I don’t know what is the bigger story in the Philadelphia area. The Phillies sweep of the Chicago Cubs or the pre-season opener of the Philadelphia Eagles?
Now, I love the start of football season as much as anybody, but at this point of time, the answer a no brainer.
After getting swept by the Florida Marlins this past weekend and opening up the NL East title race, the Phillies showed in their 3-game sweep of the Cubs why they are considered one of the most dangerous teams in Major League Baseball.
The Phillies looked awful against the Marlins.
They couldn’t hit, they had no starting pitching, the bullpen struggled, and even the fielding was poor. Every indication after the series was saying that the Phillies were in line for an August swoon.
But for some reason, going on the road for 3-games at one of the best home field advantage sites in all of baseball, Wrigley Field, brought the best out of the 2008 World Series Champs. The Phillies, as they have done on the road all season long, came to life and played like one of the best teams in the NL.
The focal point of this resurgence was undoubtably that contributions that the bats made. That’s not to put down the performance of the pitching staff, they were great throughout the whole series. J.A Happ gutted through a performance where is stuff looked sub-par and kept the Phillies in the first game, Pedro Martinez had a solid 2009 debut, and Cliff Lee looked like the ace we’ve been accustomed to seeing in the two week since the Phillies acquired him.
However, it was the offense that finally reappeared after a two week hiatus, putting up 22 runs over the three games against the Cubs (7.3 runs a game).
That’s more like the Phillies that fans have grown to know and love.
With a combination of clutch hitting by unlikely sources (Ben Francisco), and dominate hitting by the usual suspects (Ryan Howard has 6 RBI’s in the series and Jimmy Rollins hit 2 HR’s), the Phillies showcased their potent lineup, using the Cubs inconsistent and inexperienced pitching (in the case of Jeff Samardzija) as mere examples to show the baseball world the difference between a good team and a great team.
The question is, will this just be a temporary display of success, or will the Phillies ride the confidence boost of a 3-game sweep at Wrigley towards separation from the pact to clinch another NL East title?