CSN Philly - Aside from the pitching, Ryne Sandberg’s first big-league managerial win was far from a masterpiece Sunday afternoon. The Phillies eked out a 3-2 win over the Los Angeles Dodgers at Citizens Bank Park.
They scored the tying and winning runs not on gappers but on ground balls to the infield. Hey, when you’re going as badly as these Phillies, you’ll take anything. Especially after the club was shut out in your first two games at the helm.
“Well, I achieved a couple of firsts personally,” Sandberg joked after the game. “I got my first run.”
“It’s nice to get a win in general,” Darin Ruf said.
The Phillies have won just six games and lost 21 – and one manager – since the all-star break. Sandberg, named interim skipper after Charlie Manuel was sacked on Friday, has 39 more games to convince Ruben Amaro Jr. and Dave Montgomery that he should be named full-time manager for 2014.
Sandberg’s chances are riding on a team that is banged up, beaten down and not very good. Since the break, the Phils are hitting .216 as a team with a .272 on-base percentage. Both rank last in the majors over the span. They have averaged just 3.26 runs per game since the break, 28th in the majors.
Amaro and Montgomery will use more than wins and losses to make their decision. Raising the pulse of this comatose team and adding a little urgency to the nine innings will help. Nurturing the young players will matter, too. But wins and losses will count for something. Given that, Sandberg was asked whether he believed it was fair to judge him and his candidacy on a team that is flawed in some areas and not ready for prime time in others.
“Well, it’s about competing,” he said. “It’s about improvement. It’s about good play, and wins are certainly something we’ll shoot for.”
Sunday’s win came against a Dodgers team that is on a historic run. The Dodgers entered the game with 10 straight wins and had won 42 of their previous 50. The last team to do that was the 1942 Cardinals. “This was a game against a very good team, a hot team, that we’ll take right now and hopefully build from,” Sandberg said. “Hopefully it will give us some momentum.”
Momentum has been hard to come by for this club. The Phils have not won consecutive games in over a month. The pitching was very good Sunday. Cole Hamels went seven strong and allowed just two runs. B.J. Rosenberg and Jonathan Papelbon each pitched a scoreless inning after Hamels left.
The Phils trailed 2-0 early but rallied back. Ruf homered (No. 8 in 35 games) in the fourth to snap the Phils' 21-inning scoreless streak. Cody Asche hustled out a potential inning-ending double-play ball to push home the tying run in the sixth. The Phils won it with one out in the ninth when Dodgers’ shortstop Hanley Ramirez booted a potential double-play ball from pinch-hitter Michael Young. The bases were loaded at the time. Young, who was pinch-hitting, was credited with an RBI. Ramirez made two errors in the inning. The first allowed the eventual winning run to reach base.
Since the start of July, Hamels has allowed just 15 earned runs in 66 innings over nine starts for an ERA of 2.04. He is not mailing in the rest of the season.
“Trying to start over, turn the page and get a new season underway, I guess is what we’ve been trying to do that past couple of days,” Hamels said. “It starts with getting a win, especially a walkoff win, against such a good team like the Dodgers. It gives us a place to start from and try to finish strong.
“The games are going to continue and if you’re going to be part of it you have to put yourself out there and play. We have to push each other and expect better results and play for something. The situation where we are, we’re not going to be happy because of the way the season transpired, but we need to finish on a positive note so we have something to work toward and know what we can expect from each other when we see each other next spring.”
No one knows who’ll be the manager then. Ryne Sandberg’s candidacy moved in the right direction Sunday.
- Jim Salisbury, CSN Philly