COMMENTARY | For almost two full games against the Cincinnati Reds this weekend, the Philadelphia Phillies offense looked absolutely pathetic. Going into the ninth inning on Sunday afternoon against one of baseball's best closers, flame-throwing Aroldis Chapman, the Phils had that stick-a-fork-in-them look, so very done.
That metaphor isn't just for the weekend. It speaks very much to Philadelphia's 2013 season to date.
It has seemed so inevitable that at some point this team will be stripped of many of its most crucial elements during the 2007-11 period of success unmatched in club history. It's no secret they build for the future and soon. The Phillies have been so lackluster so often this year, many pundits take it for granted that will happen sooner than later.
Then Erik Kratz and Freddy Galvis, two players who strike little fear among any opponent at this stage of their careers, suddenly slugged back-to-back homers to lift the Phillies to an improbable 2-1 victory. Just as suddenly, some excitement was infused into what has been nothing short of a comatose season.
Why is that? The 2013 Phillies haven't taken any modicum of momentum and run with it to this point. At the end of April, they went into New York and swept the Mets, only to go into Cleveland and lose two games by a 20-2 count. Then they won four of seven on the road against San Francisco and Arizona, only to come home perched to lose three of five in their own park.
That is until Kratz and Galvis came to the rescue. It's hard to even write that - Kratz and Galvis came to the rescue? Will it take something that unlikely to start this team on a roll? At this writing, the Phillies go into Miami for three games, then to Washington for three over the weekend. It's time to make a charge.
How can such optimism possibly be warranted? If the Phillies revert to this season's form thus far, they'll drop four of six on this trip and talk radio shows will be calling for Charlie Manuel's ouster and looking to trade any player another team would be willing to take. On top of that, first baseman Ryan Howard and catcher Carlos Ruiz underwent MRIs on leg injuries on Monday. Those test results weren't available at this writing. But if they're sidelined for any length of time, it could make for some interesting lineups going forward.
Yet, there is some optimism there. It's hard to give it up. Maybe it's the past success, maybe it's just plain fool's hope. No matter how you cut it, the Phillies are still in the hunt in the National League East and haven't played well at all to this point. Maybe that's all that matters.
You just never know.
Ted Williams lives in Emmaus, PA and is a lifetime Phillies follower. He spent 20 years in print journalism, winning state and national awards. He covered the 1980 World Series, the first championship in Phillies history.
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