I’ll admit, I’ve recently written a few sarcastic articles detailing how the playoffs were really just a figment of the imagination of Phillies players; that there was really no shot the Phils could make the playoffs, and that everyone was getting excited for nothing.
I called them dead men walking, silly people playing silly mind games in their silly worlds of make believe.
I basically called all you true believers foolish and ignorant.
Um, I’d like to amend some of those earlier comments.
You see, that was when the Phillies were seven games back and trailed about half a dozen teams for the last wild card spot. But in the span of three days, the Phils have gone from six games back of the Cardinals to now just three back with 19 games remaining, thanks to their 3-1 win over Marlins on Wednesday afternoon and St. Louis’ 3-2 loss to the Padres in San Diego.
The Phillies swept the Fish while the Cards got swept by the Friars.
Seriously, what the frack is going on here?
The Phils’ win on Wednesday was their seventh in a row, putting them over .500 at 72-71.
Clearly, the addition of Michael Martinez to the starting lineup has been the answer. Good riddance stupid Kevin Frandsen!
Is this possible? Could all this really be happening again? Are we witnessing the sequel to 2007, only more ridiculous? Charlie Manuel certainly thinks so.
“Yeah, we’re in it,” said manager Charlie Manuel. “We’re dead in it. I’d say we’re in it pretty good.”
There are still a lot of teams vying for this final playoff spot. The Dodgers, Pirates and Brewers all still have a lot to say about this little competition, and the Cardinals do hold a three-game advantage over Philadelphia. But this much is certain.
This thing is wide open. And NO ONE wants to see the Phillies get in the tournament.
Except maybe me. And you. And like a few million other people. OK, well, you get my point.
As for Wednesday’s game, Cliff Lee displayed the dominance that made him a $125 million man, going seven innings and giving up one unearned run on four hits. The lone run came thanks to a Jimmy Rollins error in the sixth.
However, Jimmy more than made up for it, continuing his recent power streak with a go-ahead two-run homer in the bottom of the seventh, giving the Phillies their 3-1 lead. It was Rollins’ team-leading 19th homer of the year, and he also leads the team in RBIs with 60. No Phillie shortstop has ever led the team in home runs or RBIs, so this would be a historic thing. Maybe they’ll make plaques!
“He’s always been a big-game player,” Manuel said of his shortstop. “Jimmy can hurt you. Jimmy knows how to hit and he has a good stroke and if you get guys in there to throw fastballs, he has enough patience to get good balls to hit at times.”
The Phillies had to fight back after falling in a 1-0 hole against Marlins’ ace Josh Johnson. Facing a similar situation earlier this year, the Phils probably would have wilted. But not this time. This time Lee and the bullpen (Aumont for a shut-down eighth and Papelbon in the ninth) refused to falter.
“In the minor leagues you try to win and get a ring and all of that, but when you’re down there it’s more about working on your stuff,” Aumont said after the game. “It seems a little selfish to say that, but the goal is to get to the big leagues. When you’re here it’s all about winning. And that’s why they pay guys, because you want to win championships.”
Make no mistake about it. Phillipe Aumont is going to be the Phils’ eighth inning guy in 2013. His stuff is dynamic, and it speaks volumes that Charlie Manuel is already using him in these clutch situations, with a playoff spot hanging in the balance. So far, the kid has come through with flying colors.
Not only that, it was cool seeing Lee pitch seven innings, then seeing the guy he was traded for hold onto his lead one inning later.
Life is a cycle. It goes around and around, circular, circular, like a circle. They cycle of life. All good things.
Suddenly, the Phillies have become a very dangerous team. Making things even scarier for the rest of the National League is their schedule. This week, the Phils travel to Houston for four games with the pathetically awful Houston Astros (45-97, .317 winning percentage) and three against the Mets in New York (65-77). And while the Phillies have historically struggled with Houston in these late-season games, and the Mets have had the Phils’ number this year, it seems unlikely these Astros and Mets can do much damage.
So, get your big boy pants on, National League. Because it’s starting to look like the Phillies are serious about making a run at a sixth straight playoff appearance after all.