The Phillies are rolling with wins of seven of their last nine games. Credit: Getty Images The Phillies are rolling with wins of seven of their last nine games. Credit: Getty Images

 

The Phillies are six games under the .500 mark.

 

They were 4.5 games out of first place prior to the Nationals game against the Astros Wednesday.

 

How is this possible when not too long ago, they were double digits below .500 and seemingly dead in the water?

 

 

Well, if the Phillies played in any other division in the NL, they would be at least 11 games out of first. The team has won seven of their last nine, including sweeps of the Braves (who were in first place) and the Padres. Philly has scored more than six runs per game in their most recent seven wins, this from a team that ranks 24th in the majors in runs scored.

And the bullpen — which started off as the biggest weakness for the Phils — has become a strength. Flexing its muscles against the Braves, the Phils pen allowed just one run in 11 innings pitched. And it boasts flamethrowers like Jake Diekman, Ken Giles and Antonio Bastardo to set up one of the most consistent closers in the game, Jonathan Papelbon.

The club is only one win off the pace of the 2012 and 2013 Phillies teams (33-37) at 32-38. Both those teams had a chance to make a run at the second wild card spot into the fall.

It seems like the old Charlie Manuel manta, “hittin’ season,” has arrived for the Phillies. As the weather warms up, so do they.

The Phillies head to Ryan Howard’s home town to face the Cardinals Thursday.

Philly will face the Cardinals four times, looking to get over the .500 mark (16-17) away from home.Rookie David Buchanan will face Shelby Miller in the opener Thursday at 8:15.