The Phillies are the only sports ticket in town at the moment and are about to become the hottest ticket in town.
At 26-18, they’re entering territory they haven’t been in for seven years. They’re starting a three-game series with the Braves (28-17) at Citizens Bank Park on Monday with the chance to claim the best record in the National League. Sitting just 1 1/2 games behind the Braves in third place, a sweep moves them into first.
“There is a lot of adrenaline going into that series,” Phillies manager Gabe Kapler said. “We feel like we match up very well against them, and more than anything else, we’re not going to get outworked or prepared.”
The Phillies have already begun their upward movement in terms of attendance. Last season, the Phillies finished 24th in the MLB averaging 24,118 fans per game. This season, they’ve jumped to 17th in the MLB averaging 25,657 fans per game. Expect this series to come close to the sellout capacity of 43,651 that Citizens Bank Park can hold.
“To go home after a winning road trip, we have a lot to feel good about. We’re ready, we’re prepared for Atlanta,” Kapler said. “We’re excited about that series, and we’re ready to roll.”
Nick Pivetta (3-2) will take the mound on Monday. He’s coming off of his most dominant performance of the season where he struck out 11 while allowing two hits in an 4-1 win over the Orioles. Vince Velasquez (4-4) and Jake Arrieta (3-2) will follow him on Tuesday and Wednesday.
The Phillies are 16-6 at home this season. They’ve won eight of their past 11 games. The Braves are 17-8 on the road this season and have won nine of their past 12 games.
This is as even of a series as it gets and a series win will make a statement in the division. After this series, the teams won’t play again until September when Atlanta hosts a four-game set.
The Braves have gotten the better of the Phillies so far this season. Atlanta is 6-3 against them and have forced Phillies hitters to bat just .210 while averaging just 3.3 runs per game.
“We haven’t necessarily played the Braves all that well this year,” Arrieta said. “You just have to learn from that. It all comes down to how well your starter pitches that day. If you come out and give up four in the first – I’m not saying you can’t win that game but it makes it a lot more difficult. So the emphasis has to be on starting pitching, especially early in the game to set the tone.”
The series with the Braves will air on NBC Sports Philadelphia. All games are scheduled for 7:05 pm.