While most of you were sleeping, the Phillies became baseball’s top story. Pinch-hitter Rod Barajas singled home the winning run with two outs in the 14th inning as the Phils beat the Cards 7-4 early this morning.
Coupled with the Mets’ 9-8 loss in Washington, the Phillies are as close to the division lead as they’ve been since the second game of the season, moving to within 1 1-2 games of the plummeting Mets.
Left for dead, the division was just a fantasy only days ago, when the Phillies and their depleted pitching staff trailed the Mets by seven games following a 12-0 thrashing by Colorado. Since then, the Phils have rattled off six-straight unconventional wins, including the three-game sweep in New York. With 12 to play, 11 for the Phillies, the Mets are suddenly confronted with a collapse of epic proportions. No team has ever held a seven-game lead with 17 games to play and failed to make the playoffs (Elias via Inquirer).
Playing second fiddle to the abrupt division swing is the preposterous way in which the Phillies are winning these games. Last night takes the cake. Jose Mesa pitched two innings for the win. Clay Condrey picked up the save. Both pitchers nearly blew a 12-3 lead just yesterday. Rod Barajas hasn’t been talked about in months. The bottom of the lineup drove in all the runs while the main ingredients, one-through-five, produced little.
For the Mets, it was their fifth loss in a row, joining the Red Sox as another team on the brink of collapse. The Sox have lost three straight to watch their lead dwindle to 2 1-2 games over the Yankees.
As Jim Salisbury noted in today’s column, two races are better than one. The Phillies, who pushed their record to a season-best 13 games over .500 (82-69), remain 1 1-2 back of the steady Padres.
Beerleaguer: The absurd Phillies needed some luck and help, and they’re getting it. It’s funny how of all the nutty developments, the Mets’ freefall has been the most predictable. They’re beaten down and exposed, nobody more than John Maine, who squandered a big lead yesterday. Time will tell whether the one left standing in the NL East will be the better team, or the one saved by the bell.