Having entered the All-Star break as the worst team in baseball, there seemed to be little hope that the Phillies might improve this year. But since returning to action, the Phillies have an 8-1 record, with sweeps of both the Marlins and the Cubs. In addition, the team brought up rookie pitcher Aaron Nola, who has had two very solid starts so far and collected his first major league win yesterday. Every starter, including Nola, had a hit in the game with only 3 players lacking a multi-hit game. It was the team we have been waiting to see all year. Where have they been?
But the most amazing feat in the last 10 days was the no-hitter thrown by Cole Hamels on Saturday against the Cubs. It is strange that it took Hamels this long to finally add the no-hitter to his resume. But his timing could not have been better for the Phillies who are trying to trade Hamels. After two of the worst starts in his career, Hamels pitched a gem to redeem himself. He also may have pitched his way out of a Phillies uniform.
Hamels has been tied to many teams in trade rumors, especially the Dodgers and Rangers. With 4-plus days to go until the trade deadline, there is no telling what can happen. But if Saturday was Cole’s last start in a Phillies uniform, it was quite a way for him to go out.
So what can we attribute this sudden Phillies awakening to, besides Hamels’ no-hitter? Obviously, the break must have helped. Players are well rested and less stressed. But how much of this improvement might be due to the exit of manager Ryne Sandberg? Clearly, these guys are giving full effort for interim manager Pete Mackanin. I am not sure the same could be said for Sandberg, who many guys just did not seem to relate to. Then again, it could be a fluke and the Phillies may go right back to their losing ways tomorrow when they begin a short two-game series with the Blue Jays.
I supposed time will tell. But for now, Phillies fans can bask in the glow of a nice win streak, emerging rookies and a spectacular no-hitter. Game time tomorrow is 7:07pm.