‘High Hopes’ surging through Phillies Nation after sweeping the Rockies and Marlins

The Philadelphia Phillies have risen from the dead.  The 2012 season has not fared to well for the Phillies.  They have reached one game over .500 for the first time since they were 28-27 on June 3 and are hoping to make the playoffs for the 6th consecutive year, thanks to the addition of the second wild card.  After sweeping the Colorado Rockies and the Miami Marlins, the Phillies are now 3 games behind the St. Louis Cardinals in the wild card, with 19 games to go.

Wednesday evening in their battle against the Marlins, Cliff Lee toed the rubber for his 26th start of the season against right hander Josh Johnson (8-12).  He had a rough start the first half of the season, until finding his grove after the All-Star break.  After the Phillies 3-1 win, the left hander is now 5-7 and the Phillies move to 72-71.  For Lee to be successful the second half the season, he needed to forget about the first half.  Now in the middle of a playoff race, Lee looks like he is having fun again which can be deadly to the opposition.

”He looks like he’s enjoying pitching again,” manager Charlie Manuel said before Wednesday’s game.

For a team that was 37-51 on July 13 and seemed out of contention, has been rallying on clutch hits from unheralded players and brilliant starting pitching.  Roy Halladay seems to be getting his swagger back, while Cole Hamels has been nothing but exceptional in showing his franchise that he is worth every penny of that $144 million contract he signed in late July.

The Phillies 15-4 record is the best in the National League since Aug. 23 and are 21-8 in their last 29 home games, while their starting pitching is 15-5 over their last 28 games.

The 2012 team doesn’t entirely resemble the 2007 Phillies; however, there are similarities with shortstop Jimmy Rollins hitting baseballs all over the field and nearly dominant pitching.  Since being pulled from the game against the New York Mets last month, Rollins has been on fire.  He has a .326 batting average (15-46) with two doubles, four home runs and nine RBIs so far this month and doesn’t seem to be letting up.

Nothing surprises me, because I’ve been through the same situation,” said Marlins shortstop Jose Reyes, who watched the Phillies catch them in the standings in 2007 while a member of the Mets. “I don’t count them out, at all.”

They may not have a powerful offense, but their starters are getting deep in to games and clutch pitching from their bullpen.  Also, their most consistent hitter, Carlos Ruiz is back in the line-up, picking up right where he left off after being on the DL for a month with a left foot injury.  With Ruiz back in time, the Phillies can now continue their surge as they continue to dig deep to make the postseason.

We’re in it,” manager Charlie Manuel said. ”We’re dead in it pretty good.”

Notes: The Phillies will start a four game series in Houston against the Astros on Thursday night at 8:05 PM ET.  Tyler Cloyd (1-1) will start the four game series against Lucas Harrell (10-9) to open the series.

Categories: Baseball,Columnist