You can say that the Mariners aren’t a monstrous opponent. You could say that, had Edwin Diaz’s pitch tailed off and missed Tommy Joseph’s bat in the ninth, Joseph would have logged his 70th strikeout of the season and not his 13th home run. You could say that perhaps the Phillies were energized by the influx of grasshopper blood in their veins.
But the Phillies won two games in a row yesterday, thanks in part to Joseph's late game-tying blast and Andrew Knapp's timely single. It doesn’t mean the team is better, and it doesn’t mean they’re built. It just means that instead of losing, they won, which is in some circles is considered the superior option.
The Phillies themselves credited the win to Freddy Galvis’ on-the-record lamentations from the other day, the ones centered on the day-to-day grind of playing for a team that can’t stop bleeding runs, splintering stop signs, and swinging at too hard and too often. We’re not sure if the rant Galvis went on was an actual interview, or simply a fully warranted mental breakdown that happened to occur while recorders were rolling, but in any case, it served as yet another "enough is enough" moment in a season throughout which enough has been enough an exhausting number of times.
Here's Galvis, per Todd Zolecki:
"In Spring Training, if you told me we were going to have this record, I wouldn't believe it. I believed we had a good team. But we just can't put anything together. We played well for five or six games and then we go to another six or seven-game losing streak. Then we win one and keep going. It's hard. It's hard to see it. It's hard to believe it.
I mean, we're losing, we're losing, we're losing and I don't see any change so far. If you get used to it, we're [in trouble]. We're players. We have to play hard, 24-7. And that's it. Yeah, they say we're a rebuilding team, but we still have good players here. We still have pretty good players. We lose one, then we lose another one, and then it just keeps going and keeps going. We have to have a different mentality every time we come here. We have to try to win. We have to try to fight for nine innings and 27 outs.
For us, we have to have the same mentality every single day. Just try to win. It's not what you do here or in the clubhouse or what you talk, it's what you do outside. That's when you have to step up and do your best.
I think we can do better. I think we can do much better. The effort has to be more than we have right now if we want to win. The effort we have right now, we're not winning. I think we have to do a little bit more -- if we want to win."
For anyone looking for a glimpse into the mindset of a player on an endlessly crappy team, well; there you go. Freddy sounded trapped, running circles in his own brain as he filled the leadership role of "Guy Who Speaks to Media When What Else is There Even Left to Say." Whether a team is 24-51 and twenty games out of first place, or streaking to the finish line since May because the other four teams in their division are a series of bad punchlines, the goal is to win the ball game. It has to be, or what the hell else are you doing out there?
And that trickles down to us, the fans, who don’t have to go out there and sweat through nine innings of a, say, 10-2 loss, featuring repeated mistakes, rapid fire brain farts, and visible or invisible frustration. We can close the app and go do something else. We can take a vacation and forget about the Phillies for a week. But while we do that, they’re still out there, unable to switch from a demoralizing loss to Netflix because they’ve "had enough of this team."
That being said, it’s also hard on us to once more have the early season enthusiasm for this sport get gradually squashed and then search for motivation to continue to make it a part of our summer. At that point, there’s two choices: Tune out or zoom in. And the dissection of each loss - figuring out what went wrong exactly at which point, who is to blame, what are the coaches doing to fix it, what can we assume is happening behind closed doors in both the clubhouse and the front office - gets pretty monotonous and grotesque as well.
So, that leaves us with two wins in Seattle. When the Mariners came through Philadelphia for a pair of L’s in May, things had only been bad for one a half months, not almost three. But those two losses stick out in my brain because for one, they were against a team the Phillies never really play, and they were to a team that is typically never as good as they’re supposed to be. I can embody those losses into a single shaggy-haired form named Ben Gamel.
Gamel, off the top of my head, is a Mariners player whose position I can’t even name. Ah, he’s an outfielder. Of course. But Gamel, a 25-year-old somebody from Neptune Beach, Florida, had such a sting in his bat in mid-May that the Phillies were powerless to stop him for 48 hours.
...and here he is nailing Daniel Nava at the plate, tra la la la la https://t.co/t6SIeaopHt— Justin Klugh (@justin_klugh) June 28, 2017
This baseball stranger was easily handling the Phillies, and it served as a tent pole for the argument that this team was going to be epically, entirely, and seemingly unfixably, bad. Or that Gamel might be good. That is also a possibility.
Over the last two games in Seattle, Gamel went 1-for-8 with a double through Aaron Nola’s Tuesday night masterpiece and Mark Leiter, Jr.’s somehow-not-worse appearance on Wednesday afternoon. I mean, don’t worry about Gamel. He’s fine. But at least he wasn’t at his highest setting this time when the Phillies came through. That certainly helped the Phillies take both of these games, as did Andrew Knapp’s two hits yesterday, Galvis’ three hits on Tuesday, Nola’s gem, Maikel Franco’s more timely hitting, and Joaquin Benoit and Hector Neris not spotting the Mariners a couple of runs to begin their relief appearances.
Ty Kelly hit a home run, something he never does. The Phillies mounted a late rally, something they never do. And by sundown yesterday, they had outscored an opponent 13-6 in two games. Yay.
I don’t know how much stock you can put in Galvis’ words, other than they were exemplifying the irritation and dissatisfaction fermenting in the Phillies’ locker room. I’m sure they won’t be chiseled into Citizens Bank Park foundations at some point in the future. But his concluding line of "I think we have to do a little bit more -- if we want to win," was a nicer way to end his stream-of-consciousness rant than the "F*** this s***" these losses, and in some cases this team, deserve.
Because the Phillies do want to win. Fifty-one losses may suggest otherwise, and this season is way past forgettable, but they do take the field with the intention of getting the W. They don’t have the best players, and the future has more spectators in it than the present, but there’s still most of the schedule left to play, somehow. For two games this week, the Phillies did the "little bit more" they needed to to actually win a f****** game. Two, in fact.
They won’t be the turning point for a push to .500 and they won’t be a rallying cry to fans who have checked out, but one thing they also weren’t were losses. And in the barren sports wasteland of mid-summer, for a team destined to finish in last place, that’s about as close as you can get to "enough:" Two singular wins that happened to come right in a row.
[Yawn] Go Phils.
Hopefully somebody jarred up some of that grasshopper blood.