Mets put them in the driver’s seat in the NL East, the Phillies came back down to earth last week, dropping four of six games to the Los Angeles Dodgers and Cincinnati Reds.
While the 2-4 stretch was a disappointing one, it was another reminder that the Phillies aren’t quite ready to compete with the big boys of the National League just yet.
The defending-champion Dodgers are one of the very best teams in baseball while the Reds are surging, winning eight of their last 12.
“You don’t want to do that, of course,” Harper said of the Phillies’ disappointing finish to their homestand. “You want to win every game possible to stay up there but we have a long way to go. We have to keep plugging along and doing our thing.”
Of the most glaring downturns during those six games was a lack of power — a surprising omission from the Phillies offense given their affinity for the long ball, especially while playing at home.
They hit just three home runs against the Dodgers and Reds compared to 15 in their previous six-game stretch against the Washington Nationals and Mets.
“When you’re hitting homers, you’re hopefully winning games,” Harper said. “You just need good at-bats, putting bat on ball. We haven’t been able to do that the last couple games.”
The Phillies’ schedule softens as they have the easiest remaining schedule in baseball, but that doesn’t mean things are necessarily a cakewalk, either.
They head out to Arizona to face the NL-worst Diamondbacks for three games before shipping up to San Diego to play the Padres, who just got back an MVP frontrunner in Fernando Tatis Jr. from injury. It makes the first three games of the west-coast swing against the Diamondbacks all the more important.
“We just have to take care of business there and then going into San Diego, that’s a tough fan-base, a tough team,” Harper said. “The place will be rocking, so we have to be ready.”
Entering Monday night’s action, the Phillies trailed the Atlanta Braves by one game in the National League East while the free-falling Mets sit 1.5 games behind them in third.
“The Braves are going to keep going, keep playing well. That’s the Braves. That’s their team. Same with the Mets,” Harper said. “We have to do the same thing. We have to keep winning games. It matter what all the other teams do, we just have to keep winning games.”