Phillies Fan Reaction (PFR) Gm 81: NYM 3, PHI 6 - Bamboom
Updated: Jan 11
There's no way possible that I could cover the entire Phillies first half in one article. Thankfully, they produced a game Thursday that sums it up pretty well.
The Philadelphia Phillies WIN, 6-3, in walk-off fashion, over the New York Mets, completing a four-game sweep of their hated rivals. They are now 4-0 in the bamboo era. For those of you who are used to hockey, welcome to baseball, a sport where the beanballs are plenty and the bullpens are terrible. But in the end, it usually works out.
Starting small picture, the Phillies have now won four straight games after losing seven in a row. The catalyst for their turnaround, according to most, is a good luck bamboo plant veteran journeyman Brad Miller brought to the clubhouse on Monday. It has spread like wildfire through the team and the fanbase alike.
The Phillies, who overcame 2-0 deficits on Monday and Tuesday and a 4-0 setback on Wednesday, found themselves locked in a pitchers duel on Thursday afternoon. Both the Mets' Zach Wheeler and the Phillies' Aaron Nola, the team's ace who has struggled most of the year, were brilliant. Going into the top of the ninth, only one run had been scored - a solo home run by stupid money recipient Bryce Harper in the sixth, his fourteenth of the year.
It was in the ninth where all heck broke lose. Phillies closer Hector Neris has recovered from a brutal start to 2018 and became dominant once again. But working for the third straight day, Neris surrendered a two-run homer to Todd Frazier. By the time the dust settled, another run had crossed the plate, giving the Mets a 3-1 lead going to the bottom of the ninth.
But if you have been following the Phillies lately, you would know about the power of bamboo. Heading into Monday, the Phils had lost seven straight, including a three-game sweep at the hands of the lowly Marlins. As mentioned before, Miller brought a small bamboo plant to the clubhouse that he claimed would turn things around.
It worked not only the first three games of the series, but Thursday afternoon as well. Maikel Franco started the year as the Phillies third baseman, but was struggling and losing playing time. But he came up clutch with a missile two-run home run of elite closer Edwin Diaz to the tie the score. It was his third home run of the series. A few batters later, Jean Segura laced his second big fly in as man days, a three-run crank, to end the game for good.
Thursday's contest marked the official halfway point of the Phillies season -- eighty-one games down, eighty-one games to go (for the regular season, at least). They are 43-38, the same record they had at this point in their title winning 2008 campaign. They trail the Atlanta Braves for the NL East lead by 4.5 games, but lead the Colorado Rockies by .5 games for the second and final Wild Card spot in the National League.
There are still many areas to improve. The starting rotation has been inconsistent, led by Nola. The bullpen is seemingly the most constant group to drop the ball. And the offense, while stacked on paper, has been depleted hasn't been doing as well as they should be by several underlying metrics. Andrew McCutchen (torn ACL) isn't coming back this year. Odubel Herrera (domestic violence) shouldn't be back for, well, probably ever.
GM Matt Klentak has his work cut out for him, as does manager Gabe Kapler, who isn't going anywhere, regardless what sports talk radio and extremist fans pout. The trade deadline is July 31st, and the group that played today will not be the same one that takes the field August 1st. There is as good a chance the Phillies win their division as there is they miss the playoffs entirely, potentially extending a eight-year drought of a lack of meaningful October baseball.
However, the last four games have offered hope. Even with the injuries, there is still a tremendous level of talent on this year's team, and there will be chances to add even more. Watching the Phillies down the stretch will be thrilling -- a little nerve-wracking for sure, but definitely thrilling. If they can maintain the determination and comradery, there are high hopes that there are far more than eighty-one games left to play.