Call them the replacements.
The journeyman players that GM Ruben Amaro Jr. brought in to fill out the Phillies’ roster had done little to inspire much confidence over the first few weeks of the season. Names like Laynce Nix, Ty Wigginton, Juan Pierre even had skipper Charlie Manuel scratching his head at times.
Those names finally proved their worth in Sunday’s 8-2 win over the Mets. Pierre went 3-for-4. Wigginton tied a career-high with four RBIs, including a bases-clearing double. And Nix stroked his first hit as a Phillie when he blasted an RBI double off the shadows in left field.
Nix and Wigginton combined to drive in five of the Phillies’ eight runs. That should give Manuel at least a spark of confidence when he’s filling out his lineup card during the team’s 10-game West Coast swing. To start, the Phils get Tim Lincecum and the San Francisco Giants Monday night.
“Remember some of those guys on our team, like Ty, Laynce, have been around quite awhile,” Manuel said. “But also at the same time, they are new to our team, so it takes them awhile to get the feeling they belong and I know they very much want to impress you. It takes them awhile to get used to our team and feeling good about themselves.”
Nix had been 0-for-7 in red pinstripes before lacing a seventh-inning double to give the Phils a 3-2 lead. It was also his first start since April 7.
“It was a good time to get my first hit,” Nix said. “You know, it was a little tough not playing for a week to get my timing. I knew that was going to happen first couple at-bats. I’m really happy to do that at the end.”
Wigginton has also been in and out of Manuel’s lineup. His eighth-inning double broke Sunday’s game wide open. It also marked his 10th career four-RBI game.
“Any time you take the field and go out and contribute and keep your team in the ballgame, it feels good,” Wigginton said. “My swing feels good, even in the spring it felt good, it’s just a matter of going out there and getting some results with it and then we’ll go from there.”
Early on, the scene looked like something you might find on Delaware Avenue — after Wing Bowl. The Phillies pelted 10 hits prior to Nix’s double, all singles. But the lack of extra-base hits didn’t seem to alarm Manuel.
“Depends how you got those 10 singles,” Manuel said chuckling. “If we got 10 singles in a row, we’d have to score some runs.”
Of course, his squad responded by putting up a crooked number in the eighth. The frame started with a double by utility infielder Pete Orr and ended with John Mayberry Jr. snaking a run-scoring dribbler fair down the first-base line. Those hits, sandwiched by Wigginton’s double, led to a five-run inning.
“Along comes the offense, that’s like the engine that creates the fire and running power for everything to fall in place,” Manuel said. “If you don’t score runs, eventually it can wear and tear on your pitcher. We don’t want our pitcher to feel like every time he takes the mound he has to throw a shutout or he has to be perfect.”
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Besides — as Manuel reminded everyone — when everybody hits, everybody is happy.
“Offense creates energy and energy shows a lot of effort, it shows a lot of happiness and everyone’s happy when you have offense,” the manager said.