Veteran Young instrumental in Phillies' resurgence
NEW YORK -- The Phillies have been here before, and they know they can do it again. Philadelphia moved to a winning record and into second place in the National League East on Friday night, and reported to work on Saturday morning with confidence that its streak can continue.
It hasn't been easy. Regulars Delmon Young and Chase Utley have missed time this season, as have staff ace Roy Halladay and a bunch of relievers. First baseman Ryan Howard and center fielder Ben Revere are on the disabled list, but the Phillies haven't let adversity sink their season.
The Phillies were five games under .500 as recently as July 3, but they have surged to a 9-3 record in their last 12 games on the strength of their offense. Philadelphia has averaged nearly five runs in the last 12 games, and is 36-12 this year when scoring at least four runs.
"I think we were due for it," said veteran third baseman Michael Young. "At the end of the day, we all believed in each other and we knew it could come. The biggest thing was just making sure we stay focused on every at-bat and just continue to have a good ... offensive approach. I think that's one thing we've been doing really well, just bearing down on fundamentals, and things have been clicking."
Young, one of several veterans on the team, has been a big part of that resurgence, batting .327 with 17 extra-base hits in his last 37 games. The Phillies have also gotten solid play from Darin Ruf, who has reached base safely in 10 straight games.
Shortstop Jimmy Rollins hasn't been as hot. Entering Saturday's game, he had gone 161 at-bats without a home run, the fifth-longest streak of his career. He recently moved back to the leadoff slot in place of Revere, giving the Phillies a familar look up top. The move paid off against the Mets, as he sent the third pitch he saw from Zack Wheeler over the fence for his fifth homer of the season.
"Everyone in here has had big individual seasons. Everyone in here has won. So we all know that you're never out of the race," said Young. "We just have to make sure we keep believing in each other and keep our team healthy, and go out there and play hard."
The Phillies, who have the best second-half record (270-168) in the Major Leagues since 2007, trail the first-place Braves by 5 1/2 games, and they hold a half-game lead over the third-place Nationals. Things should be tight for the rest of the year, but Philadelphia can take confidence in its veteran core and in knowing it has the best record (25-14) against NL East clubs this season.
"These guys know how to approach a season. They know how to approach every single game," said Ruf. "They know what it takes to win. It's nice to be around and to learn from them. I think the Phillies' second-half record has been unbelievable the last few years, so hopefully, we can keep that going."