You might have missed yesterday’s game between the Phillies and Blue Jays because you were out living life this Memorial Day weekend. What that life looked like was probably vastly different for many of you. Maybe you were sitting on the beach, lost in the haze of the relentless sun and those absolutely delightful spiked seltzer drinks that you secretly can’t get enough of. Perhaps you were sitting at a local winery in the sweltering heat as you dabbled in a variety of overpriced meats and cheeses at your significant other’s urging. It could of been that you spent the afternoon hours dodging scattered storms to cut your lawn, or clean your patio furniture. Maybe you spent it at your cousin’s gender reveal party wishing that you were instead strapped tightly on a rocket ship headed directly into the sun.
Whatever the reason, if you missed the Phillies’ 2-1 win, here are the four big takeaways:
1) Ben Simmons threw out the first pitch:
Ben Simmons tosses the first pitch in Philly ⚾️ pic.twitter.com/jQBD2hoPJp
— Def Pen Sports (@DefPenSports) May 26, 2018
He threw out the pitch with his right hand, which was upsetting to some:
What a beautifully thrown right-handed first pitch by Ben Simmons, who also writes with his right hand, eats with his right hand, throws full court heaves with his right hand, and 80% of the time lays the ball up and dunks with his right hand, but for some reason shoots lefty. https://t.co/tueLbQBFXu
— Kevin O'Connor (@KevinOConnorNBA) May 26, 2018
2) Aaron Nola didn’t allow a hit until there were two outs in seventh inning because of sorcery such as this:
— MLB (@MLB) May 27, 2018
3) Nick Williams is the best pinch hitter in the entire 149-year history of Major League Baseball:
NICK WILLIAMS IS AT IT AGAIN!
He hits his 3rd pinch hit homer of the season to make it 2-1 Phillies! pic.twitter.com/u8KTYnRU7Z
— NBC Sports Philadelphia (@NBCSPhilly) May 26, 2018
4) After a month of failed attempts to overtake the Braves, the Phillies are finally in first place in the National League East:
There's a new team in 1st in the NL East. pic.twitter.com/nUZf2U2zMb
— FOX Sports: MLB (@MLBONFOX) May 26, 2018
Looks good on them, doesn’t it? It is the first time they have been alone a top the division this late in the season since 2011, and as the manager might say, his team is presenting beautifully right now. As for me, well, if you’ve been reading the site at all this season, you know exactly what I am right now.
While it’s a strong feeling to wake up this morning with the Phillies in first, I’m also always looking ahead. Now that they have arrived at the top, will they be able to stay there?
Seeing is believing, and there are reasons to begin feeling pretty damn good about what we are seeing. It doesn’t matter that the manager didn’t know how to, you know, manage for, like, the first seven games of the season. It’s seemingly irrelevant that the $20 million per year first baseman is hitting .200, Aaron Altherr is at .190, or that Rhys Hoskins has posted a .510 OPS over his last 15 games and has been a mess for over a month now. There have been key bullpen injuries, the closer role is a hot mess, and Scott Kingery has struggled to realize his potential in the early going. All of this has happened, none of it seems to matter. If the starting pitching can continue to replicate its early season success (which doesn’t feel like a stretch), then this may be sustainable. Tell me it isn’t. The only everyday regular playing beyond expectations is Odubel Herrera, who, by the way, is the balls. As for those aforementioned struggling players, I’d expect rebounds, at the very least, from Santana, Hoskins, and Kingery. In order to outlast the Braves and compete with the Nationals throughout the summer, they will need those rebounds.
Ultimately, we’re going to have a much better idea of where this club stands when they reach the 60-game mark. They are about to begin a very difficult stretch ater wrapping up with Toronto this afternoon. They will head west starting tomorrow for a four-game series with the Dodgers, followed by three-game sets with the Giants and Cubs. Get through that daunting 10-game road trip with these good vibes and high hopes intact, and I think the fans activate pennant chase mode when the Phillies return home on June 8. I am absolutely ready for it.