Yep. Thanks to a sweep of the once mighty Chicago White Sox at home, the Phillies are now tied with the Braves at 2 games back of the Mets. Beating up on the White Sox helps, but the recent rise in the NL East standings probably has more to do with the Mets and Braves both falling apart and coming back to the middle. Over their last 10 games, the Mets are 1-9, the Braves are 3-7, and the Phillies are 7-3 (imagine if they could have taken that Royals series...).
The Mets have been hampered by some injuries, but so have the Phillies, with Brett Myers and Tom Gordon leaving the bullpen to El Pulpo and the boys and Freddy Garcia's spot in the rotation going to Double-A arm Kyle Kendrick. Surprisingly, the Phillies haven't looked as horrible as you might think, especially against Ozzie Guillen's club to start the week. Of course, the White Sox are the least productive offense in baseball (can you believe that?), but it's good to see that the Phillies didn't fall to the occasion, with Chase Utley and Aaron Rowand taking a torch to Guillen's job security. It's not too early to start the MVP chants, by the way.
Up next are the Detroit Tigers, who come to town for a weekend series starting tomorrow. And yes, the Phils will face Justin Verlander, who notched a no-hitter in his last appearance. Kid is good. Look for him on Sunday against Adam Eaton, who just threw 7 innings of shutout ball and has won 4 of his last 5 starts. Friday we'll see Jon Lieber take on Jeremy Bonderman, and on Saturday Jamie Moyer will face youngin Andrew Miller.
A quick look at the numbers shows the Phillies leading the NL in runs, OBP, and OPS (the best markers of offensive success), and 2nd in slugging and steals. I can't believe it. The Phillies are second in steals? Billy Beane might not think they matter much, but I love to see that spirit on the base paths. Utley is tied for the league lead in RBI, and Cole Hamels has an NL-best 9 wins and the most strikeouts in the majors at 104.
The Mets have to play the white-hot Yankees this weekend, so by the time your ass hits the desk chair on Monday, the Phillies could be in first place. Or third. The Tigers are pretty good too.