For much of this period, the most glorious era in Phillies history, the NL champions have lived and died by the long ball.
However, much has changed in 2010. Their home run totals dropped this year and the ability to play small ball has helped Charlie Manuel’s squad win many games in the latter part of the season and first two games of the NLDS.
“A lot of it has to do with the way they pitch us,” Manuel said. “Two, three years ago, most teams would have looked at us and they would have said, ‘We’re going to make the top of the lineup, first two hitters hit fastballs and then we’re going to work on [Chase] Utley and [Ryan] Howard. From then on down we’re going to mix them up, throw them a lot of breaking balls.’”
Shane Victorino thinks the team’s approach has changed.
“We’re taking what they’re giving us,” Victorino said. “We’re trying to be as opportunistic as possible. If we have a chance to score a run, we go for it. With our starting pitching, all they need sometimes is one run.”
Victorino illustrated that perfectly during Game 1 of the NLDS after leading off with a double. He proceeded to steal third and then scored a run on a sacrifice fly.
“We have some speed, so we might as well use it,” Victorino said. ”Home runs are nice. We hit them, but you’re not going to hit home runs every night but you have to score every night. We have improved at that and it makes us a better, more complete team.”