The Philadelphia Phillies expected to end Atlanta’s long reign in the NL East this season. Instead, with 25 games remaining, they have virtually no chance to catch the Braves.
The Phillies will try to end a three-game losing streak against the Braves when they meet in a doubleheader at Turner Field.
Originally scheduled to play Tuesday, rain forced the game to be postponed a day. It was the first home rainout for the Braves this season and only the fourth in the eight-year history of Turner Field.
Atlanta received three to four inches of rain Tuesday, and about 500,000 Georgians were left without power, including about 270,000 in the metro Atlanta area.
After splitting a two-game series from July 19-20, the Phillies and Braves were tied atop the NL East. Since that point, however, Atlanta has surged to a 13 1/2 -game lead over third-place Philadelphia on its way toward a record 13th consecutive division title.
The Braves, who swept a two-game series at Citizens Bank Park last week, opened the series with a 3-1 win Monday. Andruw Jones homered for the fourth time in six games, and Trevor Smith pitched five strong innings to lead Atlanta to its 12th win in 14 games.
As the Braves try to continue that surge, they’ll turn to Jaret Wright, who has won 12 of his last 13 decisions. The 28-year-old right-hander allowed two runs and eight hits over six innings in a 7-2 win over the Phillies on Sept. 1. He has beaten Philadelphia three times this season.
“I just tried to stay healthy all year,” said Wright, who will start the first game Wednesday. “My arm feels good and I’m going to try and keep it going.”
Instead of contending for a playoff spot as expected, the Phillies find themselves one game below .500. They are 9-14 since Aug. 12, but all nine wins were against the lowly Milwaukee Brewers and New York Mets.
After sweeping a weekend series against the Mets, the Phillies scored their lone run on an RBI single by Jim Thome in the fifth inning Monday.
“It’s frustrating, losing a game like that,” Phillies third baseman David Bell said. “We had some chances. They made good pitches on us.”
While the Phillies’ playoff hopes may have faded, they hope to get another promising effort from top prospect Gavin Floyd, who will start the second game.
The 21-year-old right-hander, the fourth overall pick in the 2001 draft, was brilliant in his major league debut Friday, limiting the Mets to one run and four hits over seven innings in an 8-1 victory.
“I’m kind of in awe and happy with the performance I had,” Floyd said.
Floyd, who walked four and struck out five, used an impressive curve to keep hitters off balance in what could be an audition for a spot in the Phillies’ 2005 rotation.
”(Seeing Floyd) tells a lot about where we’re heading,” Thome said. “As a veteran, I think it’s important to make these kids feel comfortable, because this is step one to a process for them to get to know us.”