Don’t look now but the Philadelphia Phillies are unquestionably the hottest team in the major leagues after their seventh consecutive win, and they’re just a mere three games back of the St. Louis Cardinals in the National League wild card race.
The Phillies at one point were 37-51 and 14 games under .500. They spent the majority of the summer in last place in the NL East with Ryan Howard, Chase Utley, and Roy Halladay injured, Shane Victorino and Hunter Pence vastly underachieving, and Cliff Lee unable to pick up a win to save his life.
Now? Howard and Utley are healthy and playing regularly. Victorino and Pence are gone, and the Phillies aren’t missing them at all with the way those two are playing for their new teams. Lee has thrived in his last several starts, and Jimmy Rollins has been arguably the hottest player on the team as of late.
His two-run home run in the seventh inning propelled the Phillies to a 3-1 win over the Miami Marlins, completing a three-game sweep of the last place club in the NL East. The Phillies – once counted for dead – now seem to enjoy playing as underdogs. They are still three games back of the Cardinals, and the odds of Charlie Manuel’s team qualifying for the playoffs is less than 10 percent.
But give credit to the Phillies even if they come up short. They could have rolled over and played dead, sulked about all the injuries they’ve had this year, and just started looking ahead to 2013. They’ve continued to play hard though, showing up every day, and with a four-game series against the Houston Astros looming, the Phillies have a major opportunity to gain some serious ground.