The Phillies simply hadn't played well, and without a gift from the Braves' pitching staff on Thursday at Citizens Bank Park, they probably would have entered Saturday night's game against the Rockies at Coors Field at 0-4.
"We couldn't get going," Manuel said after the Phillies' 8-4 victory Saturday over the Rockies. "Things weren't working out. Things were out of sync or something. We had no timing. We weren't playing good. Tonight was the best game we've played."
Brett Myers allowed four hits and four runs in seven innings, a good line in the notoriously hitter-friendly ballpark. The offense, which hadn't been able to buy a two-out hit in the first four games, scored seven of its eight runs with two outs.
They finally were in sync.
Ryan Howard got things going for the offense with the bases loaded and two outs in the third inning when he ripped a double off the left-center-field wall. Jimmy Rollins, Shane Victorino and Chase Utley scored to give the Phillies a 3-2 lead.
"It definitely felt good to get those hits, especially those hits with two outs," Howard said. "That makes all the difference in the game when you can get big two-out hits. It helps change the flow."
It certainly does.
The Phillies had hit .170 (7-for-40) with two outs in their first four games, including a dreadful 0-for-12 with runners in scoring position.
But Philadelphia hit .526 (10-for-19) with two outs Saturday, including 3-for-8 with runners in scoring position. Just as impressive, in four of the five innings the team scored, the rallies started with two outs and nobody on.
Jayson Werth hit a two-out triple to right field in the fifth inning to score Utley and Howard and give the Phillies a 5-3 lead.
"Was it that smooth? Did it look good?" joked Howard, told he looked good going from first to home on the play. "I was trying to tell people. Hopefully, they'll all watch the video and see. I'm trying to show Shane Victorino how it's done."
Raul Ibanez hit a two-out solo homer to the second deck in right field in the seventh inning, and Utley scored Victorino with a two-out single in the eighth to put the game away.
"We opened up a little bit," Werth said. "I think that's more of what we're accustomed to. Not that we're going to hit like that every night, but I don't think we've really swung the bats that well. It's so early, and with all the stuff that's been going on ... not to make excuses or say that was a distraction, but it's kind of different. You win a World Series and you've got ring ceremonies and Opening Days. It's just different, you know? We have one more Opening Day, and hopefully we can put all that stuff behind us and get to swing the sticks."
In the Phillies' first seven games, they will have three Opening Day ceremonies (last Sunday at Citizens Bank Park, Friday at Coors Field and this Monday at Nationals Park) and one ring ceremony (Thursday at the Bank).
That's four pregame ceremonies in seven games.
And then there is the visit to the White House on Tuesday.
After that, the Phillies finally will be able to put the past behind them and move forward.
But it was encouraging for them to see the bats come alive and Myers give a good effort. It won't show up as a quality start, but he allowed four hits in seven innings. It just happened that three of those hits were home runs.
Myers has allowed 12 hits in his two starts. Six of them are home runs. That is a ratio he knows must improve.
"I just want to be able to make a mistake and get away with one," the righty said. "That's it. Just one. Then I'll feel a lot better about everything, but right now that's not happening."
But after Myers allowed a solo homer to Clint Barmes in the fifth, he retired the final nine batters he faced. Ryan Madson and Brad Lidge also threw perfect innings, meaning the Phillies retired the final 15 Rockies in order.
"I think we played well as a whole today," Myers said. "Defensively, offensively, everything was smooth ... except for the three homers I gave up. Probably the middle of the season, I make some of those mistakes and they pop them up. I don't know what the heck is going on right now, but it seems like every mistake I make is going over the fence. That's frustrating, but I'm going to make mistakes. Everybody is going to make mistakes. It's just limiting them."
Todd Zolecki is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.Less