One of the interesting subplots to yesterday’s viewing experience at Citizens Bank Park didn’t unfold at the plate or on the mound, it unfolded on the right field out-of-town scoreboard.
Shortly after the Phillies won the resumption of Saturday night’s postponed game to move within two games of the division lead, the Pirates built a quick 6-0 first-inning lead over the Mets.
Fans in attendance who were waiting for Zack Wheeler to begin his warmup tosses could feel the momentum building, cheering as the last-place Pirates appeared on the verge of sweeping the Mets.
Here’s what the fans at CBP were reacting to—one of the worst plays you’ll ever see. pic.twitter.com/DE0suOQZr7
— Bob Wankel (@BobWankelCB) July 18, 2021
Suddenly, a win in their regularly scheduled game with the Marlins paired with a New York loss would bring the Phillies to within just one game of the Mets.
Knowing that, the primary focus was on the field, where the Phillies would ultimately grind their way to a 10th win in 14 games this month. But it was impossible not to periodically check in on the bulbs of the right field scoreboard as they revealed Pittsburgh’s wilting lead:
7-6, Mets. Final.
It’s early. Yesterday marked only the 92nd and 90th games for the Phillies and Mets, respectively. There’s a long way to go.
But as it turns out, in an honest admission from both Wheeler and Phillies manager Joe Girardi, there was some scoreboard watching going on in the dugout.
“Yeah, you’re always aware of that, for sure. It’s obviously the second half now,” Wheeler said following his start. “Games are always important, but now they’re more important. It’s time to bear down.”
After the game, MLB.com Phillies reporter Todd Zolecki asked Girardi about keeping an eye on the competition.
“Well, Todd, I always scoreboard watch. It’s just in my nature. I’m a baseball fan, right? So, I mean, I’m looking at every game up there,” Girardi said. “I’m finding the interesting ones, the ones that are back-and-forth. I notice what teams do in both leagues, but yeah, of course, it’s impossible not to look at it. But the big thing is that we just take care of our own business, and that’s what I try to focus on.”
Just a guess, but I’m willing to bet those guys weren’t exactly dialed in on Orioles-Royals or Rangers-Blue Jays yesterday.
The Phillies have 10 games remaining before the July 30 trade deadline. One figures their play and position in the standings will dictate the degree of aggressiveness to their approach.
They were a season-high six games off the division pace on June 26 and as many as five games back as recently as July 9, so their rapid climb is noteworthy– and their wandering eyes on the bulbs of the right field out-of-town scoreboard are understandable.
Good on those guys for being real about it.