Phillies peaking at right time heading into finale vs. Cardinals

Field Level Media

September 17, 2023 at 12:21 pm.

After losing five of seven games on their most recent homestand, the Philadelphia Phillies took to the road looking to take back control of the National League wild-card race.

“We want it to be a different September,” Phillies slugger Kyle Schwarber said before the team headed to St. Louis for a three-game set. “I don’t think we want it to be a September where we’re losing. … We want to flip the script and make sure that we’re going to be taking care of business and playing our game.

“The signs are there. Everything is there.”

The results certainly have been there this weekend, as Philadelphia heads into Sunday’s series finale looking to sweep the host Cardinals.

Philadelphia won the first two games of the series 5-4 and 6-1 and holds the first wild-card spot in the NL.

Phillies starting pitcher Taijuan Walker (15-5, 4.30 ERA) will try to get back on track in the finale. The right-hander hasn’t met the quality-start metric since July 31, and he has a 7.84 ERA in two September outings.

In his most recent start, Walker allowed the Atlanta Braves to score six runs (five earned) on six hits and three walks in 5 1/3 innings on Monday. The Phillies lost 10-8 in 10 innings.

“When you give five free passes to a team like this, it’s not going to be an easy day for you,” Walker said afterward. “I know my stuff is good, but I’m not giving myself a chance when I’m getting behind, and I basically have to give them a cookie.”

Walker is 1-1 with a 3.00 ERA in five career starts against the Cardinals.

Right-hander Dakota Hudson (6-2, 5.10) will start for the Cardinals, who have lost four of their last six games.

Hudson struggled in his last two starts, allowing 12 runs on 15 hits and six walks in just 9 1/3 innings. He is coming off an 11-5 loss Monday at Baltimore in his most recent outing.

“Lots of ground balls,” Hudson said. “Ground balls through the hole here and there. Just had them sneak through at inopportune times. It’s just kind of one of those frustrating games. I don’t know really what to take away from it. I’m going to have to go back and kind of look at some stuff and re-evaluate and build from there.”

Cardinals catcher Willson Contreras noted that pitch location became problematic for Hudson as the game progressed.

“The first couple innings, he was just executing down in the zone with the sinker,” Contreras told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. “As the game went on, he just started missing a little up in the zone. That’s when they started getting hits.”

The Cardinals lost Hudson’s earlier start against the Phillies this season, 12-1. He allowed five runs on six hits and five walks in 5 2/3 innings.

Bryson Stott hit a homer off Hudson in that game and Trea Turner and Nick Castellanos each doubled. Bryce Harper is 6-for-7 with three walks, two doubles, a homer and six RBIs in his career against Hudson.

Hudson is 1-2 with a 3.18 ERA in four career starts against Philadelphia.

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