Not even a week after Joe Girardi was fired and interim manager Rob Thomson has already started making headlines with a three-game sweep against the Los Angeles Angels. With immediate success like this, Thomson could find himself erasing the temporary title in favor of a permanent position.
Sweep, sweep victory
The Phillies sweep the Angels
A rocky start to the season and a 21-30 overall record were just two of many signs that signaled the need for a change in leadership. Hired as a bench coach for Philly in 2018, Rob Thomson had seen plenty under former skippers Gabe Kapler and Joe Girardi. So much so that when the time came to take over, he did not hesitate to answer the call. Thomson proudly led his crew into battle against the angels and emerged victorious in the end.
The icing on the cake here was the 9-7 comeback win which saw Bryce Harper hit a game-tying grand slam followed by a three-point outburst from Bryson Stott to send the fans happy home.
The popular saying in baseball, “Let the kids play!” now resounds throughout Citizens Bank Park as young guns like Stott finally get their shot.
Asked about his feelings on the home run, Harper said, “I’m so happy for (Stott), man. What did beat. What a situation for him. To be able to trust our young guys these last few days and really let them play,” via the Philadelphia plaintiff.
Harper also said, “Our young guys need to play. When you want your kids to be successful, they need to play every day. And when they have these opportunities, I think they will take full advantage of them.
Some were quick to point out that it was a subtle jab at Girardi, but overall the message is clear: if they want to win, they have to trust their young talent. As much as we would like to blame the former skipper, it would be unfair to say the least because he cannot shelter all their problems from the storm.
Prior to this series, the Phillies’ struggles lay in several areas of the organization that were beyond Girardi’s control. The bullpen’s inability to pitch effectively, costly mistakes made frequently, and a lack of production from players like Kyle Schwarber and Nick Castellanos are immediate issues that come to mind.
A manager can’t do much for his team, so how does it boil down to the specialist coach’s responsibility to ensure success? Either way, a streak win is a streak win and Philadelphia is onto bigger and better things as we reach the halfway point of the season.
The Milwaukee Brewers will be the next opponent to watch Philly as a new three-game set opens on June 7. I think this will be the real test of Thomson’s managerial skills as the Brew Crew currently lead the NL Central Division with the St. Louis Cardinals just half a game behind. The good thing for Thomson is that he’s seen the Brewers play plenty of times before, so he already knows what he’s up against.
After posting a career-best 1.36 ERA last year, a shaky Ranger Suarez (4-3, 4.69) will take over for Philadelphia against Milwaukee’s Jason Alexander (0-0, 2.57) to start the first game. If the Phillies have really started to turn over a new leaf, it will most certainly show in this series. Only time will tell if this little spark they created will turn into a full-fledged fire representing their $230 million payroll.
AP Photo/Matt Slocum