Ruben Amaro started the week by letting the players know that if things didn’t turn around quickly the dreaded fire-sale would be right around the corner. Nothing like an ultimatum to wake up a team. The Phils responded with a 4-2 week, but even more impressive was who they did it against. The club took 2 of 3 games from both the Pirates and the Braves (two 1st place teams).
Aside from a forgettable Saturday blowout to the Braves they were competitive in every game, and could have easily made it a 5-1 week. Alas, the team is still stuck below .500 and is no closer to keeping Ruben from blowing the whole thing up. Losing Ryan Howard to the DL hurts, but cult hero Darin Ruff will have to fill his shoes for the time being. The all-star break looms over the club this week making it even more important to keep the momentum going, or else the team will start to look a lot different come August.
Game of the Week:
7/5/13 Phillies 5, Braves 4
There was no spectacular comeback, flashy plays, or historic milestones in this one. What separated this Phillies win for the rest is what didn’t happen. Through 6 innings Cliff Lee and the Phillies were cruising. They had a 5-0 lead on the strength of two home runs provided by Ryan Howard and Humberto Quintero. The win was seemingly in the bag, until the 7th inning rolled around. Lee hit a rare wall despite a low pitch count, and the Braves knocked him out of the game. Clinging to a 1-run lead Charlie Manuel brought in J.C. Ramirez to lock things down. If fans were nervous before JC entered, his presence sent them into a panic. Despite the trepidation from the fans, Ramirez, Bastardo and Papelbon came in to shut down the Braves and clinch the victory for the Phillies. It’s a sad state of affairs when the bullpen doing it’s job deserves extra mention, but it’s important to give credit where credit is due.
Player of the Week:
This week’s award goes to Jonathan Pettibone. The rookie won both of his starts, doing it against two dangerous lineups. The Pirates got 9 hits off the young righty, but he minimized the damage and kept the Phils in the game. He was even more impressive against a stellar Braves lineup, pitching 7 innings surrendering only one earned. He lowered his ERA to an even 3.00, and has filled in better than anyone could have hoped for the injured Roy Halladay. He’s not a future ace, or even a number 2, but Pettibone has shown composure well beyond his years and looks to be around for the near and distant future.
I don’t believe in must win games or series. That said, the Phils face a critical 4-game series against the Nats that could decide the course of the season. Anything short of winning 3 outta 4 just won’t cut it. The team not only has to make it back to .500, but get close enough in the wild-card/division race to make Ruben think twice about selling. Expect a clear outlook for teams buyer/seller status by weeks end one way or the other.