The Phillies played well last night thanks to 6 strong innings from J.A. Happ, a grand slam from Pedro Feliz and Ryan Madson locking down both the 8th and 9th inning for his 10th save of the season. With the Phils win and a Braves loss, the Magic # is at 1 - a number that has finally allowed some people in Philly to relax and look forward to October.
Sitting in Citizen's Bank Park two nights ago was down right depressing. The team seemed slow and disengaged and the fans were certainly agitated and dissapointed - for the first time in probably 2 complete seasons I heard many EAGLES chants in the background throughout the stadium. Finally (only about 11 months later), I heard Phillies fans booing poor play from their newly beloved World Champions. This lack of a voiced opinion of dissapointment (which is a staple of us Philly fans) towards the team is something that Jayson Werth has noticed during this season. In a recent ESPN article by Jerry Crasnick, Werth was quoted saying, "I don't want to say (the Phillies fans) have gone soft after winning it, because I don't think they have. But they might have to be reminded. I don't want them to change. I want them to stay hungry and be the same fans who helped us win it last year." This "reminder" Werth spoke about seemed to come two nights ago in a seemingly hopeless loss to the Astros. These anxious fans were pissed about another poor performance. The Magic # remained at 3 with the red-hot Braves appearing to be on an unbeatable pace. People exited the stadium, and surely their couches across the Greater-Philadelphia area, wondering why this team could not win just a few more games and get some needed rest before the playoffs!
This mood certainly seemed to change about an hour before the game last night. With news that Charlie Manuel had held a meeting to discuss the team's play, fans and Phillies players seemed to all know that tonight would be a good night for the Phillies. A few hours later, the Phillies were back to their patented style of play, hitting home runs while playing excellent defense. Secondly, the Phils received a bit of luck from the Marlins, since they were able to beat the Braves and lower the Magic # by an additional game. Once again, Phillies fans are excited and looking forward to another NL East banner. It is crazy what one game can bring.
Fast forward to tonight's game. Pedro Martinez will take the mound and try to will his team to one more win. I find it fitting that we are allowing a once despised player from last year's Mets team to attempt to clinch the division for us this year. Just imagine how Pedro must feel to be on the Phillies right now and pitching in tonight's game. In the last 2 years, Pedro was a member of a team that had arguably the worst collapse in baseball history in 2007 followed by another late September collapse the following season. Not to mention, Pedro ended up on the Phillies this year, instead of the Mets, because the Metropolitans believed they did not need him! Pedro has proved a lot since joining the Phillies - not only to the Mets, but to all baseball fans. Tonight's game will be seen as a playoff game to Charlie Manuel, the one person left for Pedro to prove he has the stuff for a starting playoff spot. With this in mind, we'll see if Pedro can make tonight feel like October.