Joe Girardi has taken a lot of heat for some of his managerial moves this Phillies season. It goes with the territory. Managers always hear about the things that go wrong and seldom about the things that go right.
One of the things that has gone right for Girardi helped the Phillies pull off one of their biggest and most important wins of the season on Monday night.
Back on May 30, Girardi moved Andrew McCutchen out of the leadoff spot and into the No. 6 spot in the batting order. Girardi's goal was to ease some pressure on McCutchen, who had struggled early in the season, and perhaps get a few RBIs from the veteran outfielder by capitalizing on his ability to drive the ball.
Since June 1, McCutchen has hit anywhere from third to sixth in the Phillies' batting order, all prime RBI spots, and delivered in a big way. His three-run homer in the bottom of the ninth inning lifted the Phillies to a 6-5 win over the Washington Nationals at Citizens Bank Park on Monday night.
It was a huge win for the Phils as it pushed them to a game over .500 and 3½ games behind the first-place New York Mets in the NL East. The trade deadline arrives Friday.
The Phils were down 4-0 after four innings. Rhys Hoskins clubbed a three-run homer in the sixth and the bullpen kept them in the game. Jean Segura doubled to open the bottom of the ninth. Bryce Harper drew his third walk of the night with one out and McCutchen hit a first-pitch fastball from Brad Hand over the right-field wall to win it.
It was the eighth walk-off homer of McCutchen's career and first as a Phillie.
"No, never," he said when asked if the moment ever gets old. "Especially when it's your first and this is my first with the Phillies. It felt good in that moment. Harper had been walked multiple times and me having the opportunity to come through was very gratifying.
"We're a resilient club. We know what we're capable of and it doesn't matter what the score is or what inning it is. We never felt like we were out of this game. Jean did an amazing job leading off with a double, Bryce getting on base and I was able to put a good swing on it. It's great the way it ended.
Since June 1, McCutchen is hitting .285 with 11 homers and 34 RBIs in 44 games.
Girardi has gotten the RBIs he was looking for from McCutchen.
"Being dropped down helped me a little bit," McCutchen said. "I got some opportunities with runners in scoring position and I've been able to come through."
The 34-year-old outfielder, a free agent at season's end, is in an interesting position, hot enough to be an important bat for the Phillies down the stretch, but attractive enough to help another club if the front office decided to sell before Friday's trade deadline. At the moment, the Phillies are committed to adding talent -- most likely pitching -- and a win like Monday night's will probably keep them on that course so McCutchen isn't going anywhere.
"I'm not too focused on what we do or don't do. That's not my job," McCutchen said. "My job is to show up and play ball and try to win a game. We know we can win with what we have in that clubhouse. So if we do have any additions there, it's only going to make us better."