Excuse me if I’m a bit stunned by this seemingly underwhelming stat, but the Phillies are at a season-best 13-games over the .500 mark. It’s a plateau some believed would not come this year with the way things had been progressing.
Consider this: They are two games behind the Atlanta Braves in the NL East, but if you’ve been paying attention to the rest of the league, they are also two games behind the Texas Rangers who have been one of the most productive teams all season. Hell, a little over a month ago – July 7 to be exact – the Phillies sat six back in the division and were three behind the second place Mets. Now, the Mets are nine back in the NL East, SEVEN games behind the Phillies. Amazing.
Obviously, everyone should be enthralled by the team at this point. They’ve overcome adversity at every stage of the season, only to position themselves for a playoff run. A month ago, few believed a rebirth like this was possible, but here we are – witnessing an epic revival of a team gasping for air, hooked to a ventilator a mere 30 days prior.
With the good news of being just two behind the Braves comes more good news. Shane Victorino is about to begin a rehab assignment and could be back by Friday. Chase Utley has stated he should be back by months-end and has actually added three or four pounds of muscle since hitting the DL. Ryan Howard has been walking with a bit of a limp and still has swelling, but he too believes he can be back quickly. The makeshift roster will soon turn into a full collection of the talent that made back-to-back World Series appearances. Add them to a red-hot Raul Ibanez and Carlos Ruiz, a .300-hitting Jayson Werth, and a pitching staff that has more than held it’s own – both starters and relievers, and you’ve got yourself a contender.
So, pardon me if I’m a little thrown off by their 62-49 record, which is just one game off the pace of a year ago and a game better than their record in the World Series winning season of 2008. Perhaps I shouldn’t be so caught off-guard by what has occurred. This is a team that has scratched and clawed for three-plus seasons, I guess we shouldn’t have expected anything differently this time around.