NEW YORK -- Those wondering if the four-day All-Star break would have an adverse effect on the momentum that the Phillies had gained in a seven-win homestand before the break got an early answer Friday night.
It had no effect.
The Phils came out with guns blazing. They scored 11 runs in the first three innings en route a 13-8 win over the New York Mets at Citi Field (see Instant Replay).
The final score probably should not have been that close, but Kyle Kendrick, the beneficiary of an early 11-0 lead, seemed to wilt in the 95-degree heat and had trouble putting away hitters in the middle innings.
Nonetheless, it was a win for a team that can’t afford anything less as it tries to convince management to keep the team together with the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline fast approaching.
“Obviously, I needed all those runs,” Kendrick said. “I felt good early, but I missed over the plate a lot in the middle innings. The offense picked me up. I’ll take the win.”
The victory was the Phillies’ 10th in 14 games in July. It moved them to a game over .500 for just the second time this season and propelled them past the Washington Nationals into second place in the NL East. The Phils lead the Nats by a half-game. They trail first-place Atlanta by 6½.
The Phils still have a long way to go before they can be considered serious contenders. But some good things are happening.
“Even though we weren’t having the success we needed, we always looked good on paper,” said Domonic Brown, one of three Phillies to belt a home run in Friday night’s win. “I thought it was just a matter of time before good things would come together. You never know in this game. It keeps you humble. It keeps you fighting. So we’ll just continue to do that.”
In addition to Brown, who hit his 24th homer in the third inning, the Phils got a two-run homer from Chase Utley and a three-run shot from Michael Young.
The Phils did most of their damage against Mets’ right-hander Jeremy Hefner, who allowed 10 hits and eight runs and did not get an out in the third inning.
“It was good to come out and score some runs,” manager Charlie Manuel said. “Kyle kind of got worn out in the heat. But we swung the bats good. We were patient early and we got some hits.”
Manuel wasn’t in the mood to talk about how hot the Phils have been.
“We got one tonight, we’ll try to get one tomorrow,” he said. “That’s how we look at it.”
Clearly, the skipper is in full one-day-at-a-time mode. And as long as that one day includes a win, the Phils have a chance as they look to continue their run in the two weeks that remain before the non-waiver trade deadline.
“We’re coming to the ballpark with a good mentality every day,” Manuel said. “We’re coming in with the attitude that we’re going to win that day’s ballgame. Keep going. Don’t look back.”
Have they done enough to convince management that they are in this race? Have they done enough to convince management to add talent?
Team officials say they are looking to add, not subtract. But so far there have been no results. In fact, the team is doing a mighty fine job of standing pat and that has to make you wonder if management still needs a little more convincing.
The Phils lost Ben Revere to a broken ankle last Saturday. Management had almost a week to bring in an outfielder either from outside the organization or within. But when the Phils reconvened after the All-Star break Friday -- no outfielder. The Phils played the game with two backup catchers and just one true backup outfielder.
Manuel said GM Ruben Amaro Jr. would be in New York on Sunday and the two would discuss the roster. Manuel was asked why a discussion like that wouldn’t take place during the All-Star break. The manager indicated that there were discussions over the break.
“There are some things we’re trying to do, I guess,” Manuel said. “I think (the front office) can answers those things better than I can.”
Amaro is looking to add a fourth outfielder-type player and a reliever. One has to wonder, though, how aggressive that quest is. Does the GM want to see a few more wins before he goes all-in? Maybe Friday night’s performance will ramp-up the pursuit of help.