Wednesday night’s 3-2 win over the New York Mets was, for the Philadelphia Phillies, symbolic of the way the 2012 season has gone.
It’s been a long season for the Phillies and part of that reason has been a very quiet offense. The team is currently ninth in the National League in runs scored.
Even with strong pitching performances from their starters the bats have not held their end of the bargain, resulting in a season that saw the Phillies go 13 games under .500 at the All-Star break. For example, Cliff Lee is 22nd in all of Major League Baseball with a 3.27 ERA but he is 21 st on the list of worst run support in the league at 3.89 runs scored in support per game. He has only six wins on the season despite some brilliant pitching performances.
A lack of offense and run support was once again the case Wednesday night. Despite Cole Hamels going six inning and allowing only two runs and the bullpen pitching another two scoreless innings the Phillies trailed going into the top of the ninth 2-1.
The offense had mustered up one run on two hits the entire first eight innings of the game. They forced only three walks. And that lone run? It came on the first at-bat of the game thanks to a Jimmy Rollins solo shot. It was a long night of dormancy, much like the majority of the season has been.
But the Phillies have come alive lately, going 12-5 in September, breaking .500 and clawing to within four games back of the second Wild Card spot.
They continued to fight Wednesday night.
Down to the team’s last out in the top of the ninth inning Chase Utley—who didn’t play his first game until June 27—drew a walk on an eight-pitch at-bat.
Then the struggling Ryan Howard—who didn’t play his first game until July 6 and is hitting a career-low .225—came to the plate. Howard slugged an 0-1 fastball into the upper deck, giving the Phillies a one-run lead, which they would hold on to for the victory.
Just when the Phillies were counted all but out of this game the team continued to fight and make plays to come from behind.
And that’s really what this season has been about. After all the injuries, after all the losses, after all the trades of big pieces of the lineup many people looked past the five-time defending NL East champions.
But here they are in September with a chance—albeit a long-shot—at making the post-season for a sixth consecutive season. Guys filled in for those injured, suspended or traded. They made plays. They just kept fighting.
That resiliency showed against the Mets Wednesday night and it’s the main reason why that win was more than just a feel-good game. That resiliency is why that win had playoff implications for the Phillies.
AP Photo/Frank Franklin II