Before this past Monday, the fans and media had left the Philadelphia Phillies for dead. They were 11 games under .500 with a record of 25-36, had lost eight of their last nine games and looked like they were headed for a massive fire sale once the trade deadline arrived at the end of July. The hitting was terrible, the pitching was a mess (with the exception of Cole Hamels) and it seemed like no one in the clubhouse had any answers.
The only person who seemed to have any faith in the Phillies was manager Ryne Sandberg. When he was asked about the status of his team and how they seemed to be in free fall with no end in sight, he said, “We haven’t had a hot streak yet. I believe we have a hot streak in there.”
That hot streak may have finally arrived.
Since that loss against the Cincinnati Reds, the Phillies have a three-game win streak going, having swept the San Diego Padres and they are now looking to extend their win streak to four as they welcome the struggling Chicago Cubs to Citizens Bank Park.
The amazing thing about the Phillies’ current winning ways is how they are doing it. The bat of infielder Reid Brignac has suddenly come alive, hitting a walk-off home run to win Wednesday’s game and then hitting a two-run double on Thursday to break a 2-2 tie. Much maligned John Mayberry Jr. filled in for Ryan Howard at first base on Thursday and ended the night with a three-run home run and two doubles. Both players seem intent on showing what they can do with the opportunity they have been given, especially Brignac. His play since taking over for Cody Asche at third base has been stellar, with a .233 batting average going into the series with the Cubs.
Combine that with Ken Giles making his major league debut with a 100 mph fastball, Jimmy Rollins continuing a solid season as he chases Phillies’ history and even Jonathan Papelbon doing his part on the mound, and you have a team that might finally be coming alive.
During their long history, the Phillies have always been a team that runs infuriatingly hot and cold, going months playing subpar baseball only to seemingly awaken in August or September. It’s part of the reason so many fans don’t truly count the Phillies out until the season is actually over. They are currently only six and a half games behind the Washington Nationals for first place in the NL East with a lot of baseball still to be played.
If the hot streak Sandberg talked about has indeed begun at last, it will not only make watching the Phillies play baseball fun again, it might just save a few people’s jobs in the process.