Major League Baseball

Phillies, Giants look to move closer to wild-card spot

GIANTS (54-52) AT PHILLIES (55-50)
7:05 p.m. ET; NBCSP, NBCSBA, MLB.TV

The Philadelphia Phillies are just one game out in the National League wild-card race and the players are all in for making a postseason charge.

The team made a move Monday, bolstering its rotation by trading for New York Mets left-hander Jason Vargas, as Wednesday’s trade deadline looms.

The Phillies — who are 22-28 since May 29 — get one last opportunity to show club brass they are worthy of remaining intact or adding more pieces when they host the San Francisco Giants on Tuesday in the opener of a three-game series.

Philadelphia was supposed to compete for the National League East title after opening up the checkbook and signing outfielder Bryce Harper to a 13-year, $330 million deal in the offseason.

But a 33-22 start proved to be a mirage, and Harper understands the quandary. He points out that a hot final two months can change everything.

“We’ve just got to get in,” Harper told reporters after Sunday’s 9-4 win over the Atlanta Braves. “That’s it. That’s all you’ve got to do. There are some wild-card teams that have won it. Some teams that have won the division have won it. So we just got to get in.”

Phillies manager Gabe Kapler said he feels his squad has just as good a chance as any of the other candidates.

“We all have to get a little bit better,” Kapler told reporters after Sunday’s game. “It’s coaching staff, it’s our hitters, it’s our pitchers, our bullpen, everything across the board. We play our baseball, we play to our potential and we are a strong club.

“We’re a game out of the playoffs right now. I think we’re positioned well to make a run. I don’t think the clubs that are battling for those positions are better than us. I think we have the capability with the talent in the room to be much better in the second half than we were in the first.”

San Francisco is surprisingly part of the wild-card race after struggling at 12 games below .500 as recently as June 29.

But the Giants got hot to go along with incredible luck. San Francisco has won 19 of 24 games and is a stunning 7-0 in extra-inning games since the All-Star break.

Sitting just 2 1/2 games out of a wild-card spot, multiple reports say the Giants plan to keep ace left-hander Madison Bumgarner instead of dealing him prior to the trade deadline.

In other words, the team’s recent stellar play has changed the situation.

However, San Francisco manager Bruce Bochy said the strong play began more than 24 games ago.

“This is over a longer period that we’ve been playing good ball,” Bochy told reporters. “Really, it’s been five or six weeks.”

Right-hander Tyler Beede (3-4, 4.85 ERA) will be on the mound for the Giants in the series opener and looking to bounce back from last Wednesday’s loss to the Chicago Cubs.

Beede served up career worsts of three homers and 10 hits while allowing four runs in 5 2/3 innings against the Cubs. He struck out seven and walked one.

Beede has never faced the Phillies.

Left-hander Drew Smyly (1-5, 7.69) makes his second start since joining the Phillies and he fared well in his team debut.

The 30-year-old gave up one run and four in six innings in a no-decision against the Pittsburgh Pirates on July 21. Smyly struck out eight and walked two.

Smyly has never faced the Giants, but he routinely retired outfielder Kevin Pillar (0-for-12) when both players were in the American League.

–Field Level Media

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