In a win that so resonated with the team that Jeff Francoeur began taking his clothes off, the Phillies have staved off the 100-loss demons and are simply the very normally bad team that gets to pick first in the following MLB draft.
One entire summer ago, we came to this blog and had thoughts that now shame us. The 2015 Phillies won six games in a row early on, and couldn't be touched just after the All-Star break. Unfortunately, as you consider some of this 63-99 team's hottest moments, those are basically the only two. Even Chase Utley was traded, subtracting obscene amounts from team hotness.
Strange, then, it was; that by the end of September, they suddenly couldn't lose. Right when losing would be a pretty direct way to improve the team quickly, the Phillies were just better than everyone. That's what happens when you play teams who have already clinched and are just shoving the first nine players to stop barfing champagne out there; or teams whose players would rather strangle each other than focus on a win.
Regardless, the Phillies entered today's game with all possible concerns erased: They would certainly be the league's worst team this season, keeping the No. 1 pick at the 2016 MLB draft out of Cincinnati's desperate grasps, and could beat up on the Marlins all they liked without risking anything.
So they did! It was great.
Aaron Altherr was particularly terrifying, knocking four runs in with a double and a bases-clearing triple on the day. David Buchanan also went 2-for-2 for some reason, singling in the third and again in the fifth. Buchanan managed to put together his best start in a while (6 H, 2 ER, 1 BB, 7 SO in 6.2 IP), which in no way should guarantee him a spot in the 2016 rotation.
Dee Gordon, who won the NL batting title today, fell a triple shy of the cycle, which should just be called a "good day at the plate." He feasted on the Phillies' offerings, making it 2-0 in the third with a homer after Justin Bour had scored in the first on a classic Jeff Francoeur double-dang-it mishap. He later attempted to cleanse his hexed body.
Jeff Francoeur threw glove and jersey to fans after game: "I dropped that ball in the first, so I thought, I don't need that glove."— Ryan Lawrence (@ryanlawrence21) October 4, 2015
Buchanan then locked it up, and thanks to Altherr's day, combined with RBI doubles from Andres Blanco and Darnell Sweeney, as well as a bases-loaded walk from Freddy Galvis, the Phillies were able to put seven runs on the board, something they so rarely appeared able to do throughout the season.
It has been a long year. Much has changed. Chase Utley and Jimmy Rollins wear blue now. Cole Hamels is taking the Rangers to the playoffs. Jonathan Papelbon is somewhere in the Washington area eating an apple off the tip of a pocket knife. But we are all still here, reading this game recap. I asked a Phillies beat writer why I was bothering to go to last night's game and what could I think I possibly could gain from it.
"These are questions I cannot answer," he replied.
We may ask ourselves those very questions in the years to come, but it seems likely that most of us can accept that transition is hard, time slows for no one, but maybe, just maybe, it's finally our turn to change.
A team's success has come to frequently be associated with a spirit animal of some kind: the San Diego Chicken. The Rally Monkey. The Cardinals' hideous, diseased Rally Squirrel, who committed suicide into Chase Utley earlier this season. In any case, as the Phillies rebuild continues - they've already let go two coaches - let us come to equate them with the creature sent to us by the heavens on this day to embody our coming baseball futures.
so we were at the phillies game and a bird dropped dead onto the field right in the middle of the game. rip bird— Alex Margolin (@alexfmargolin) October 4, 2015
Ken Giles: "Did it just have a heart attack and fall from the sky or... ? Reporter: "No, attacked by another hawk." KG: "That's awesome."— Ryan Lawrence (@ryanlawrence21) October 4, 2015