Maybe earlier in the year if Cole Hamels wasn’t on top of his game, a result like Friday’s 6-4 win over the Boston Red Sox wouldn’t have been possible.
Hamels battled, needing 113 pitches in seven innings. He gave up multiple home runs for the first time this year. He won’t get many style points for this one, but it showed he can fight even if he isn’t lights-out dominating.
“We were able to battle and gets runs and I was able to hold it,” Hamels said. “
It was interesting afterwards that both Hamels and Jonathan Papelbon, who earned his 12th save with a scoreless ninth inning against his former team, talked about regaining that winning feeling.
This is something that has been taken for granted the previous five years when the Phillies captured the National League East. Now that the Phillies (21-19) have won six in a row, they are starting to get some much needed confidence.
“It is great for our team to get over the hump,” Hamels said. “We’ve been battling the last couple of months to get over the .500 mark.”
Papelbon talked a lot before the game about what it meant to face his ex-teammates and mentioned it a little afterwards. Yet his focus was more on the Phillies turning the corner.
“We've been on a good little streak here, and we've got to keep this train rolling,” Papelbon said. “Like I said earlier in the season when we were struggling, we've got the capability to put 10 wins on the board real quick. We've got to keep staying at the task at hand."
It’s amazing how quickly a team can lose and gain confidence in a 162-game season. A week ago the Phillies had lost four of five and saw their record drop to 15-19.
There are still plenty of issues, with the bullpen looking like priority No. 1.
Other than Antonio Bastardo and Papelbon, the bullpen has many questions, especially getting Chad Qualls back on track.
Led by Carlos Ruiz, who is now batting .371, the offense is improving and the starting pitching remains a strength.
There are so many ups and downs in a season. The Phillies benefited from playing the likes of the Padres, Cubs, but the schedule gets much more difficult now. Even Boston, sitting in last place in the A.L East, entered the game having won six of seven.
And if the Phillies want to stay humble, all they have to look at the standings, where they remain in last place in the N.L. East. Yet the Phillies are only four games out of first place. That’s a place they used to occupy at will and take for granted.
Now they know they have to truly fight, just as Hamels did on a night that he wasn’t sensational, but good enough for him and his team to both earn their sixth consecutive wins.