Sunday June 16th was a terrible day for the Philadelphia Phillies. A tough series against the Atlanta Braves ended in miserable fashion. They would lose the series in the finale by a score of 15-1. It would start a season-worst 7-game skid. Sweeps at the hands of the Nationals and Marlins put the Phillies at just 1 game over .500.
That date is significant for another reason.
It was the last time the Phillies were 7 games over .500…until Tuesday. The Phillies won their 3rd game in a row, beating the Reds 6-2. Now, you might ask, “What’s so important about 7 games over .500. They’re still 2.5 games behind the Cubs”.
The importance of the win is because the Phillies had so many chances to get back to this point. They seemingly couldn’t cross that line. Since July 25th, the Phillies have had 11 opportunities to get back to 7 games over .500. Many of them were not pretty….so let’s go through every one of them!
Stuck at Six
The Phillies first opportunity came on the aforementioned July 25th. The Phillies were coming off a successful 4-1 road trip against the Pirates and Tigers. Things seemed to be looking up as the Phillies flew back home to face the Braves. They lost 2/3 and the chance at being 7 games over .500.
After the Phillies salvaged their last game, they won against the Giants behind a quality Drew Smyly performance. This gave them another chance at magic number 7. They’d face Jeff Samardzija in game 2. He has a 9 ERA in Citizens Bank Park, but yet he stymied the Phillies offense.
The Phillies would win the finale yet again to get back to 6 games over. They lost the first game of the White Sox series. They won game 2, meaning 6 games over, again. Then they lost the series, avoiding the mysterious 7.
They would win the 1st game in Arizona to get back to 6 and promptly lose 3 straight to end this cycle of madness.
But, of course, the cycle recycled itself after the Phillies swept the Cubbies and won the first game against the Padres at home. Hello 6 games back, we missed you. The Phillies somehow beat the Padres best starter and fail against their mediocre ones.
NOW SOME RAPID FIRE FAILURES
Phillies win in Boston for the first time this millennium and proceed to blow a 7 run lead to the Marlins.
Phillies beat Marlins to get to 6 and promptly waste a Nola start against said fish.
Phillies walk off the Pirates in game 1 and Rhys Hoskins forgets how to field in game 2.
Phillies beat up the Pirates to get to 6. Phillies come home to face a Mets team on a 6-game losing streak. That streak ends.
Seven Feeling like heaven
A strong bullpen performance highlighted the Phillies getting back to seven over .500 on Tuesday. Bryce Harper became the first Phillie with 30 homers and 100 RBI since Ryan Howard in 2011. Scott Kingery homered to continue his hot September.
As I noted on Tuesday, most of the Phillies lineup is hot and has been since mid-August.
The Phillies have now won their first 3 games of September. They might just be getting hot at the right time. If they can get to 7 games over .500, they can do anything.
Now they must face their second Rubicon.
The rare 5-game win streak.
Mandatory Credit: David Kohl-USA TODAY Sports