After a walkoff homerun from Jimmy Rollins last night, the Phillies moved to within a game of .500. They also won their second-straight game, and put themselves in a position to sweep the Marlins with a Sunday afternoon win. While the Marlins have been anything but hot (they’ve lost six in a row after winning five of their first six), I’ve begun to get the feeling that we might have overreacted to the Phillies getting swept by the Brewers last week. Sure, it was an ugly series that showed how thin the Phillies bullpen really was, but the Brewers had won three in a row coming into the series, and have now won three straight after. It appears like more than anything the Phillies ran into a smoking-hot Brewers team at the wrong time.
That isn’t to say that I think the Phillies are going to make the playoffs, because I don’t, but I entered today’s game feeling pretty good about how the Phillies had played so far. While I have no idea what is going to happen with the bullpen, I’m confident that the starting rotation is going to begin to be able to hold up their end of the bargain, and surprisingly, the Phillies are hitting pretty well.
Kyle Kendrick got the first chance to seize momentum for a starting rotation that has been very underwhelming, but didn’t necessarily deliver. Kendrick certainly wasn’t bad, as he tossed six innings of three run ball (only two of which we earned), but going deeper than six innings, would have been a major boost to a tired bullpen.
Instead, the Phillies turned things over to their bullpen in the seventh inning, expecting them to hold things down, while the offense looked to muster a few go-ahead runs.
After a Ryan Howard opposite field homerun in the third (cue Tom McCarthy screaming “Oppo Boppo” sound clip), the Phillies tied the game in the home half of the fifth, when Wil Nieves used one of his three hits on the day, to drive in Chase Utley and Dom Brown on a double.
After getting scoreless seventh and eighth inning performances from B.J. Rosenberg and Antonio Bastardo, Chase Utley continued the torrid pace that he has began the season on, by sending his third hit of the day into the right-field stands, to give the Phillies a late 4-3 lead.
Utley, who is now hitting .500, capped off a day that saw the Phillies collect 13 hits, including six from Nieves and Tony Gwynn Jr. combined. Sure, leaving 12 men on base isn’t ideal, but how encouraging is it that not only are the Phillies hitting, but they are getting timely hits late in games?
In the ninth, Jonathan Papelbon nailed down the series sweep, completing his third consecutive save on a one-two-three inning. Being back at home appears to have given Papelbon a little more juice on his fastball, which has done wonders for him after he blew his first save.
The Phils got out of the cellar in the division with this series sweep and will welcome in Freddie Freeman (who is killing it so far this season) and the Atlanta Braves for the first of a four game set tomorrow, hoping to climb higher in the division.