The Phillies entered tonight’s matchup with the Mets a mere one game back of the division leading Braves. The Phillies ended up losing a pitcher’s duel 1-0 as Cole Hamels and Johan Santana pitched gems and the Braves also won bringing the gap in the division to two games. But even at two games it is amazing that this Phillies game is that close considering what they have had to go with.
Tomorrow is the rubber match against the Mets in the three game series and it is fitting that this Phillies team is so close to the division lead and are playing the Mets this week because just one year ago the Mets were in the same boat that this Phillies team currently finds themselves in. The 2009 Mets were one injury after another. Jose Reyes, David Wright, Carlos Beltran, Carlos Delgado, John Maine and others all landed on the DL and because of it the Mets finished nowhere near the front of the pack in the NL East. It seemed as if that Mets team last year used their injuries as an excuse. I personally don’t know because I didn’t follow the team but it just looked as if they knew they had an excuse and were more than happy to use it as a reason to why they were so bad. This Phillies team however isn’t taking the cop out
The Phillies entered last night with Mike Sweeney at first base, Wilson Valdez at second, and Ben Francisco in right field. Domonic Brown came into pinch hit at one point as well. That’s four players that weren’t starters at the beginning of the season, three of which weren’t even on the team when the season started, one of which was in AA when the season started. The worst part about what you just read was as of late that lineup is pretty good all considering. If you have been following the Phillies lately you know that this team has had to deal with injuries after injuries. They have been able to piece a team together full of minor league free agent signings that most fans had no idea occurred.
This Phillies team has seen Carlos Ruiz, Ryan Howard, Chase Utley, Jimmy Rollins, Placido Polanco, Shane Victorino, Brad Lidge, Ryan Madsen, Joe Blanton, Jamie Moyer, Antonio Bastardo, and Brian Schneider all have spent time on the DL with Victorino, Howard, and Utley still waiting to come off. But even with all those guys lost they are still in the thick of things. It’s gotten to the point that Phillies fans have become immune to the injury bug that hasn’t left this team since the season started.
You look at a team like the Mets who just folded and then you look at a team like the Phillies and you can clearly understand why the Mets have failed to make the playoffs since 2006 while the Phillies have enjoyed October baseball the past three seasons and are on their way to a fourth. As Phillies fans we have become used to being ahead of the pack in the NL East so the fact that they are in second place might seem as a failed season thus far. But when you realize just how much this team has had to overcome it becomes a different ballgame.
The most important thing to remember if you’re a Phillies fan is that these injuries might be a blessing in disguise. This team has continued to win while having their entire infield spend time on the DL but with Utley and Howard on the DL it looks as if the Phillies will finally have their full lineup come September 1st. A healthy well rested Phillies squad is something that no team wants to deal with. I just wouldn’t want to be the team that has to face this team when they finally do become 100% healthy.