During the first full weekend of September, the Philadelphia Phillies hosted the Atlanta Braves for a three game set. Previous to this stint, the Phillies were 7-8 against their NL East counterparts, including losses in five of their last six meetings. This weekend, however, behind interim manager Ryne Sandberg, the Phillies were able to sweep the Braves and win not one, not two, but three nine-inning, one-run contests. The wins increased the Phils’ home record to a respectable 39-33, and diminished the Braves’ road record and sent them under .500.
The fact that the Phillies are still competing and playing at a high enough level to win games speaks volumes of Sandberg and the resilience of the team as a whole. The Phillies could have easily geared down the rest of the season and cruised into the 2013 offseason on a low note. However, they have done the exact opposite.
Sandberg, since getting the interim tag, has this team playing full nine-inning contests and playing their tails off the whole time doing so. He is north of .500 since his managerial career started, and he has the Phillies competing and winning in almost every game. Not bad, considering the lack of talent he’s had to insert into the lineup, or place on the mound or in the outfield.
All of these close wins prove that the Phillies have the ability to win contests on a nightly basis. The veteran players are playing solidly, and the “youth movement” that has occurred has brought added energy and enthusiasm to a dugout that once looked old and exhausted. With the likes of Dominic Brown, Cody Asche, Darin Ruf, along with team captain Chase Utley and a rotation starring two aces, the Phillies are primed to win more games this season, and even more during the 2014 run.
Even if they fail to win consistently next season, at least we can end 2013 on a positive note.