It wasn’t always pretty to watch. This Philadelphia Phillies team often makes it more difficult than it need be. Baserunning errors, poor at-bats, lapses of concentration and few run-producing hits in strategic situations. This critical road trip could have ended much differently.
Having just recorded the final out of the series with the Arizona Diamondbacks, Phillies closer Jonathan Papelbon literally put a definitive stamp on yesterday’s important win. For the second game in a row, he successfully came through and helped the Phils finish this West coast swing with a 4-3 winning record.
With both the Atlanta Braves and Washington Nationals losing, this game was an opportunity to gain some much-needed ground on the NL East front-runners. On West coast swings of their own this week, and with current losing streaks in progress, both the Braves and Nats have faltered lately.
Interestingly, the Phillies’ losses on this road trip were all by one run. The pitching was more than adequate, but the hitting wasn’t. Yesterday’s hero, Ryan Howard, was a missing piece of the offense for the most part. On this trip, he went 0-for-18 with nine strikeouts before his timely single yesterday in the 10th inning gave the Phillies a two-run margin of victory.
Despite the challenges facing the Phillies in their uphill battle to reach .500, their efforts over the past week deserve credit. Sure, they could have won the one-run losses with a tad more sweet spot swats. Yes, there should be some intensive baserunning instruction for all players.
But, they captured one more game than they lost on this trip. It could have been better … but it could have been a whole lot worse. For now, the Phillies have bought some time: time to get the offense on track, time to get baserunners going in the right direction, time to find some capable bullpen help and time to enjoy being back at Citizen’s Bank Park.
It’s a luxury they’ve seldom enjoyed so far this season.