- Updated: July 11, 2014
When a team is struggling, something they tend to say is “we’ll get it turned around”. They’ll say it from late May all the way to late July. By August, they usually accept the fact that the season is over.
The Phillies have coined this phrase several times in 2014, and at certain points it seemed like they might turn the corner. Then they got swept by the Atlanta Braves at home, and again by the Pirates at PNC Park.
Just when all hoped seemed to be lost, this team pulls a rabbit out of its collective hat, and sweeps the Milwaukee Brewers in a four game series. The Brewers came into that series with the league’s best record, and the Phillies had not completed a four game sweep since 2011.
The Phils brought their four game winning streak back home tonight to face the division leading Washington Nationals. The Nats presented both an opportunity and a challenge for Philadelphia. Win or sweep this series, and the Phillies would put a nice dent in the nine game deficit between them and the Nationals.
Veteran acquisition Grady Sizemore made his 2014 debut for the Phils today, after 12 games at Triple-A Lehigh Valley. Not only did Sizemore debut, but he was put in the lead-off spot by Ryne Sandberg.
The Phils continued their hot hitting of late, putting up a two spot in the both the second and third innings. Dom Brown has been a streaky hitter the last few years, but he’s been hot of late and that continued tonight. He would single home Marlon Byrd and Cody Asche to give Philly a 2-0 lead in the second. Sizemore would lead off the third with a single, and would score on a two run homer by Jimmy Rollins, putting the Phils up 4-0.
Marlon Byrd would score again in the sixth inning on a single by catcher Cameron Rupp. Rollins then topped off the scoring in the seventh inning with his second home run of the game, a solo shot to give the Phils a five run lead.
A.J. Burnett was tonight’s starter, and he was spot on. He can be an adventure at times, frequently getting himself in trouble with walks. He walked four tonight, but also struck out six. He allowed a total of two runs on five hits in 7.2 innings pitched. He stranded six Nationals on base, and the Nats were just 1-8 with runners in scoring position. Their lone hit with men in scoring position came against Ken Giles, not Burnett.
The Phillies have now won five games in a row, and sit eight games out of first place in the division. Tomorrow’s game features a prime time match-up given how well this team is playing. Cole Hamels faces off against Stephen Strasburg for Washington. Two of the best young hurlers in baseball go head to head in a series that all of a sudden has more meaning than some may think.
Sweep the series, and the Phils would be six games out going into the all-star break. A lot can happen between now and the midsummer classic, but this much is clear. The Phillies season may or may not be over by the home run derby.
Stats Courtesy of Phillies.com
Photo Courtesy of NJ.com