"Honestly, the standings make no difference right now," he said. "What we did in '07 and '08, we made up a lot of games in not a whole lot of time. There is no reason to worry or get too upset. We're the same team that has done what we've done the last three or four years. I think some people need to remember that."
Werth's point is relevant. For all the angst surrounding the Phillies' monthlong slump and tumble in the standings, the team went into the weekend trailing the Braves and New York Mets by one game in the loss column. They were never down by more than four games in the loss column.
This is the same core group that in 2007 rallied from a seven-game deficit on Sept. 12 to win the N.L. East, and in 2008 overcame a 31/2-game deficit on Sept. 10 and won the World Series.
"I think my point was that the guys in this clubhouse are pretty much the same and I think some people need to remember what we did and have a little faith in us and stick with us and we'll be all right," Werth said.
Victorino agreed that the only doubt about the Phillies came from beyond the clubhouse walls.
"You guys made it like we were panicking," he said. "Never at any point were we worried about it. Frustration, yeah, but we weren't worried. It's a long season. Right now we put ourselves right back in contention in this division. That's the thing. You just have to keep playing and let it play itself out."
Victorino said he understood why people wanted to know what was going on.
"I think people expected more," he said. "Fans and the media just didn't expect us to play as bad as we did, nor did we. It's just one of those things. People kept asking, 'Can you put your finger on one thing?' And the answer is no. Nobody can put their finger on what was happening."
"We just kept saying, 'It's a matter of time.' You just keep playing the game. We've been there before, we've done it before. We're not where we want to be. We're not five games up in our division, but obviously we're right there. We've played together long enough as a team and we understand each other, and that, to me, is the biggest thing. We understand what needs to be done."
There really isn't one answer as to why things have turned for the Phillies.
There are several:
As expected, Rollins' return was helpful. In just his second game he delivered a walk-off home run against the Indians. Nobody does swagger better than the Phillies' shortstop.
Collectively, the Phillies have started hitting again, especially the middle of the order. The Phillies had won six of eight games going into the weekend, and during that stretch the trio of Chase Utley, Ryan Howard, and Werth batted a combined .384 with eight home runs and 26 RBIs.
Finally, it really was a matter of time. Anybody who understands baseball knows that it is a game of ebb and flow. Great example: Through 29 games in 2004, New York Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter was hitting .177 with one home run. It didn't happen because he ceased being able to play. It happened because it happened. He batted .320 with 22 home runs over the Yankees' final 133 games.
If a player or a team is good, chances are they will continue to be good until their skills diminish. There was never any sign that was the case with the Phillies.
Inside the Phillies:
Read The Inquirer's Phillies blog, The Phillies Zone, by Bob Brookover and Matt Gelb, at www.philly.com/phillies.
Blog Response of the Week
Subject: Domonic Brown promoted to triple-A Lehigh Valley
Blog response from igglesrock at 11 a.m. Friday: "One problem in baseball today is that players are pushed through the minors too quickly. Moving Brown to AAA is a good move; they need to keep him there and let him develop until he's ready for the show."
Contact staff writer Bob Brookover at 215-854-2577 or firstname.lastname@example.org.