On the morning of July 22, the Phillies woke up and found themselves at 48-46, seven games behind the first place Atlanta Braves. Things looked like they were slipping away. Since the All Star Break they had gone just 1-6: 1-3 vs Chicago and 0-3 in first 3 games vs St. Louis. And five of the six losses were ugly. If they had another bad week, they might have even been sellers instead of buyers at the trade deadline, possibly dealing Jayson Werth.
Cole Hamels, back in top form, stopped the bleeding by twirling a one-hit shutout for eight innings, in a game the Phils eventually won 2-0 in extra innings. The Phils proceeded to reel off seven more consecutive wins in the next seven days, sweeping Colorado and Arizona in the process. They ended that week only 2.5 games behind Atlanta and then capped off the week by making a great trade to get Roy Oswalt, in a negotiation between Ruben Amaro and Ed Wade that seemed to have gone like this.
And since July 22, they have gone 38-15. That's .716 baseball and would translate to about 115 wins if they won at that rate for a full season. In the last 60 years, the Phils have only had three other similar stretches in a season. And they were mostly terrible between 1915 and 1950, so I didn't bother to look at any of those years. In 1976 and 1977 they won 101 games each season and had a 50+ game streak in each season where they won at a similar or better rate. And in 1993, they opened the season 37-16 in their first 53 games. Of course nothing can really match the shorter 23-6 (.793) run they ended the 2008 season with, including post-season, since that resulted in one of their two championships.
The point is we have been in the middle of one of the best stretches in franchise history over the last 2 months. That's pretty amazing considering their injury problems, many bad outings by Kendrick, and a 4-game sweep at home to the lowly Astros.
Just three weeks since they were swept by Houston, they are 3 games up with 15 to play.
Now, the goal is to be four or more games up when they go to Atlanta to face Bobby "Cocks" and the Braves for the final series of the season, so they can set the rotation for the post-season. Being able to clinch before that final series vs. Atlanta seemed impossible on July 22, and very unlikely just 3 weeks ago, but now they just have to win 1 more game than Atlanta over the next 12 games. That should be a piece of cake compared to what they've done the last 2 months.
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