In the here and now, the Phillies needed the series win they picked up Sunday with a come-from-behind 9-7 victory over the Giants. It's the first time they've won two straight games since April 26-27 and that can weigh on even the most positive of players.
Looking ahead, what they needed even more was the weekend they got from Odubel Herrera and Maikel Franco.
Herrera's game-tying RBI double in the seventh inning Sunday gave him five extra-base hits and six RBIs over the last two days. This mini-power-surge boosted his OPS by more than 60 points.
Franco delivered the game-winning homer for the Phillies in the eighth inning Sunday after scoring the go-ahead run Saturday.
Contributions from those two are what the Phillies need. They're not built to win if Herrera and Franco are hitting in the low-.200s. They're not built to win now even if both are hitting closer to their career norms, but they're at least a more respectable, competitive team.
"It's been very frustrating obviously for both of them as well as for myself and the team and the fans," manager Pete Mackanin said. "Everybody's been frustrated. But it was good to see those guys bust it open — Franco a couple hits yesterday and the big home run today to put us ahead. Hopefully, winning this series is what we needed for a spark and we'll take it to Atlanta."
Herrera maintained during his lengthy slump that he was seeing the ball well and taking good swings but that his timing and plate selection weren't there.
He's a happy-go-lucky guy and that's probably never going to change. You're not going to see Herrera moping around during a slump. He loves his profession and finds enjoyment out of it even when things aren't going well. In some ways, that's an admirable quality. It's not as if dwelling on mistakes helps a hitter break out of his slump anyway.
"I tried to be as patient as possible. When you go through a tough time, it is frustrating. And sometimes, you have to let that frustration out," Herrera said. "But you have to believe in yourself and I know what I'm supposed to do. I know what I have to do better. So you have to be patient and stay positive."
"I've always said he's unique, but he's human," Mackanin added. "It affects everybody differently. I think Odubel is the type of person that doesn't let it bother him. I know it frustrates him but he just continues to do his thing. It's almost like he knows he's going to hit and he's just waiting it out."
The Phillies waited it out during a brutal month of May in which they went 6-22. Things got even worse in their first game of June, a 10-0 loss to these Giants.
But over the last two days, they came up with timely, late hits, and on Sunday they avoided yet another demoralizing loss after Jeremy Hellickson and three Phillies relievers gave away all a three-run, sixth-inning lead.
"We feel pretty good right now," Franco said. "The last two games, we showed a lot of energy. We played the game the right way. That's what we have to continue to do every single day. … It feels really good. It's been a tough month for me, but I'm trying to just throw that away and think about the new day and try to do everything I can to do better."
Herrera (.234 BA) and Franco (.223) both still have a long, long way to go. But it's improbable if not impossible for either to perform worse over the final four months than they did the first two.
We keep hearing that the Phillies are a better offense, a better team than they've shown. Perhaps this weekend gave them the confidence that's actually true.
"I think it's pretty good, man," said Freddy Galvis, who became the first Phillie since Jimmy Rollins in 2011 to homer from both sides of the plate in a game. "The offense, we're putting stuff together right now."
Just in time for a nine-game road trip to begin. The first four games are in Atlanta against a Braves team the Phillies swept in April, a Braves team missing its superstar/MVP candidate, Freddie Freeman.
The Phils will spend the majority of this season 15 to 20 games under .500, but for now, their two most important position players are no longer trending in the wrong direction.