Out of the 9 Phillies Opening Day 2012 starters, 6 have landed either on the disabled list or with another team at some point during the year. And that does not even include Ryan Howard and Chase Utley, who started the year on the DL. So basically, 8 out of 9 regular starters missed a lot of time this year. The only one who avoided either a trade or the DL was Jimmy Rollins.
It is fitting then that a 2-run shot from J-Roll last night led the team to a 3-game sweep of the Miami Marlins. Cliff Lee did his part as well, allowing just 1 run, which was unearned due to an error, over 7 innings.
The win has placed the Phillies only 3 games back in the Wild Card race, which is something not many people saw coming. This team was beaten up so badly throughout most of the year and played so poorly that a possible playoff run, until now, seemed impossible. Here is a look at the Wild Card standings:
But even after a 7-game win streak, is all this new playoff hope just fool’s gold or can the Phillies really sneak in the backdoor? Consider this: 6 of those 7 games in the streak came against two of the worst teams in baseball, the Marlins and the Rockies. Just a few weeks ago, the Phillies lost a series to the Mets, who are also pretty bad.
Then again, the momentum of a 7-game win streak could be enough to help elevate the Phillies performance and confidence to the point where they can start stomping on good teams as well. But we are not going to know if that is possible for a while as the Houston Astros are next on the agenda. With a record of 45-98, the Astros are by far the worst team in all of baseball. Losing even 1 of the 4 games against the Astros would be a tragedy.
So maybe this series could be a descent barometer after all. Because if the Phillies struggle against the Astros, I think the faint light of playoff hopes would be markedly dimmed. But if they beat the crap out of the Astros, as they very well should, then go ahead and keep the light of hope burning. Then we can all say, “Watch out National League! Here come the Phillies…”