You could see it in the emphatic clap of the hands that Shane Victorino issued after he popped up from a slide into second base, in the icy stare he emitted at nobody or nothing in particular. You could hear it in the throaty roar that accompanied the play, as Placido Polanco and Jayson Werth rumbled home with the full approval of another sellout crowd.
It was the sixth inning of a mid-August night that gave them nothing more than the luxury of having one less game to overcome. Afterward, two members of the team insisted they would leave it at that, even though they are now the official leaders in the wild-card standings
But at the very least, the Phillies’ closer-than-it-sounds 9-3 victory over the Giants last night provided a preview of the type of late-season baseball this city has come to expect.
“Obviously, at this point, our goal is to win this division,” said second baseman Chase Utley, who went 0-for-5 in his first game back from a 7-week stay on the disabled list. “I think we have an opportunity to do that. We’re right there, and we’l see what happens.”
Victorino’s two-run double didn’t quite prove to be the difference – Carlos Ruiz’ bases-loaded double in the eighth sparked a five-run inning that gave Chad Durbin plenty of insurance to close out the ninth – but it did serve as the latest indication that the Phillies are again intent on owning the last couple months of the season.
There is still plenty of baseball left to be played, something Charlie Manuel reminded the media again last night. Asked if he took any satisfaction in the Phillies’ new status as the wild-card leader, the manager said, “Not at all,” and then shook his head and laughed at the latest incarnation of a question he already had swatted down earlier in the day.