Down and Certainly Not Out — Not Anymore

The Phillies tried desperately to give the New York Mets a victory yesterday, squandering a 5-0 lead, and then an 8-5 lead. The Mets — Billy Wagner, specifically — wouldn’t hear of it and promptly forked over 3 runs in the bottom of the eighth and nine innings after taking a 10-8 lead, to lose in dramatic fashion.

The Phillies hit ‘em hard (two homeruns from Pat Burrell, a Ruthian two-run homerun from Ryan Howard, and a solo homerun from Aaron Rowand) and they hit ‘em soft (bloop RBI singles from Carlos Ruiz and Shane Victorino, and a slow-rolling RBI single up the middle from Jimmy Rollins).

The most impressive feat of the series, though, was not the offense (outscoring the Mets 27-16 in the four-game series) — it was the bullpen (sans Thursday):

August 27: 2.2 IP, 0 R, 2 H, 0 BB, 3 K
August 28: 4.1 IP, 0 R, 1 H, 2 BB, 4 K
August 29: 3 IP, 0 R, 2 H, 2 BB, 1 K

Total: 10 IP, 0 R, 5 H, 4 BB, 8 K

And then the ugly August 30 day game: 5.1 IP, 7 R, 5 H, 6 BB, 0 K

The Mets’ bullpen, on the other hand… not so fortunate:

August 27: 3.1 IP, 4 R, 8 H, 2 BB, 2 K
August 28: 2 IP, 4 R, 5 H, 2 BB, 0 K
August 29: 2 IP, 0 R, 1 H, 0 BB, 1 K
August 30: 5.1 IP, 6 R, 11 H, 4 BB, 5 K

Total: 12.2 IP, 14 R, 25 H, 8 BB, 8 K

Kudos to Pat Burrell for continuing his hot streak. Burrell leads the Major Leagues in on-base percentage and slugging percentage since the All-Star break. He put up a 1.486 OPS in the four games against the Mets, hitting 4 HR and knocking in 7 runs.

Jimmy Rollins put up a 1.342 OPS for the series, hitting 2 HR and knocking in 3 runs.

How about Jayson Werth? 1.278 OPS for the series, and his 2 stolen bases in the 9th inning against Billy Wagner allowed Tadahito Iguchi to knock in the 10th and tying run with a marginally-deep sacrifice fly, or any base hit.

An interesting note about the series: each game was unique. The 27th was a mild blowout, the 28th was a come-from-behind win, the 29th ended on an umpire’s judgment, and the 30th was a mild blowout that turned into a come-from-behind win. Anyone who bought tickets to any of those four games definitely got their money’s worth (especially those who sat in Section 302).

And the Phillies did all this without Cole Hamels starting a game. With Utley missing the third game against Mets starter Oliver Perez. With Shane Victorino playing sparingly. With a makeshift starting rotation. With all the pressure the city of Philadelphia could throw on top of them. Four straight wins against the division leader, where even a series split would have been devastating to the Phillies’ playoff hopes.

Baseball Prospectus now lists the Phillies’ odds of making the postseason at 39% (the Wild Card-leading Padres are at 62%, and the East-leading Mets are at 85%). The Mets are playing two games better than their Pythagorean W-L record, and the Phillies are exactly where the PWL calculates them, which says that the Phillies are on par with the Mets, and a division title is not out of the realm of possibility.

So, now we look on with our newfound playoff hopes.

August 31-September 2, Phillies @ Florida Marlins

Kyle Kendrick (116 ERA+) vs. Sergio Mitre (98 ERA+)

J.D. Durbin (111 ERA+) vs. Byung-Hyun Kim (95 ERA+)

Adam Eaton* (72 ERA+) vs. Scott Olsen (75 ERA+)

This is a sweep-able series. The Mets go to Atlanta to face the Braves, and they have to face both Tim Hudson and John Smoltz. Even better — on Saturday, the Mets will trot out Mike Pelfrey to the bump.

So, by Monday, the Phillies could find themselves in first place in the NL East.

It’s about time the Phillies start getting some respect.

* Cole Hamels was supposed to start in the series finale against Scott Olsen, but, according to Todd Zolecki of the Philadelphia Inquirer:

Phillies pitcher Cole Hamels has suffered a setback and will not start Sunday against the Florida Marlins at Dolphins Stadium.

The Phillies said Hamels had discomfort in his left elbow in his last bullpen session. They will shut him down from throwing for the next few days and progress him accordingly.

Hamels went on the disabled list August 22 with a mild elbow strain. He has not pitched since August 16 at Washington.

Adam Eaton will start Sunday in Hamels’ place.

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