Phillies find themselves looking up at Pirates
It’s not easy for Phillies fans when it comes to dealing with Pittsburgh sports aficionados. The Steelers have won more Super Bowls than any team (six), while the Eagles have won the least (none).
The Penguins typically race past the Flyers toward division titles. At least Phillies fans have been able to say that their team has typically been better than the Pirates over the last 20 years. But they can’t say that now. The Pirates have the best record in baseball in July and the Phillies are struggling to reach .500. The Pirates haven’t finished with a plus .500 record since 1992, but the Pirates figure that things will be different this season.
“I don’t think people know how good we are,” Bucs closer Jason Grilli said. “We’re a very good team. Just watch and see what we can do this year.”
The Bucs All-Star center fielder Andrew McCutchen believes the Pirates will finally get over the .500 hump this season.
“I think we learned a lot last season,” McCutchen said. “We’re a different team now. We’re ready to take that next step. A lot of where we are has to do with Jason Grilli.”
Grilli, who was part of the Lehigh Valley Iron Pigs in 2011, has been lights out as a closer. Grilli has 27 saves and a sparkling 1.77 ERA.
“It’s been amazing being here,” Grilli said. “The Pirates gave me a chance and I’ve made the most of it.”
Grilli, who was a solid set-up man last season, looks forward to facing the team that failed to promote him in 2011.
“It’s fun going against them,” he said. “They opted not to bring me up two seasons ago, but the Pirates decided to go after me and add me to their staff and I haven’t looked back. I respect the Phillies so much. Ryan Howard, Chase Utley and Jimmy Rollins are great players. I respect them, but I don’t fear them.”
The Phillies and Pirates battle Tuesday night in Pittsburgh. Jonathan Pettibone (3-3, 4.17 ERA) gets the start for the Phils.
Slipping through the cracks
Jason Grilli is one of a number of players the Phillies have let go of that they should have kept.
» Ryne Sandberg was a throw-in player in the Larry Bowa deal for Ivan DeJesus deal with the Chicago Cubs. Sandberg not only became one of the greatest Cubs of all-time, but he’s also a member of the Baseball Hall of Fame.
» Fergie Jenkins was also dealt to the Cubs and he became a Hall-of-Famer as well.
» Gio Gonzalez was part of the ill-fated Freddy Garcia deal. Garcia won just one game for the Phillies, while Gonzalez led the majors with 21 victories in 2012.