In a 162 game season, not every single game matters as far as records go, however, a loss on any given night may totally smash a team’s confidence, sending them on a losing spiral, possibly not recovering for weeks. With their first series loss in more than a month, it seemed very possible that the Phillies, a team known for being streaky in the past (looking especially at last year’s roller coaster of a season) could just suddenly stop their winning ways. However, with Hunter Pence now in the lineup, and a near record crowd on hand to watch the rubber match between the Phillies and Pirates, the four-time NL East champs assured everyone that they weren’t going anywhere.
The Phillies scored early with the help of a solo home run from Raul Ibanez in the 2nd, putting the Phillies on top and giving an early cushion to rookie Vance Worley. Worley would be grateful, holding the Pirates scoreless until the 5th inning, where he ran into some problems giving up the lead on a two RBI single.
The Phillies would tie the game back up later that inning, but Worley would falter once again, this time allowing a Lyle Overbay home run. His night would be over after the 6th, giving up four runs and seven hits in an unusually weak start. He did however strike out seven Pirates, so the night was not totally lost for him. Brad Lidge would replace him in the 7th, allowing the first run of his season, and putting the Phillies in a deeper hole, now 5-3
The Phillies were resistant though, coming back on an 8th inning home run from Raul Ibanez, his second of the game and 16th of the year, scoring Hunter Pence and tying the game. However, Pence and Ibanez would strike again in extras, hitting back to back doubles and sealing victory for the Phillies.
It’s funny how after all Phillies fans complained about the team’s corner outfielders, they were in fact who is to blame for today’s win. Of course, the addition of Hunter Pence certainly helped, Raul Ibanez played an even larger role, and he has probably been the most criticized Phillie this year. However, with a little momentum and some adrenaline , Ibanez has proved multiple times now that anything can happen, and now for the third game in a row, the Phillies have hit really well, scoring at least six runs in each match-up with the Pirates.
So yes, maybe it’s possible for any team to be destroyed by one game or one series, but it seems that with this Phillies team the confidence is there, and their composure simply won’t be broken. Maybe its the clubhouse chemistry, a ridiculous amount of confidence, or just the knowledge that this team has the talent to win, but whatever it is, this Phillies team seems like, and is certainly playing like, a championship team.