THE PHILLIES stopped feigning ignorance long ago. Yes, they are watching the scoreboard. Yes, they know exactly what the Braves do. And yes, they are well aware that they appear to be on a collision course with their NL East rivals, whom they play six times in the final 12 games of the season.
“It’s kind of traveling that way,” Phillies manager Charlie Manuel said last night after his team split a day-night doubleheader with the Florida Marlins to pull to within a half game of Atlanta. “It’s kind of like a hurricane. They’re predicting it’s going up the coast and the track it’s going to take. This is kind of similar to that.”
After all of it was over, they were 79-60 and closer to first place than they had been since May 31.
Good luck categorizing this storm, though. While meteorologists have weather patterns and ocean currents at their disposal, there is no advanced degree for figuring out the Phillies’ offense. They started yesterday by making a 28-year-old career minor leaguer look like a young up-and-comer in a 7-1 loss, and they ended it by making a young up-and-comer look like a career minor leaguer in a 7-4 victory.
Against Adalberto Mendez, who was making his first big-league start after eight seasons in the minor leagues, they managed just one hit in six scoreless innings, getting their only run in the ninth inning on an RBI single by Jayson Werth.