The Phillies have come alive.
Four wins in a row.
Aaron Nola and Zack Wheeler have both pitched gems (14 total innings, just two runs) over that span.
The offense has produced 31 runs in the four games, reaching a crescendo in Tuesday night’s 13-6 win over the Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park.
The Phils hit four home runs and stroked three doubles in the game. Ten of their runs came with two outs.
The victory left the Phils at 9-9 as the one-third mark of the 60-game sprint approaches.
Coming into the season, offense figured to be this team’s strength and it has been.
The Phillies will go into Wednesday afternoon’s game at Boston ranking at or near the top in a number of notable offensive categories.
They are No. 1 in the majors in batting average at .268.
They are No. 2 in the majors in slugging at .478. (The No. 1 Yankees are at .482.)
They are No. 3 in the majors in on-base percentage at .349.
They are No. 2 in the majors in OPS at .827. (The No. 1 Yankees are at .832.)
They are No. 7 in the majors, averaging 1.61 homers per game.
The Phils are also second in the majors with a 90 percent (9 of 10) stolen-base percentage, notable because they stole two big bags in their decisive seven-run rally in the sixth inning Tuesday night.
On the pitching side, the Phils rank 26th with a terrible ERA of 5.49. Ah, but the starters have been good. They rank ninth in the majors with an ERA of 3.82. The bullpen has been a problem, though Blake Parker did a heck of a job Tuesday night with two important scoreless innings. Overall, the ‘pen has the worst ERA in the majors at 8.32.
Individually, the offense has been led by Bryce Harper, who ranks first in the majors in on-base percentage (.486), second in OPS (1.186) and fourth in batting average (.367).
J.T. Realmuto is tied for sixth in the majors with eight homers and tied for eighth with 20 RBIs.
Harper had a huge three-run homer in the sixth inning Tuesday night. Jay Bruce and Rhys Hoskins also homered. Didi Gregorius, Roman Quinn and Andrew McCutchen also had important hits.
But the hitting star in the game was Phil Gosselin, who came off the bench and ignited the big rally with a two-out, RBI double in the sixth then added a home run in the seventh.
Gosselin has become manager Joe Girardi’s perfect sixth man providing instant offense off the bench or in starts against lefty pitchers.
Girardi used Gosselin as a pinch-hitter for Scott Kingery with two outs, a man on first base and the Phils down a run in the sixth. Girardi said he did not want to miss the chance to get Gosselin an at-bat against a lefty pitcher (Josh Taylor). It’s likely that Kingery’s struggles (6 for 49, .122) also impacted the manager’s decision.
The decision to hit Gosselin for Kingery was the decision of the game, the turning point.
Gosselin was the last player to make the 30-man roster. He hit his way onto the roster and has not stopped. He is 12 for 28 (.429) with three doubles and three homers.
After the game, the question came up once again: Why not ride Gosselin’s hot bat with more playing time?
The answer is complicated, Girardi said.
Gosselin is mostly a second baseman. He also plays third base and can help at shortstop, first base and in left field.
Playing Gosselin more at second base may have been a possibility when Kingery was the sole man at that position, but that landscape changed when Alec Bohm was called up last week. The former first-round pick is going to get regular reps at third base. That means Jean Segura, who is owed $30 million through 2022, will play second base.
It’s a good thing for Gosselin and the Phillies that the National League is using a designated hitter in this shortened 60-game season. Girardi can use Gosselin somewhere – maybe DH, maybe left field – when a left-hander is on the mound for the opposition. That means Gosselin could – should? – get a start somewhere on Wednesday afternoon. Boston is starting a lefty, Kyle Hart, and Gosselin is 9 for 19 against lefties. Jake Arrieta will pitch for the Phils.
The Phillies are just 1½ games out in the NL East. They have fought back to the .500 mark. Is this the day they get over that mark?