The Philadelphia Phillies finally figured out their key to success: The Colorado Rockies. Yesterday’s 5-1 win over the Rockies won the series for the Phillies, their first series win since June 19-21 over the same Colorado team. Sunday’s win also marked the first time since June 25-26 that the Phillies have won two games in a row. It was a solid start to the second half of the season, which continues tonight with a three-game road trip against the Los Angeles Dodgers.
Cole Hamels shined in his start on Sunday, allowing only 1 run on 6 hits and 1 walk with 7 strikeouts in 8 innings. Shane Victorino had a solid weekend, going 3-for-12 with 1 double, 2 triples and 4 runs scored. But how much longer these two players continue to perform like that in Phillies uniforms will be determined over the next couple weeks.
With Ryan Howard and Chase Utley back on the field – even though they were held out of the lineup on Sunday for precautionary reasons – and Roy Halladay set to return this week, the Phillies are likely to give the team as long as possible to show signs of life before making the final decision to become sellers at the trade deadline.
Four series remain before the July 31 deadline – three in LA, three versus the San Francisco Giants at home, three versus the Milwaukee Brewers at home and three versus the Atlanta Braves in Atlanta. It’s not going to be an easy road, obviously. These four teams have combined for a .530 winning percentage (188-167). Only the Brewers, at 42-46, have a losing record.
But this is exactly what the Phillies need – a challenge to see whether they are truly up to the task of coming all the way back from a terrible first half to make the postseason. Simply doing well enough over the next few weeks won’t be good enough. If the Phillies decide to hold onto Hamels, Victorino and others past the deadline, it will be postseason or bust.
Heading into tonight’s games, the Phillies are 14 games out of first place in the National League East and 11 games out of a Wild Card spot. There’s a lot of work to do. Can they do it?
The pitching matchups for the Dodgers series are Joe Blanton vs. Nate Eovaldi, Roy Halladay vs. a yet-to-be-named starter, and Cliff Lee vs. Clayton Kershaw.