Here’s a little indication of how poorly the Phillies have played at home in 2014:
They completed their best homestand of the season with an 8-4 win to complete a three-game sweep of the previously rampaging Washington Nationals on Wednesday night.
The sweep gave the Phillies a 7-2 homestand -- and they are still five games under .500 (33-38) at home for the season.
“It was a good homestand,” said Marlon Byrd, who smacked his 24th home run, a two-run shot in the seventh to help the Phillies pull away from the Nationals, who had entered the series with 12 wins in their previous 13 games. “We beat some tough pitching.
“Now we have to keep it going so we can smile after games.”
There hasn’t been enough of that this season, for reasons that can be summed up in this: 61-72, last place, 14½ games behind in the NL East.
The Phillies elevated their game throughout this homestand, especially in sweeping the first-place Nationals. The Phils received good starting pitching, good bullpen work and something that is often missing -- timely hitting. They manufactured a run in the eighth inning for a win Tuesday night and came back with some long-ball pop for a come-from-behind win Wednesday night.
The Phils hit three home runs in the game, the big one a two-run, pinch-hit shot by Grady Sizemore with one out in the sixth inning (see Instant Replay). The home run gave the Phils a 5-4 lead and got Domonic Brown off the hook after he doubled in a run then was erased on a base running blunder. It also moved Kyle Kendrick in line to get a win.
Kendrick allowed his customary runs in the first inning, two of them, raising his first-inning ERA to 10.00, but his mates came back with two runs in the bottom of the inning, one on a homer by Jimmy Rollins, and Kendrick was able to hold the Nats to two runs the remainder of his six-inning stint.
Rollins helped Kendrick with more than the home run. The shortstop noticed that Kendrick may have been tipping his pitches. The two had a conversation in the dugout after the first inning. Kendrick made an adjustment to how he grabbed the ball in his glove and found some success.
Sizemore’s go-ahead homer came on an 0-2 curveball from Doug Fister.
“Two strikes,” Sizemore said. “I’m just trying to battle and protect.”
The Phillies signed Sizemore on June 25 after he’d been released by Boston. They brought him to the majors before the all-star break with the idea of taking an extended look at him to see if he could add some production to weak spots in left or center field.
The day after Sizemore signed, centerfielder Ben Revere began his explosion for 80 hits in his next 54 games to raise his average from .275 to .310 and put him in contention for the NL batting title.
Revere’s hot streak and the team’s desire to platoon Brown and Darin Ruf in left field has pinched Sizemore’s playing time, but overall he has been productive, hitting .307 with nine doubles, two triples, two homers and nine RBIs in 114 at-bats over 38 games.
Sizemore, 32, missed all of 2012 and 2013 with an assortment of injuries and he’s still trying to build himself back up. He’ll play somewhere next season. Maybe he’ll be with the Phillies as an extra outfielder, or maybe he’ll go somewhere that offers more playing time.
“I think everyone wants to play every day,” Sizemore said. “I’ll see what’s out there. But I’m really not looking past this year. Mostly I just want to finish this year healthy.”
Manager Ryne Sandberg likes what Sizemore brings to the team.
“He has quality at-bats,” Sandberg said.
One of those quality at-bats helped the Phillies sweep the Nationals and close out the best homestand of the season Wednesday night.
“Guys are playing with a lot of energy,” Sizemore said. “It’s fun when you win.”