The Phillies had waited since early May to have their lineup healthy and on the field together as one unit.
It has happened over the last four games and the Phils have won three of them, two against a powerful San Diego club that has World Series aspirations, one against a once-mighty Chicago Cubs club that has lost 10 in a row.
The Phils put up 13 runs against the Cubs on Monday night and to plump up their average to 5.5 over this four-game span. They’ve hit nine homers in those four games. Sure, two came against an infielder Monday night but one of those was by Alec Bohm, who hadn’t homered since May 6, so you’ll take it as a possible igniter.
This little streak that the Phils are on started Friday night when Didi Gregorius returned to the lineup after missing almost two months with an elbow injury, and it’s coincided with streaky Rhys Hoskins warming to the tune of four extra-base hits (two doubles, two homers) in the last three games.
J.T. Realmuto, Bryce Harper and Jean Segura all missed significant time earlier in the season. Now, the band is back together for a crucial stretch of the schedule that will take the Phillies into the All-Star break. The Phils are two games under .500 and 4½ games behind the first-place Mets in the NL East. Three more in Wrigley Field followed by three in Fenway Park before the break.
It’s go time for this team — if it’s going to go anywhere.
“We’ve kind of been waiting for everyone to get healthy,” Hoskins said. “I think you can see the depth and the length of the lineup. I’m hitting a little further down. Didi is hitting fifth. The guy (Bohm) who was third in the Rookie of the Year (in 2020) is hitting eighth. So, there’s just length and that wears on opposing pitchers. Each one of us has the ability to pop you, too, so that adds a little bit of fear, too.
“With the design of the lineup, there’s the ability where someone new gets to be the guy every night. Obviously, we rely on our horses, but that’s what a deep lineup gives you.
“We know the struggles we’ve had on the road. The length of the lineup gives us a little extra confidence that things will turn around on the road, too.”
The Phillies are 16-26 on the road.
“It’s time,” Hoskins said. “We've got to start winning series and getting on a roll.”
It is time. Not only have the Phils passed the mathematical halfway point of the season, but the trade deadline arrives at the end of the month.
Don’t expect this Phillies front office to go on a wild shopping spree. There’s not enough chips in a thin farm system to go crazy and this team isn't one piece away from a significant October run.
But if the Phillies stay close these next couple weeks, a marginal upgrade or two, probably on the pitching side, seems plausible.
If the Phils flop over the remaining six games of this trip and the first week after the break, management could raise the white flag and sell off veterans.
The players in the clubhouse know the score.
“We’ve had some ugly losses but we tend to bounce back,” Hoskins said. “I think it starts with this week. There’s a couple of weeks before the deadline. We know where we stand. We know the Mets are 4½ up and there are a couple of teams between us. But there’s been crazier things that have happened in baseball. That’s a good week.
“We’re trying to win and be in the best position possible come the All-Star break and the deadline and September 1. We’ve got to put pressure on the front office. That's our job as players — see if we can get on a run and make them make tough decisions. That’s all we can do.
“We’re halfway through the season. The length of the season is not something we can rely on. Eighty games is a lot, but we know how the second half of a season can go. If you get on a run, things tend to keep going your way, but it also can go the opposite way. So, we need to tighten the screws a little bit, try to get on a run here and see where we end up.”
The Phils will look to keep the offense clicking Tuesday night against former teammate Jake Arrieta, who is back with the Cubs after three lackluster seasons in Philadelphia.
Arrieta has a 5.57 ERA. He pitched to an 8.31 ERA in six starts in June. Aaron Nola will start for the Phillies.