With Kendrick Lamar's "Duckworth" blaring through the clubhouse speakers, a spirited Phillies team fresh off a six-game winning streak packed its bags for a daunting road trip.
The Phils, 11-9 after Thursday's 3-2 win over the Marlins (see Instant Replay), begin a three-game series at Dodger Stadium Friday night before heading to Wrigley Field for four games with the reigning champion Cubs.
After that, they play six of their next eight games against the Nationals, who have the best record in baseball and the top three RBI leaders in the majors so far this season.
On the one hand, you want to face these teams when you're hot. On the other hand, we saw what happened late last May when the Phils took a 25-19 record into a nine-game run against the Tigers, Cubs and Nationals that effectively ended their season.
"What a great homestand to leave on," manager Pete Mackanin said. "That was fun. We're coming together as a team."
The Phillies are winning in many different ways right now. They're hitting homers, getting solid starting pitching and effective bullpen work. Three of these six straight wins have been in one-run games.
On Thursday, Jeremy Hellickson handled the free-swinging Marlins yet again. He had a 2.01 ERA against them in six starts last season and carried that success into this start, allowing one run on seven hits with no walks over six innings.
Hellickson has walked just three Marlins in 46 1/3 innings the last two seasons.
"Hellickson, this guy, sometimes I watch him pitch and when he's doing it right, it looks like he's just playing catch with the catcher," Mackanin said.
It's interesting that Hellickson has had this much success early without striking anyone out.
"I've never struck that many guys out," said Hellickson, who did admit he's a little surprised his numbers have been so stellar without the benefit of a few more K's. He's struck out just 11 of the 115 batters he's faced in 2017.
But Hellickson's 4-0 with a 1.80 ERA and 0.80 WHIP through five starts. His pace is slow, but his outs are quick.
The key spot for Hellickson came in the fourth when Martin Prado and Christian Yelich began the inning with singles. Runners were on the corners with nobody out and Giancarlo Stanton, Marcell Ozuna and J.T. Realmuto coming up.
But Hellickson got his only strikeout of the afternoon in that spot, whiffing Stanton, who continues to have relatively quiet games against the Phillies. Ozuna popped out and Realmuto lined out to end the threat.
Hellickson retired all three of them on changeups, his go-to pitch that has legitimately become one of the best pitches in baseball.
Hellickson entered Thursday's start with the fourth-lowest opponents' batting average (.155) on his changeup of any major-league starter since last season. He got seven more outs with that pitch against the Marlins.
You don't often see — in fact, you rarely ever see — a right-handed pitcher turn to his changeup against righties, especially with men in scoring position. Typically, a right-handed changeup is used as an out-pitch against lefties because it fades down and away from them.
But Hellickson's is so good that he's OK throwing it to any hitter in any count.
"Bob McClure and I had that conversation in the early part of last season," Mackanin said. "I didn't understand it. I told Mac, 'I'm not crazy about right-on-right changeups.' He said, 'Pete, it's such a good changeup that he gets people out with it.' I said OK, I'll defer to you on this one.
"And as the season went along, he was right. If you've got that good of an arm action on your changeup that deceives the hitters and the movement, you can get anybody out with it."
Offense for the Phillies wasn't plentiful but it was enough. They scored a run on Dee Gordon's first-inning error, a second after Freddy Galvis' one-out triple in the third, and the deciding run came on Brock Stassi's RBI triple in the sixth.
That was all they needed because of another strong effort by Hellickson and the relievers behind him.
Hector Neris picked up his third save with a 1-2-3, seven-pitch ninth inning. Joaquin Benoit had a perfect eighth inning with two strikeouts.
But sidewinding Pat Neshek picked up the biggest outs with men on base in the seventh inning of a one-run game. The inning ended with a weak swing by Stanton, who punched out with two men on.
It came just a couple weeks after Neshek made Yoenis Cespedes look silly after numerous other Phillies pitchers were victimized by the Cuban slugger.
"For the most part," Neshek said when asked if his deceptive delivery plays better against big, right-handed power hitters. "There's some guys like Adrian Beltre that just destroyed me. But yeah, I like facing big righty guys. That's kind of what I've done all my career."
"It's very important," Mackanin said of Neshek's deceptiveness. "The biggest thing about that is hitters don't see that very often. They don't see it all the time. If they saw it all the time, it would be less imposing. But when you have to change your eyesight down to knee- or ankle-level, it's very disruptive. The deception is what gets you out.
"That was huge. You know what Stanton's capable of doing and Neshek just did a fine job on him. For whatever reason, we seem to make a lot of quality pitches against that guy."
Indeed they do. Now they hope to make some quality pitches against Corey Seager, Justin Turner, Adrian Gonzalez, Kris Bryant, Anthony Rizzo, Bryce Harper, Ryan Zimmerman and Daniel Murphy over the next two weeks.
If they don't, all the positivity of this six-game winning streak will be but a distant memory by mid-May.
"I'm obviously pleased with the performance of the players," Mackanin said. "We've just got to continue that for a little bit longer than we did last year."