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First Place Deferred: Braves 3, Phillies 1

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Brandon McCarthy and Ozzie Albies prevented the Phillies from moving into first place in the National League East

MLB: Atlanta Braves at Philadelphia Phillies Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

First place was on the line. Heading into Tuesday night’s game, the Phillies sat a half game behind the Braves in the National League East standings. If the Phillies could pull off a victory, they would find themselves on top of the division past the first week of the season for the first time since 2011. Unfortunately, the Phillies did not win the game.

For the fourth time this season, the starting pitching matchup was Vince Velasquez vs. Brandon McCarthy. And for the fourth time, McCarthy and the Braves were the team that came out on top. As a result, the Phillies will have to wait at least a couple more days for another chance to take the division lead.

Here’s a rundown on some of the action:

McCarthyism Makes a Comeback

Brandon McCarthy is 34 years old and has a career ERA of 4.19. Entering the game, his ERA for the season was 5.05. He’s not an All-Star. He’s not even a good pitcher. But against the Phillies this season, he is 4-0 with a 2.12 ERA.

McCarthy’s night was rather similar to the three previous times he faced the Phils. He allowed four hits in his 5.1 innings, and the only run came partially thanks to a soft Maikel Franco single away from a defensive shift.

While it’s frustrating to repeatedly lose to such a unimpressive pitcher, its comforting to know that barring a trade, the Phillies will not have to face him again until September.

Velasquez Deserved Better

Velasquez fell to 0-4 against the Braves, but this was far from his worst start of the season. He allowed two runs (one earned) with nine strikeouts in 4.1 innings.

The highlight of Velasquez’s night came in the fourth inning. The Braves loaded the bases with nobody out. In the past, Velasquez would often fall apart in such a situation. This time, he kept the Braves off the scoreboard by striking out the next three batters.

The Defense Rests

One night after their defense helped win them a game, the Phillies’ defenders had a night that was sadly more representative of the 2018 season. In the fifth inning, a throwing error by Nick Williams allowed Ozzie Albies to reach third base. The next batter hit a slow roller to Carlos Santana who threw it over the head of catcher Jorge Alfaro, allowing Albies to score.

Ozzie Albies is Going to be a Problem

The Braves’ second baseman is quickly establishing himself as one of the National League’s best players. On Tuesday night, he was 2-3 with a home run and scored all three of the Braves’ runs. Considering he’s only 21 years old, the Phillies need to figure out a way to get him out, or else he’ll be terrorizing them for years to come.

Rhys Continues to Struggle

Rhys Hoskins continued to look absolutely lost at the plate. He went 0-4 with two strikeouts, one of which came in the fifth inning with runners on second and third. It feels like he could benefit from a day or two on the bench.

Fear Not, For Wednesday is Arrieta Day

While Phillies fans won’t get to wake up on Wednesday morning to a first place team, we will wake up knowing that Jake Arrieta is pitching in the series finale. If he comes through, the Phillies will have finally won a series against the Braves, and will once again sit only half a game out of first place.