Philadelphia Phillies: Displaying character in the face of adversity

(Photo by Denis Poroy/Getty Images)
(Photo by Denis Poroy/Getty Images) /

On a road trip where it seemed everything went wrong, the Philadelphia Phillies didn’t crumble, and that says a lot to say about their character.

Hopes were dim as the Philadelphia Phillies trailed 5-2 to the Padres in the top of the seventh inning on Wednesday afternoon. The Phillies, in danger of a 1-5 road trip, needed something to salvage momentum and head back east on a high note.

Up to that point, it had been a week to forget for the Phillies. Swept by the NL-best Dodgers, blown out Monday night in San Diego and to add the icing on the terrible week, Andrew McCutchen suffered a torn-ACL in that game. It was a broken play and one that likely doesn’t happen if Jean Segura doesn’t fall down.

The Phillies had won the previous night, but a loss Wednesday would have had a lot of people questioning the character and makeup of this team. There may have been no bigger sequence than the one that started with a Cesar Hernandez two-out walk in the seventh.

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Down 0-2, Hernandez fought back in the count and lined a ball down the right-field line that wound up being an RBI triple, scoring Adam Haseley. Bryce Harper then added his 20th double of the season to run the Phillies deficit to one, 5-4.

Next came Segura, who admittedly lost sleep this week after the McCutchen injury, who slapped a single back up the middle to even things up at five. That wouldn’t even be the biggest play made by Segura in that ball game.

The Phillies added two more in the top half of the eighth, one of the runs coming on Haseley’s first major league hit. A first from someone who the Phillies are going to need to be important moving forward.

In the bottom half of the eighth is when the defining moment of the game, and perhaps the season, came. The bases were loaded when Manny Machado, who previously launched a grand slam in this series, strolled to the plate. The other crown jewel in this past winter’s free agent class.

Following an impromptu 1-0 mound visit from pitching coach Chris Young due to the fear San Diego was stealing signs, Hector Neris buckled down and attacked Machado. He then floated a ball into shallow left where Segura made perhaps the play of the season.

It was a rough week for Segura and the Phillies, and it was in danger of getting worse, but that play catalyzed the whole turnaround.

A baseball season is a long grind, and even the best teams go through their rough stretches. The last week for the Phillies has been nothing short of difficult. Heading into this road trip, many would have been happy with 3-3, but coming home 2-4 isn’t ideal, but it could be worse.

This all says a lot about this team and Gabe Kapler. After Monday night it seemed all the wheels had fallen out, but the Phillies found a way to right the ship. A slugfest Tuesday night, followed by a win as gritty as they come Wednesday afternoon.

They didn’t lay down, and it most certainly helps when your $330 million player was still busting up the line when he was hitting .215. That kind of stuff is contagious. When you’re 0-4 on a road trip, or down 5-2 on a getaway day, and don’t lay down, it says a lot about a team.

When people look back on this season and pinpoint a turning point, it may be this past week. Yeah, they’ll talk about getting swept by the Dodgers and the McCutchen injury, but they’ll remember how the team responded from that and specifically that gritty win on a forgettable Wednesday afternoon.

We knew the Phillies would be a vastly improved team in 2019, but it wasn’t known how this team would respond to adversity. Well, it appears they have passed its first test of the season, now we’ll see where the Phillies go from here.

A guy tearing his ACL in Southern California, many other key pieces going down, forcing the “next man up” mentality, and a team rallying after losing their key player to an ACL injury. Sounds like a story we have seen before.

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How will it all transcend? We will see. But, one thing we know for sure is that no matter what happens, or what obstacles are thrown their way, the Philadelphia Phillies are not going to lay down.