Bryce Harper in MVP conversation as Phillies host Orioles

Sports

With just 13 games left, the Philadelphia Phillies remain two games behind the Atlanta Braves for first place in the National League East.

Even with a difficult 3-2 loss to the New York Mets on Sunday, the Phillies still managed to take two of three in the series.

The Phillies will open a three-game series against the visiting Baltimore Orioles on Monday looking to gain traction on their first playoff berth since 2011.

If the Phillies (76-73) do advance to the postseason, it’ll be in large part to Bryce Harper’s Most Valuable Player performance.

“I don’t like MVP talk,” said Harper, who has 33 home runs and 80 RBIs. “I don’t like talking about my numbers. I just want to play my game.”

Both Jean Segura and Freddy Galvis have elevated their level of play over the past week to assist Harper at the top of the lineup.

Segura homered twice on Saturday and added two more hits on Sunday.

“Just getting on base in front of Bryce and having to pitch to Bryce, I think those two are among the league leaders in runs scored the last couple weeks,” Phillies manager Joe Girardi said. “They both play extremely well. Wherever it comes from, it doesn’t matter, but Jean is playing extremely well this year.”

Galvis also had two hits Sunday and increased his batting average to .252. He was activated from the injured list on Aug. 24 and looks fully healthy.

“He just seems to be in a good spot right now,” Girardi said. “I think it took him a while to get his timing back. He looks more comfortable at third base for us. I think he is moving better.”

Ranger Suarez (6-4, 1.50 ERA) is scheduled to start for the Phillies. He has never faced the Orioles.

The struggling Orioles will hope to avoid a fourth consecutive loss when they open this series against the Phillies.

The Orioles (47-102) were swept over the weekend against the Boston Red Sox.

Not much positive can be taken from this season, but manager Brandon Hyde continues to look for ways to motivate his young team.

“When you have a season like this, you are looking for bright spots and things to build on for the future,” Hyde said. “We’re looking for cornerstone guys that, when the team does get competitive and does get good, that you can surround them with. The right kind of players, veteran players, the right pitching staff. Cedric Mullins is playing like that, there’s not a doubt about it. Playing like an All-Star. Ryan Mountcastle, 30 homers, that’s an incredible accomplishment his rookie year.”

The season has been especially difficult on the pitching staff. A number of Baltimore’s young pitchers are learning by giving up a bevy of hits and runs and being placed in difficult situations against veteran hitters.

“A lot of our pitchers are facing major league hitters for the first time, don’t have a ton of Triple-A experience or success, and it’s kind of tough, it’s very, very tough,” Hyde said. “They’re ballparks and tough environments to pitch in and hopefully, they can learn from those and get better going forward.”

The Orioles will hand the ball to John Means (5-7, 3.41 ERA), who has never faced the Phillies.

Means has pitched better in his last three outings, allowing six runs in 17 2/3 innings.

“My changeup’s kind of (stunk) lately, to be honest,” Means said. “So the curveball was the pitch. It’s the pitch that’s a little more consistent right now, and hopefully, we can get everything working here soon.”

— Field Level Media

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