Back home, Phillies' offense looks to make another statement this week

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Even a highly successful road trip with two series wins ends in an unsatisfying way.

The nature of Phillies baseball?

The Phils flew home from Los Angeles 17-18 after taking three of four at Dodger Stadium. When you win three of four over the team with baseball's most loaded roster, it's a good weekend no matter how it ends.

But the Phillies have to be kicking themselves over the final few minutes of Sunday's game. Two outs, nobody on base, Corey Knebel vs. Cody Bellinger with a chance to finish off a four-game sweep and then boom: triple, walk, game-winning double.

The bullpen, which has MLB's fourth-worst ERA and fifth-worst WHIP, hasn't been the disaster it was in 2020 and 2021 but it has still cost the Phillies games through the first 35.

The Phillies hit their stride offensively out west, receiving contributions up and down the lineup. Bryce Harper, Jean Segura and Rhys Hoskins are red-hot. Kyle Schwarber is hitting bombs and taking his walks. Alec Bohm has hit all season. Odubel Herrera has hit in center field. Bryson Stott and Johan Camargo each had a three-RBI night at Dodger Stadium.

Can they bring the thunder back home? Harper had a PRP injection in his injured right elbow this weekend and may miss Tuesday's series opener against the Padres. San Diego is 22-13, tied for first in the NL West.

The Phillies are set to face Mike Clevinger, Blake Snell and Yu Darvish in the series. Clevinger, who missed all of last season after undergoing Tommy John surgery, has started two games in 2022, struggled with control and hasn't gotten through five innings. Snell will be making his season debut after a lousy 2021. Darvish has a 4.62 ERA but can be unhittable on any given night.

The Phillies have Zack Wheeler going Wednesday in Game 2 and Kyle Gibson in the series finale. There is uncertainty Tuesday but the start could go to Zach Eflin, who is on the COVID IL and hasn't pitched since May 1. The Phillies optioned reliever Francisco Morales to Triple A after Sunday's game without making a corresponding roster move, which could be the activation of Eflin Tuesday.

The Padres are without superstar Fernando Tatis Jr. (wrist fracture) until approximately mid-June. They've been led by Manny Machado, who would be the NL MVP if such awards were handed out on May 16. Machado has hit .359 with 8 doubles, 7 homers, 6 steals and a 1.029 OPS. 

Eric Hosmer has been surprisingly hot in the early going as well, hitting .350 with pop. The Padres spent a bulk of the offseason trying to unload Hosmer's contract after four lackluster seasons but he's responded.

Nobody else on the Padres' roster is hitting -- every San Diego hitter except Machado, Hosmer and former Phillie Jorge Alfaro is hitting .237 or worse -- but they still have several others who can hurt you. Jake Cronenworth is a difficult out who will make use of the whole field. The uber-aggressive Wil Myers can pop one at any time. Trent Grisham is hitting 80 points below his career norms.

After the Padres, the Phillies host the Dodgers for three games this weekend. Dave Roberts' club will obviously be seeking revenge after being hit around by the Phillies, who should go into that series feeling supremely confident against Julio Urias. They homered off of the lefty four times Saturday and are set to face him again in Friday's series opener. It's unclear which other Dodgers starting pitchers the Phillies will face but it looks like Walker Buehler, who also pitched poorly against them over the weekend, will not go in the series. Clayton Kershaw was placed on the injured list Friday and won't be ready to return.

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