Who are these Phillies? I suppose they always had this in them, but seriously is this some kind of Invasion of the Body Snatchers situation?
In case that intro didn't give it away, the Phillies won today, thrashing the Cubs 11-5. It wasn't as good as a no hitter, but to me it was a damn fine follow-up. Good pitching! Crack defensive plays! Doubles! Triples! Home runs! Eight total extra base hits and a hit from every starter! This game had it all.
So who had a good day?
- Aaron Nola. Making his second major league start, he surpassed his innings total and was incredibly efficient. Well, until a certain point. He threw 7 1/3 innings of 3-hit ball until Jonathan Herrera singled. And then Addison Russell homered, which was just unfortunate. Despite his low pitch count, he probably shouldn't have started the eighth, but I loved that Pete Mackanin let him try. At this point, what could it hurt? Even with the unpleasant ending, Nola's second start was even better than his first, and he got his first major league win AND his first RBI. (The RBI came on a single in the fourth inning. Nola also walked today. /swoon) Interesting note: Nola's home runs to Dexter Fowler and Addison Russell were both on the first pitch, as was his homer to Nate Karns last week, which is really something.
- Domonic Brown. He went 3-for-5 today and had a single, a double, and a triple. That's right, he was just a home run short of the cycle. Brown didn't hit that homer, so his HR total for the year remains at 0. But his batting average went up 17 points today -- just today! -- to .246. I know that's not much to celebrate about, but it's a huge thing for Domonic Brown, who, let's be honest here, has had a really shitty year all around.
- Odubel Herrera. Yesterday's hero (and future recipient of a special Cole Hamels thank you gift, I hope) had three hits today, including a triple. It's not hard to believe that he's feeling confident after yesterday's game-saving catches. He's playing with that special "I'M A GOD, COME AND GET IT" swagger that you can't fake.
- Ryan Howard. He hit a two-run home run today! And if you remember yesterday (and I'm sure you do -- I know I can't stop replaying every single marvelous glorious moment in my head), Howard hit one then, too. He's had a thoroughly crappy July, but his homer today brings him to 18 on the year. 18! I had no idea he'd hit that many!
- Maikel Franco. He had two hits today, but one was a highlight. Franco hit a two-run homer off Jason Hammel in the first inning, his first in the month of July. Better late than never! With his two hits yesterday, maybe he could possibly perhaps be heating up. Please?
Facing a huge deficit in the ninth inning, Joe Maddon had no interest in putting a real pitcher in there. So he sent out David Ross, who was the (hitless) catcher yesterday. Even when they're doing great, the 2015 Phillies can't help but remind us that they are, in fact, still the 2015 Phillies. But that wasn't the end of David Ross's day. He hit in the pitcher's spot (since he was, in fact, the pitcher) and smacked a home run off of Hector Neris (who is apparently still on the Phillies) in the bottom of the ninth. Every single thing about David Ross's day is marvelous and majestic.
Sadly, the homer in the ninth inning wasn't enough to win the game, and the Phillies swept the Cubs. This is the first time the Phillies have swept the Cubs at Wrigley Field since 2009. That's a long time. But not as long as the Cubs' dead no-hit streak! BOOM.
The Phillies are 8-1 since the All-Star break. According to the radio broadcast, they haven't had such a good post-break start since 1970, 45 years ago. This isn't going to last forever, but holy crap has it ever been fun. I needed this. I needed to know that the 2015 Phillies were capable of this. When everyone is at their best, they can do magnificent things.