The Phillies improved to 39-26 (.600) following a series sweep in Atlanta. We use the off day to consider who they are and where they’re going.
Following their sweep in Atlanta, I thought I’d wake up this morning and read at least one story from a national outlet like USA Today, SI.com or ESPN suggesting this might be the Phillies year. No dice. They decided to run with Ozzie Guillen’s clubhouse rant, which is apparently the reason they've won six straight, and the human highlight reel known as Joba Chamberlain, who pitched all the way into the fifth inning against Kansas City.
Meanwhile, the business-like Phils kicked the Braves back to 6.5 games out of the division lead. Ryan Howard sprayed three doubles to all corners of the field and knocked in four runs as the Phils stepped on the necks of the Bravos 6-3 to complete the Shane Victorio Series sweep. Adam Eaton took his turn in giving the Phils the kind of starting effort they’ve come to expect, allowing three runs over six innings – his fourth quality start in a row. The big moment came when Eaton forced his 10th double-play of the season on a bases-loaded groundout by Jeff Francouer. After Eaton, the bullpen picked up the win, following two shutout innings by Chad Durbin (2-1) and Brad Lidge’s 17th save in as many tries.
So how is it possible to keep winning like this, with such regularity? With such efficiency? Beyond hitting, pitching, catching and running, is there something else? They’ve been more lucky than unlucky, certainly, and they’ve been blessed with good health; they’re the only team in baseball to have used only five starters since opening day. Mix in more career years than disasterous ones and .600 ball is what you get.
But is there more? Some believe they finally know how to win, and that a guy like Aaron Rowand showed them what it takes. Another reason is that getting over the playoff hump created a championship environment, and that players like Eaton – for example – have accepted the challenge and want to be along for the ride. And then there’s Charlie Manuel, believed to be the right match for this club. How about the fans? The two sides have finally settled on a truce. The Phillies will give us wins; we'll supply the juice.
Trade deadline primer: It's still a month and a half away, but it's about that time to start talking non-waiver trade deadline, where the Phillies should be active participants. Seth Everett of MLB.com was a guest of 610-WIP's morning show discussing the reported availability of problem-ace Eric Bedard. He also reports that Paul Byrd, along with C.C. Sabathia, could be on the block. Both pitchers are free agents after the season, and Byrd - unpopular as he was in Philadelphia - pitched well in the 2007 post-season.