Last night, the Phillies completed a sweep of the Washington Nationals. In pre-season narratives, that’s Goliath going down to whomever David got traded for last season. It’s early, but embarrassing for the Nationals. And the Washington Post was forced to admit that the Phillies might not be total garbage. Look at this headline they had to write:
Shit, they might have even gone a bit too far there. I’m excited about these Phils, but it all depends on what you mean by “soon.” Here’s Barry Svrluga, whose last name is what happens when the alphabet burps:
First base was open. Struggling Ryan Zimmerman waited behind Harper. But the message from Phillies Manager Pete Mackanin to Nola, the 22-year-old right-hander: Go after the MVP.
“I want to give our pitchers credit to get good hitters out,” Mackanin said. “That, to me, is an indication that I have a lot of confidence in Nola to make good pitches.”
So Nola came with a sinker, and Harper ripped at it. The result, in that moment: a sharp grounder to second that killed any sort of rally in what became a 3-0 Phillies’ victory. The result, from a wide angle: The Phillies may not have expectations this weekend or next month, or into September. But even if Roy Halladay and Cliff Lee and Cole Hamels aren’t walking through that door, there are reasons for Philadelphia to harbor a commodity usually in short supply in that city: optimism.
Okay I’m in. This sweep might be a one-off this year – I still back my three games under .500 prediction – but sweeping a much better rival is always fun. Svrluga credits that to the Phils’ young pitchers:
Perhaps sooner than expected, the Phillies are seeing bits of that foundation. In a three-game sweep of the Nationals in Washington, Philadelphia’s starters — Vincent Velasquez, Jeremy Hellickson and Nola — tossed 20 innings, allowed nine hits, three runs, seven walks and struck out 19 batters. Again, the narrow view is that the Phillies have tossed aside an 0-4 start to impressively claw their way to 12-10. The wide view: Think about these guys in a few years.
“A lot of guys write us off, saying we don’t want to win,” Rupp said. “That’s not true. We come out here, we have fun. We’ve won close games. … We’re surprising a lot of people already. We’re going to continue to do it.”
They aren’t going to win anything this year. There’s no doubting that. But before Ruben used his farewell tour to actually stock the team with some young talent, Pat Gillick estimated the Phils would be bad until 2018. We’re starting to see that he may have overshot it by a year.