There were a lot of things happening at Citizens Bank Park on Saturday night that I'm not sure we can really explain.
First, the Phillies scored 12 runs against the Braves, one night after scoring nine against them.
Cameron Rupp hit a monstrous three-run bomb to dead center field, which included a miniature bat flip along the way.
Odubel Herrera hit a jack to the SECOND DECK of right field.
Freddy Galvis smoked his own no-doubt about it, three-run homer to right field as well.
Ryan Howard was intentionally walked.
And Pat Burrell did this tonight. With a purse.
Pat Burrell dressed like a Golden Girl and smacking that hot dog cannon ass https://t.co/mUpQnDkMJs— Treb (@treblaw) August 2, 2015
And with their 12-2 win over the Atlanta Braves on Saturday night, the Phillies improved to 12-2 since the All Star Break, the best record in baseball. During that span they've outscored their opponents, 78-43 (+35). Compare that to the first half of the season, when their run differential was a staggering -160.
Seriously, what is going on here? I mean, is this all because Ryne Sandberg's intense, un-fun, dictator-like style of managing has been replaced by Happy Pete Mackanin and his calligraphy-infused brand of merriment?
A lot asking about whether Sandberg quitting caused this. Remember they did really struggle afterwards to the All-Star Break— Kevin Cooney (@KevinCooney) August 2, 2015
That being said: Sandberg's intense attitude and poor communication skills now a stark contrast to Mackanin's more casual style— Kevin Cooney (@KevinCooney) August 2, 2015
Whatever voodoo magic Mac has employed over the last two weeks, it's working.
Every starter with the exception of Cody Asche had at least one hit in this game. The Phils' 1-6 hitters went a combined 13-for-28, with Cesar Hernandez going 2-for-5, Odubel Herrera 3-for-5, Maikel Franco 2-for-4, Domonic Brown 1-for-5 and Ryan Howard 3-for-4.
Hernandez is now slashing .280/.357/.358. Herrera is at .283/.312/.424. And Franco is batting .283/.341/.487. When your top three hitters are doing that, it gets pretty easy to score some runs.
Not only that, Howard has been red hot of late. One night after reaching base four times against the Braves, The Big Piece was on base four more times in five plate appearances.
Ryan Howard has more XBH this season than Abreu, Ortiz, Adam Jones, Braun, Pederson, Peralta, Brantley, Encarnacion, Cano, Prince Fielder— Corey Seidman (@CoreySeidmanCSN) August 2, 2015
Not to be lost among the bludgeoning issued by the offense was another competent start from new Phils' ace Aaron Nola, who struggled a bit in giving up two first inning runs. However, he recovered nicely and finished five innings with just those two runs given up, five hits, three strikeouts and no walks. Nola threw just 88 pitches in tonight's start, as the Phils are likely watching his pitch and innings count as the season goes on. His ERA through three starts is 3.38.
The bullpen, which has been magnificent since the All-Star Break, went the final four innings and gave up no runs on one hit, with Elvis Araujo, Hector Neris, and Dalier Hinojosa finishing things off.
With the win, the Phillies are no longer on pace to lose 100 games, and they are becoming dangerously close to climbing out of the basement in the National League East. At 42-62, the Marlins are now just 1 1/2 games ahead of the 41-64 Phils for the worst record in baseball and the number-one overall pick in next year's MLB Draft.
Of course, it would be great for the Phillies to lock up that number-one pick and the slot money that goes with it. However, it's also pretty rewarding to watch this team actually win baseball games.
I'm still not sure what Pat Burrell was wearing, though.