Philadelphia Phillies: Walk-off Heroics Are Coming at Just the Right Time
They say lightning doesn't strike the same place twice, and in the case of the Philadelphia Phillies, who are coming off of three straight comeback wins including two thrilling walk-offs, that saying is definitely correct.
The team, which for the better part of the season has been a disappointment and injury-riddled group, has proven lately that lightning doesn't strike the same place just twice—it does it three times.
Not to completely kill this lightning metaphor, but ever since the All-Star Game ended, with the exception of two games in the San Francisco Giants series, the Phillies really have caught lightning in a bottle, and they most definitely are not ready to let it go.
Since the start of the second half of the season, the Phillies are 8-4, including two season-high four-game winning streaks. They are averaging about 4.6 runs a game during this time and have not yet played a game where they scored less than two.
For a team that had yet to win a game when trailing after eight, the Phillies have now done that twice as they came back from a four-run deficit in the ninth and a six-run deficit in the eighth of the first two games of the Milwaukee Brewers series. The third game of this series also marked the second time in three games that the Phils won on their final at-bat.
There is no doubt that the Phillies' recent success can be attributed to their players stepping up. Eric Kratz, the backup catcher for the Phillies, was huge in each game of the series, scoring the game-winning run in Game 1, hitting a two-run home run that led the eighth-inning comeback in Game 2 and going 3-3 with the game-tying RBI in Game 3.
Jimmy Rollins also had a good series, topping it off with the game-winning RBI to help the Phillies do something they had yet to do this season—sweep a series.
On top of this, the heart of the order for the Phillies is starting to heat up, and it couldn't be happening at a more vital time. Carlos Ruiz has not had a weak moment this season, but recently Ryan Howard and Chase Utley are starting to get back into their normal groove.
Are the playoff still possible for the Phillies?
Utley is taking pitches and has worked out eight walks recently as well. He is getting on base in whatever way he can and is starting to really hit the ball like the old Chase Utley. Perhaps the most promising stat about Utley, however, is that he has played in six consecutive games, and it doesn't seem like he will be missing a significant amount of games for the rest of the season.
Howard is also starting to get hot. He too has four home runs, three of which have come in the last seven days. His average is starting to climb, and so are his production numbers, as the guys in front of him are getting on base so that he can actually do his job of driving them in.
Taking the good with the bad, the one thing that has gone wrong since the break is the starting pitching staff. Luckily for them, however, the bullpen and offense have really carried the team and helped to mask some of the starters' not-so-perfect outings. For the majority of the season, it has been this same bullpen and offense that have let down the pitchers, but now they are the ones picking them up.
The way this team is playing, they have their confidence back, they have their fight back. They are finding ways to win ballgames and are outlasting their opponents, showing the mark of a playoff team, something the Phils may manage to become if they keep playing like this.
Once seeming like an unlikely possibility, the Phillies are making waves in the Wild Card race. They are only 9.5 games behind the Atlanta Braves, a team against which they have a very pivotal three-game series in just a few days.
The problem, however, is that against the Braves, Nationals and other top NL opponents, the pitching is going to be better. The closers they face are going to be better then KRod, who in an off-year has only converted three saves in nine opportunities. They aren't always going to be able to get those comeback wins.
Still, the Phillies are making things possible again. They are making us believers that maybe—just maybe—they can make a miracle happen. The core of the team is back, healthy and starting to produce, the starting staff is set for the rest of the season, the bullpen, although still a little shaky, is performing better now that Kyle Kendrick is back in the relief role and, most importantly, we can all breathe a sigh of relief as trade rumors surrounding Cole Hamels are officially dead and buried.
This team is playing like they did in 2008, and it is a good thing they are. Because it is exactly that kind of play that it is going to take going forward for the Phillies to make the playoffs and continue to have us on the edge of our seats.
It is that team that made us believers in a World Series Championship, and it is this team in 2012, that is doing its best in the second half of the season to keep that belief and that dream alive.
What is the duplicate article?
Why is this article offensive?
Where is this article plagiarized from?
Why is this article poorly edited?