Originally posted on Taking Bad Schotz  |  Last updated 9/12/12

Flashback: July 13th, 2012

After a 6-2 loss to the Colorado Rockies, the Philadelphia Phillies looked as if their season was over. The loss marked their 5th in a row, and, even less impressive, the 11th loss in their previous 12 games. The Phillies (37-51) trailed the NL-East division leading Nationals by 15 games.

Flashback: August 1st, 2012

Now 15.5 games behind the Nationals with only two months left to play in the regular season, the Phillies became sellers during the trade deadline fiasco. General Manager Ruben Amaro Jr. shipped two of the team’s core, veteran outfielders out west, sending Hunter Pence to the Giants and Shane Victorino to the Dodgers.

Baseball is an incredible game. One look, you may find an opening day lineup card filled with All-Stars, Gold Glover’s, CY Younger’s, MVP’s, and World Series Champions; you may peg them as a favorite to win it all, again. The next look, you may find that same team, decimated by injuries and trades, underachieving beyond belief. Take a third look, and you’ll find yourself a team that is knocking on the door of an unthinkable playoff birth. You’ll be looking at the 2012 Philadelphia Phillies.

Who is writing these scripts for Major League Baseball? When we all witnessed the historic collapse of BOTH the Boston Red Sox and Atlanta Braves last September, none of us thought we would ever see history repeat itself. When David Freese and the St. Louis Cardinals came back from not one, but two final strike elimination threats in last year’s Fall Classic, none of us thought we would ever see something like that again. As tough as it is for me to admit, we were all wrong. We may be witnessing an MLB encore performance, this time thanks to the Phillies.

As of September 11th, the Phillies have closed the gap between the final Wild Card spot to 5 games back of the Cardinals. They have been winners in 8 of their last 10, and are 12 games over .500 since the All Star break. The craziest statistic of this rollercoaster ride is that Hunter Pence, who has not worn a Phillies uniform for now over an entire month, STILL leads the Phillies in homeruns, RBI, and OBP.

The X Factor: Antonio Bastardo

Matt Slocum/AP

At first glance, Bastardo’s statistics look rather bland. He has only appeared in 56 games this season (less than 40% of the Phillies schedule), has a 2-4 record, and most notably, boasts a 4.57 ERA. But what the statistics don’t show is how important Bastardo has been to the Phillies down the stretch. Having been benched for 10 days earlier last month, Bastardo’s scoreless 9th inning save against the Padres extended his streak of now eight straight shutout appearances. Bastardo also ranks 4th in the Majors with a 13.9 K/9 ratio. Who are the only three guys ahead of him, you may ask? Craig Kimbrel, Aroldis Chapman, and Ernesto Frieri.

The Glue (or in this case, the Choo): Carlos Ruiz

via phollowingthephillies.blogspot.com

Enough with the terrible nickname puns. Carlos Ruiz has single handedly held this Phillies team together all season. His leadership with the pitching staff and supernatural season with the stick allowed the Phillies to ‘somewhat’ stay in striking range and put them in the position they are in now.

Phinal Thoughts

The Phil’s late run has gotten absolutely no media attention whatsoever. The national spotlight remains focused on the Orioles/Yankees/Rays race and the Strasburg Shutdown decision. Here’s to hoping this article brings more brotherly love to the Philadelphia comeback that is unfolding right before our very eyes.

-Leon

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