The Phillies have been on a tear lately, and a lot has been going on down at Citizens Bank Park, as the Phillies try to catch up to the Atlanta Braves.
The Phillies gained another game on the Braves today with their 8th win in a row tonight. They did it in walk off style to sweep the Diamondbacks, on an 11th inning RBI single from Wilson Valdez. How many people when the season started would have thought the Phillies would be winning a big game in late July on a walk off hit by Wilson Valdez, scoring Cody Ransom. Well tonight, the 6-7-8 hitters were huge, as Ransom, Ruiz, and Valdez all had good games. Ruiz has been ripping the cover off the ball the past few games.
This all comes the day after yesterday's 7-1 win... also known as the debut of Domonic Brown. Brown had a huge debut, going 2-3 with a double, a single, 2 RBI's, and 2 runs scored. Brown took his first at bat and almost went deep, taking a pitch and going off the top of the fence in right field. Brown is a 5 tool player who looks like he is the real deal. Roy Halladay's starts rarely go unnoticed, but when Domonic Brown was doing what he was doing, not many people noticed Halladay quietly dominating, as he has basically done all year long.
This is all being done as the Phillies are still missing key players in the lineup. Chase Utley remains out of the lineup, and will probably be out for another 3 weeks or so. Jimmy Rollins fouled a ball off his foot, and missed the last 3 games, but hopefully will return to the lineup. Shane Victorino strained his oblique in Tuesday night's game, which is why Domonic Brown is in the lineup. As much as I rip of Victorino, I don't like both him and Rollins being out of the lineup, as they are our 2 fastest players on the team.
With all the injuries, Ryan Howard has been a rock in the lineup. I believe there should start being some Ryan Howard MVP talk. Howard has struggled the past 2 days, but is batting .295 currently, and has been above .300 a lot of the season. He has 23 home runs, and leads the NL in RBI's by a long shot. Howard is probably around 2nd or 3rd in the current NL MVP pecking order but if the Phillies make the playoffs, Ryan Howard has to be strongly considered to win the award. Guys like Joey Votto, Adrian Gonzalez, and Albert Pujols are probably also in the mix.
Not only has Howard put up solid numbers all year long, he has been the guy who has stayed healthy. I am not blaming the guys who have been injured, but at any point if we lost Howard along with a Rollins, or Victorino, or especially Utley, the lineup would struggle big time. Howard has been the rock in the lineup, and there is no replacing him as the clean up hitter. Placido Polanco has been the only other guy who has been healthy and not gone into any type of slump.
Any way you look at it, the Phillies are playing great baseball right now, and hopefully will keep it up with Roy Oswalt joining the squad. The Phillies go on the road now, and start with a 3 game series in Washington. Roy Oswalt will be on the bump tomorrow night for the Phillies. The Phillies currently sit 2.5 games back of the first place Atlanta Braves, and it feels like they were about 7 games back a week ago.
Even though we were very frustrated as of recently, it is nice to have an enjoyable Phillies team to watch, and have a team to root for going into August and September, and then hopefully into the playoffs.