Let’s just enjoy it:

Lot of baseball left to play, but the Phillies are right in the thick of it as July gets underway. They were 26-32 about a month ago and have gone 19-7 since June 3rd to close the gap and push into the Wild Card picture.

The pain in the ass is that the Braves are not catchable in the division. That might sound defeatist or sacrilegious. Yeah, there are 78 games left to play, almost half the season, but if you’ve watched this Atlanta team beyond the handful of Philly games, you know they’re that good. Keep an open mind, but don’t expect a Mets-like collapse from the Braves this year, who would have to choke away an 11.5 game lead over the second half to give the division to the Phillies, or an 8.5 game lead to give it to the Marlins.

Miami is the realistic target, and they’re on deck. Two more in Tampa this week, then three in Miami on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. It feels corny to say that this week will define the season, but it’s probably true. You do all of this work to climb back into contention, take one off the best team in the American League to keep the road winning streak alive, and then come right off that series into a battle with the squad just in front of you in the division.

A few more schedule notes on the back half:

  • after the Miami series, the Phils get four at home against the sputtering Padres, then three at home against Milwaukee. good opportunity there to create some Wild Card separation
  • there are nine more games against the Marlins on the schedule, six on the road
  • seven more against the Braves, four at home, three on the road
  • they do have to play some good teams in the AL in the second half – three vs. Baltimore (currently 49-35), two at Toronto (46-40), three vs. Minnesota and Cleveland (close to .500, but #1 and #2 in that division)
  • that Angels series is looking more favorable after the Mike Trout injury
  • seven of the final 10 games are against the Mets, so if they continue to stink up the joint it might be a situation where they’re trying to play spoiler against a Phils team in playoff contention

Keep in mind that there’s no more “game 163” to handle tiebreakers. They go first by head-to-head record, so those second half games against Milwaukee and San Francisco are key. Then they go to intradivision and interdivision record if the head-to-head is tied.

Go Phils.