At least one missing element in the Phillies' 2008 season Version 4.1 has been found and installed: last minute heroics.
The Phils improbable ninth inning comeback against the Astros had a little bit of everything: a pinch-hit home run by recent call-up Chris Snelling; another round-tripper from a rejuvenated Pat Burrell; a strikeout/passed ball that gave second life to Geoff Jenkins; Jenkins running through a stop sign at third base to score the winning run all the way from first base on a double by Pedro Feliz; and last but not least, a call that went the Phillies' way on a play at the plate.
Good teams need luck to go with their pluck and the Phils had a little bit of each last night as they awakened from their eight inning slumber to rally from three runs down, beat the Astros and even their season's record at seven wins and seven losses.
Lost but not forgotten in the win was another solid outing by Adam Eaton, his third straight "quality start" as defined in the new millennium. Eaton got no decision for the third straight time as well, but neither he nor his teammates will be complaining. With Cole Hamels pitching lights out, Brett Myers see-sawing between competent and disappointing, the steady performances of Eaton have been critical. With two weeks left in April there is still plenty of time for the Phils to banish the cruelest month's curse. Now, if only they could stay healthy, their bats would wake up and their gloves would turn from stone to leather, this team might take advantage of the overall mediocrity in their division and start to make a move early rather than late.
Speaking of health, the loss of Jimmy Rollins and Shane Victorino has taken a serious toll at the top of the order which has been largely unproductive since the two spark plugs went down. Rollins has pinch hit in two straight games but still complains of pain when he moves laterally in the field. When he first injured his ankle the reports suggested it was nothing serious. Five games later he still isn't able to start. On a team whose medical staff has little or no credibility with the sporting public, Rollins' absence only confirms our worst fears, namely, he might be out longer than originally suggested. We have gotten spoiled by Jimmy's own Iron Man history; even one or two absences is hard to accept let alone adjust to. Meanwhile, Victorino was put on the 15-day DL Sunday, raising yet again the question of whether he can ever remain healthy enough to play a full season. Part of his problem is that he plays all out. Like his predecessor in center field, Victorino only knows one speed. Some times, throttling back a little is a better approach, personally and for the team.