The Phillies offense was awful to start the season — and was not giving the potent pitching staff the credit and support it deserved. For the first 15 games this season the offense mustered just overtwo (2.47) runs per game, worst in baseball.
Then, manager Pete Mackanin moved the pitching spot up to eighth in the batting order. The theory was that the struggling leadoff hitter would have a better chance in his second time through the order with — in this case Peter Bourjosbatting behind him.
In the four games since making the change (not including Tuesday night’s game in Washington with the pitcher slotted eighth as well) Philly has scored 6.25 runs per game.
It’s a small sample size to be sure, but the Phillies will take it.
Steve Carlton was the last Phils pitcher not to bat last in the order previous to Jeremy Hellickson last week. He did it in 1979.
“Wherever I am in the lineup, I’m fine with it,” Bourjos, who had a game-winning infield single from the 9-hole to win in extras against the Mets last week,said. “It’s almost better to have the pitcher in front of me instead of behind me because you see better pitches to hit.”
Philadelphia has won three of its last four games, scoring five runs in their Sunday loss in their new batting configuration.
A tough stretch lies ahead for the Phillies, with the Nationals, Indians and Cardinals waiting as the team’s next three opponents — and it could very well be that the batting-order shakeup was just a blip and unrelated to their recent success seeing and hitting the ball.
Or it could be a new catalyst for success at the plate.
For a team picked by many to finish dead last in baseball (like they did last year), they’ll try anything. And at 9-10 through 19 games, they have to be pleased with their success so far.