The Phillies have the look of a team learning how to win.
The rotation is thriving, the bullpen is getting better each game despite missing its two highest-priced arms, and the offense is alternating between putting up crooked numbers and doing just enough.
Friday's 2-1 win over the Pirates involved all three of those early-season themes: strong starting pitching, a bullpen that did its job, and timely hitting (see first take).
The Phillies are now 5-1 in one-run games, the best mark in the National League and second best in all of baseball, behind only the can't-lose Red Sox.
"I think it is an indication that a young team is coming together, that a young team believes in themselves when the game's on the line," manager Gabe Kapler said of the one-run wins.
"We've talked a lot in the clubhouse and in the dugout about how important it is for good teams to win one-run games. A couple things we talk about: one-run games and having big innings. We've done both of those things this season."
They sure have. On top of leading the NL in one-run wins, the Phillies also have 10 different innings this season with at least four runs. Entering Friday night, the entire rest of the National League had 56, which averages out to four per team.
Success or failure in one-run games is volatile and unpredictable. Teams that thrive one season sputter the next and vice versa.
But catcher Andrew Knapp had an interesting take on the early success in one-run games. The way he sees it, these habits were developed by this Phillies' core in the minor leagues. Remember, Double A Reading dominated when this core was there, and then Triple A Lehigh Valley did the same once the wave of promotions began.
"This group has won a lot of those games, even in the minor leagues. Playing together, we know how to win in a tough spot and stay in a game late," Knapp said. "For us, this is kind of something we've always done, but now we're doing it at the big-league level."
Two other fun Phillies stats to come out of Friday night:
• They've opened the season 7-1 at home for the first time since 1981.
• They've allowed one or no runs seven times now in just 19 games. Last season, it took exactly 80 games for them do it seven times.