After Wednesday’s 10-6 loss to the New York Mets, Phillies manager Charlie Manuel had enough.
He met with the team and basically told them that they weren’t playing the game they way he’s accustomed to seeing it from the five-time defending National League East champs.
We’re sure much more was said, but that was the message.
And while it’s only one game, the Phillies say they took the talk to heart.
So much that has been missing – especially timely hitting and capable relief pitching - was evident in Friday’s 7-3 win over the San Diego Padres.
John Mayberry Jr. hit his first home run of the season and Carlos Ruiz, the Phillies MVP through the first 33 games, clubbed his sixth, tying last season’s total.
The bullpen, which had been torched in the sweep of the New York Mets, pitched three scoreless innings, two by Antonio Bastardo and one by Chad Qualls.
And Vance Worley, while not dominating, struck out nine, and allowed three runs in six workmanlike innings.
“I think Charlie’s pep talk kind of really hit home,” Mayberry said after the game. “There is a sense of urgency and we had to pick it up and you kind of saw that today."
Worley also felt that Manuel’s speech made an impact.
“There wasn’t as much music going on today,” Worley said. “Guys were trying to focus in on what they needed to do.”
Before the game, general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. was asked about Manuel’s speech to the team.
“I think the message Charlie gave, I’m sure was heard and hopefully we will move on from there,” Amaro said.
Amaro was asked what has been missing with this team, and he had an easy answer: “Wins right now,” he said. “We’re missing wins. We have to play better baseball and need to play better fundamental baseball and I know the guys can do it.”
For one night, the Phillies did just that.
Skeptics will say, that it came against an 11-22 team that has the worst record in the National League.
It’s the same Padres team that split a four-game series with the Phillies last month in San Diego.
Right now, no opponent or win should be looked down on.
It will be a while before the Phillies truly know if Manuel’s words made an impression.
For one night, they certainly did.
"It’s a good start for us to get back on the right foot to get a W,” Worley said. “We hit the ball better today and played good defense and it’s something we have to build on.”
At this point they have no choice
After the game, catcher Erik Kratz was optioned to Lehigh Valley and the Phillies selected the contract of Mike Fontenot. Infielder Michael Martinez was transferred to the 60-day disabled list.
In addition, outfielder Scott Podsednik was traded to the Boston Red Sox for cash considerations.
Fontenot batted .300 for Lehigh Valley (15 for 50)
Podsednik, who was beaten out by Juan Pierre for the Phillies final outfield spot in spring training, batted just .203 at Lehigh Valley (15 for 74).