The Phillies actually played some pretty good baseball over the past week. No, you didn’t misread that. I used the terms “Phillies” and “good baseball” in the same sentence. The Phillies finished up the ten game home stand quite well. After losing two-of-three to the Mets, then losing the first two games to Pittsburgh, the Phillies went on a roll. They tied up the Pittsburgh series at 2-2, swept Arizona, and won their first game at Colorado. The Phillies were riding high on a six-game win streak, until last night.
It may seem unfair to bash Carlos Ruiz, or to blame him for the winning streak being ended, but I’ll do it anyway. The guy has grounded into seven double plays already this year, and they have all, at least the the best of my recollection, been rally KILLERS. None more than last night.
Down 5-3 entering the 8th inning, it looked like the Phillies were in trouble. But after two singles to start the inning from Freddy Galvis and the pinch-hitting Jeff Francouer, the Phillies were in business. Ryan Howard followed those two hits by doing what Ryan Howard does: striking out. But, the good news was that strike three was a wild pitch so Galvis and Francoeur advance 90 feet. The recently promoted Maikel Franco then stepped into the box and tied the game on a two-run single (Franco had previously tied the game at 3-3 as well). Follow that up with an Utley walk and a Herrera being hit-by-pitch, the bases were loaded, one out, tied at 5-5, the Phillies winning streak hanging in the balance. Long story short, Ruiz then grounded into another double play to end the inning.
Now that I have that Chooch-bashing out of my system, let’s look at how the team performed over those six games.
The Phillies six-game winning streak was the team’s longest since 2012. This winning streak was driven by some fantastic starting pitching, obviously led by Cole Hamels. In two starts, Hamels pitched 14.1 innings, only giving up three runs, and collecting 16 strikeouts. The Phillies other starters (Aaron Harang, Chad Billingsley, Jerome Williams, Sean O’Sullivan) combined to throw 25 innings while only giving up 4 runs.
It also helps that the Phillies scored 28 runs over those six games while only giving up 15. After all, the best way to win baseball games is to score more runs than you give up.
Even though the Phillies fought their way out of the cellar and currently have a 1-game lead on Miami for 4th place (Woo!), Phillies’ fans, and GM Ruben Amaro still weren’t under any misapprehension about this team. Maikel Franco is exciting, and he will provide a bit of spark on the team and for the fans. But, this team is pretty bad.
On the winning streak Ruben Amaro said, “We’re in a performance based industry and clearly it’s about wins and losses, especially in Philadelphia… We had much lower expectations going into the season.”
When asked about players developing during this time, Amaro said, “That’s the goal and anytime to can put wins together while you’re doing that, that’s great. But again, the expectations are still not super high, but the expectations we have is that these guys continue to develop and hopefully that’s happened.”
It’s perfectly understandable to be excited for the future. Franco is swinging the bat well so far and he’s made some incredible defensive plays already. But, this team isn’t going anywhere soon. No matter what kind of winning streak comes.