MILWAUKEE – You can’t help but look at the Phillies these last few days and wonder if it’s the same club that looked so lifeless, so beaten, so hopeless just a week or so ago.
Fueled by four home runs and the brilliance of Aaron Nola, the reborn Phils continued their June revival with a 10-0 road win over the Milwaukee Brewers on Wednesday night.
It was the Phils’ season-best sixth win in a row. Five of them have come under the leadership of new manager Rob Thomson, who is unbeaten since taking over for Joe Girardi on Friday.
The Phils were seven games under .500 when Girardi was fired. They are now two games under .500, scoring lots of runs, hitting for power, and playing a cleaner brand of baseball. Not spotless. But cleaner.
What's happened here?
Did Girardi’s firing simply wake this team up?
“You know, it’s hard to say,” said Kyle Schwarber, who has swung a hot bat during the winning streak. “Obviously, Joe’s not here because we didn’t win, we weren’t winning. So, obviously, there’s that reality right in the middle of your face, that we’ve got to be better, we’ve got to find a way to win games.
“And so, you can say it, or you don’t have to say, I think it was just reality staring us in the face and it’s on us to change that and I feel like we’ve been doing a really good job of not letting anything kind of negative affect us. We’re coming in with a positive mindset every day and we’re having fun.”
During the six-game winning streak, the Phils have hit 15 home runs and outscored opponents, 45-16.
That equals fun.
“It’s easy when things are going good,” said Schwarber, who has nine hits, six for extra bases, six RBIs and seven runs scored in the last six games, all as the leadoff man.
Schwarber and Bryson Stott combined for eight hits in Wednesday night’s win.
Stott had one of the team’s four homers, a two-run shot in the third. He has three homers in the last five games.
The rookie infielder’s confidence has grown just like the team’s confidence has grown over the last week.
“Everything is kind of clicking right now,” Stott said. “The bats are alive and our starters have been unbelievable. Nola. Who doesn’t want to play defense behind him? We’re having a lot of fun, that’s the biggest thing. I think we were kind of, not mad all the time, but it was a little different. It’s been tons of fun and everyone is smiling. It’s been fun.”
Zack Eflin will be on the mound Thursday afternoon as the Phils go for a sweep against the NL Central-leading Brewers. That’s an accomplishment that would have seemed far fetched for this team a week ago.
The Phils have basically used one script – power and good starting pitching -- in winning the first two games of the series. Ranger Suarez pitched seven innings of two-run ball and Alec Bohm and Matt Vierling clubbed ninth-inning home runs in Tuesday night’s dramatic 3-2 win.
Twenty-four hours later, Nola pitched eight shutout innings and was supported by plenty of power. Stott and Rhys Hoskins both hit two-run shots against Adrian Houser in the third. Odubel Herrera delivered a solo blow in the fifth and Bryce Harper capped it off with a three-run shot in the ninth.
Nola scattered four hits, walked none and struck out six. He is 5-1 with a 2.28 ERA in 10 career starts against the Brewers.
“Nola was fantastic,” Thomson said.
Over the last week, the entire team has been fantastic.
The new skipper is pleased. Why not? He's 5-0.
“These guys are playing well in all phases and that breeds confidence,” Thomson said.