If there was ever a time for this aging Philadelphia Phillies team to turn their season around, that door was opened Wednesday night after Ryan Howard hit a mammoth walk-off home run off Boone Logan. It allowed the team to come from behind to beat the Colorado Rockies 6-3.
The setting on Thursday night was perfect to build a winning streak. The rival New York Mets were in town to open up a five game series, with a reeling Zack Wheeler on the mound.
Since the beginning of the 2012 season, the Phillies have not been able to piece many winning streaks together. During the past two seasons-plus, this team has posted winning streaks of seven, six, and five games, with a handful of four-gamers. Yes, the Phillies have had walk-off wins over the past few seasons, yet last night’s felt different.
It was exciting. And it was exciting because the players that the diminishing fans who still come to the ballpark and still pay to see, were the guys to come through; Chase Utley tied it and Howard won it.
Enter a pitcher who was 1-5 with a 4.63 ERA on the season and who was giving up a .276 BA (.329 BA against lefties) to opponents. Philadelphia knew they were going to have to score some runs with a pitcher of their own in David Buchanan making his second career start. To Buchanan’s credit, he still threw a quality start. The Phillies’ offense however, was far from quality; in fact, they were abysmal.
Wheeler did show why he was such a highly rated prospect on Thursday night, as he struck out nine and retired 14 Phillies in a row at one point. However, it was the Phillies’ offense who should be taking credit for many of the outs the Mets were able to get. Philadelphia’s approach at the plate was almost comical, as the team struck out a total of 15 times. They managed four total hits and only three of them got out of the infield. As for Howard’s encore: four strikeouts.
As a result of all of this, the Mets won the opening game of the series 4-1, and as entertaining as Wednesday’s comeback was, Thursday night simply brings Phillies fans back to reality. There is a silver lining here. Philadelphia sits only four games out of the weak NL East. However, it is extremely hard to imagine that the Phillies can make any noise in this division if they cannot piece together a win just one day after one of their most impressive victories in over two years.