The Phils won big tonight, 4-2 in ten innings over the Mets, their second straight in the series. They pulled back to within four games of the NL East lead after a 2-7 stretch last week helped drop them to seven games back on Saturday.
The big hit was a crushed two-run, opposite-field homer on a mid-plate hanger by Ryan Howard in the bottom of the tenth. The game would never have gotten to that point without a series of small and rather odd plays in the eighth. After a Jimmy Rollins homer to lead off the inning, with two out pinch-runner Shane Victorino stole second and advanced to third on a throwing error on Paul Lo Duca. Aaron Rowand then hit a wince-inducing dribbler down the third base line. As Victorino passed the ball it appeared to be headed into foul territory, but like a gust from a disembodied Lenny Randle (or maybe an Angel in the Infield) the ball stayed fair, Victorino's run was official, and the game was tied. (By the way, I know Randle was blowing the ball the other direction, but you get the point.)
There had to be some sort of divine intervention given that the Phils got five and two-thirds innings with just two runs allowed from starter Adam Eaton AND four and one-third innings of one-hit ball from the bullpen. Will miracles never cease?
Speaking of miracles, there are ten NL teams in contention, and it looked like the Reds were preparing to join their ranks prior to being swept by the Pirates in a double header today. The only other times ten teams in one league were in contention on September 1 were both in the National League, in 1995 and 2003 (i.e., within five games of first place or the wild card lead).
Meanwhile, the Phils brass has yet to reward Charlie "I Need a Friggin'" Manuel with a new contract. But don't let that fool you into thinking they know what they are doing. They are just leaving themselves an out should the Phils again miss the playoffs and a scapegoat is needed. He's far from my favorite manager, and yet I have to admit that he is doing a decent job this season. His rah-rah player's manager approach has appeared to help keep the players loose in this highly improbable season.
That the Phils could be within two games of first at the end of this series is as improbable as them beating the Mets after being shut out by Tom Glavine through seven and having to go to their bullpen early, at least early for a normal starter if not Adam Eaton.
By the way, where did all the Prince Fielder for MVP supporters go? The disappeared with all the Journey fans apparently. That Ryan Howard is now a string candidate for the award after his abysmal start followed by a stint on the DL is quite miraculous in and of itself.