Among the positive developments, Manuel listed the emergence of backup catcher Erik Kratz, the pitching dominance of Cole Hamels, the work over the last month of the young relief pitchers, and the defense of Freddy Galvis (before he suffered his back injury and was suspended for 50 games for testing positive for a performance-enhancing drug).
Manuel said the defense had to improve. Entering Thursday, the Phillies had committed 97 errors, which placed them seventh in the National League. They committed 74 errors last season, the fewest in the National League.
"We definitely have to catch the ball better," Manuel said. "This is the worst we played defense as far as mental mistakes. We had a lot of them."
The team will need offensive upgrades, but Manuel insisted that core players such as Jimmy Rollins, who turns 34 in November; Ryan Howard, 33 in November; and Chase Utley, 34 in December, have some good years left.
Aumont wants to stay
One of those young bullpen pitchers who has held his own is 6-foot-7 righthander Phillippe Aumont. Entering Thursday night, Aumont was 0-1 with a 3.97 ERA and one save in 14 appearances covering 111/3 innings.
"This has been great for my confidence," Aumont said before the game. "Charlie and Rich [Dubee] have put me in meaningful situations."
Aumont hopes to use the last month as a springboard to next season.
"I know I will have to battle for a job in spring training," he said. "You come up here and get a taste of this, and you don't want to go back down to the minor leagues."
Porter to manage Astros
Nationals third base coach Bo Porter was named the new manager of the Houston Astros on Thursday. Porter won't begin the job until the Nationals conclude their postseason.
He answered questions from reporters before the game and then said that would be his final time discussing the topic until the Nationals' season concludes.
"I don't want anything to distract what we are doing here," Porter said. "We have a chance to do something special."
Even though the Phillies ended a regular-season sellout streak of 257 on Aug. 6, they concluded their home portion of the season leading the major leagues in average attendance (44,021) and total attendance (3,565,718).
Since the sellout streak was broken when 41,665 attended on Aug. 6 against the Atlanta Braves, the Phillies have had eight sellouts in 27 games, including the 44,070 who were there Thursday.
Contact Marc Narducci at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow on Twitter @sjnard.