Sunday, July 11, 2010

Improbable & Irrepressible

All of a sudden the Phillies have gone from a dysfunctional team that was no fun to watch to a bunch of magicians whom we can't take our eyes off. Three straight walk-off victories will do that!

Last night's improbable victory outdid the heroics of the night before when the Phils rallied from a 7-1 deficit to begin the ninth only to win in extra innings. Going into the bottom of the ninth last night not a single guy in red pinstripes had managed a hit, walk or HBP against Cincinnati rookie Travis Wood, making his third major league start. The only thing standing between themselves and ignominy was the Phils' own Roy Halladay, who also pitched superbly in shutting out the Reds on five hits. Poor Halladay; the Phils just refuse to support him with runs.

Carlos Ruiz opened the ninth with a double, the Phils' first and only base runner up til then. How much have the Phils missed Chooch? Well, before you answer that, consider he followed up that first hit with a one-out double off the wall in left in the eleventh inning. OK, now you can say it: a hell of a lot! Chooch handles this staff better than anyone. The hits are gravy...and occasionally face- and game-saving.

After an intentional walk to Wilson Valdez and a fly out by Ross Gload, up strode Jimmy Rollins, who'd been held hitless until then. Who hadn't...other than Ruiz? Jimmy hit a single to right, Ruiz scored, and the Phils had perhaps their most improbable victory of the season.

So, go ahead, ask yourself this: how much did the Phils miss Jimmy Rollins during his two stints on the DL this season? Since returning, the irrepressible one has had two walk-off victory base hits. There isn't a way to measure Jimmy's value to this team. He puts on his uniform and the Phils are better for it.

These three straight victories over a very good Reds team are the first consistent signs of life in the Phillies in a long time and fit their pattern over the last few seasons of playing inspired ball after July 4th. They should be getting Placido Polanco back in a week or so and may still be searching for another starter via a trade.

There's life in these guys yet.

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