Posted by Kevin Durso
As you watched Vance Worley allow five runs in the first inning yesterday while the Dodgers batted around, you had no right to turn the game off. Not because there were eight more innings to play, but because it was the Phillies first implosion of a game since the All-Star Break.
Down 6-0 by the end of the third, that never-say-die attitude was in the air. First, Hunter Pence got the Phillies on the board with a bang, sparking a three-run fourth. By reaching on an error, Pence was right in the middle of a two-run fifth. The comeback came complete in the sixth when Chase Utley's two-out, two-run single tied things up. And before you could even let that sink in, Ryan Howard was admiring his go-ahead blast. Three innings, nine runs, and one amazing comeback, the first of six or more runs since almost a year ago exactly, when the Dodgers let a 9-2 lead in the 8th slip to a 10-9 Phillies win.
ESPN's Buster Olney gave the Phillies the type of nod that goes to teams like the Red Sox and Yankees. Olney tweeted after Pence's homer, "The Phillies have reached the stage of dominance when they are trailing by five runs it feels like a win for them is inevitable."
Every word of that is true. The Phillies just make winning seem like a given. And why wouldn't they have won over the faith of the city with a stretch of massive win streaks, successful road trips, and a series of every variety of game imaginable.
Just look at the results of the Phillies 9-1 road trip:
Aug. 1 at Rockies – W 4-3 F/10 Aug. 2 at Rockies – W 5-0 Aug. 3 at Rockies – W 8-6 Aug. 4 at Giants – W 3-0 Aug. 5 at Giants – W 9-2 Aug. 6 at Giants – W 2-1 Aug. 7 at Giants – L 3-1 Aug. 8 at Dodgers – W 5-3 Aug. 9 at Dodgers – W 2-1 Aug. 10 at Dodgers – W 9-8
The Phillies pitched their way to two shutouts over the trip. They won two games by a score of 2-1 where the opponent's run came with two outs in the ninth. One of those games featured a pitcher going deep. Two were come-from-behind wins, the first being most dramatic, the last being most impressive.
The entire road trip was made up of test after test for the Phillies. There's a reason it was the best in franchise history. Look at every win there. A closer look shows that every win was the same…a complete team effort.
When a team meshes this well, greatness likely follows. Perhaps the scariest part of the Phillies' recent run – 16-4 over 20 games in 20 days – is that the Phillies essentially have the entire Opening Day roster healthy. They are all producing, lineup top to bottom, rotation every cycle, bullpen night after night. And it's only August 11th.
The Postseason schedule was released yesterday. If everything holds suit, and at this point it most likely will, the Phillies will host Game 1 of the NLDS on October 1st. That's 51 days and 45 games away. And even with a 77-40 record, a mark that is incredible now and will likely go to record-breaking by the end of the season, everything will be wiped away.
But, for right now, that really doesn't seem to matter. This Phillies team ranks right up there with 1976, 1977, 1980, 1993, and 2008, and they have captivated this city, and grabbed the national attention away from teams like the Yankees and Red Sox.
The Phillies are truly the game's elite. The only thing left to prove for them is still 51 days and 45 games away.