On the series with Philadelphia:
We haven't been this close to first place in quite a while. We've got the two-time defending National League Champs coming in with a chance to be in first place tomorrow. That's saying something, especially with the April that we had, and not to mention a nine-game losing streak. Here we are nipping at the heels of the Phillies. We've got to take advantage of this situation. Don't put too much pressure on yourself.
Just play the game and have fun.
Well, you know, with that lineup it's just a matter of time before they bust loose. Fortunately, I like our pitching staff. I think our pitching staff can continue to hold them down. We'll miss Halladay. We'll miss Moyer, who we haven't scored on this year. That again works in our favor. We've got Tommy, Tim, and D-Lowe going in the series. So we've got our top three pitchers going.
Don't get greedy. Just go out and win the series. We've got to hold serve here at home.
We've been playing really well this month. Let's end it by starting off tomorrow on a good note against the Phillies with a win.
It's not a series where we have to go out and win all three games to feel good about ourselves, which is the way it's been the last year or two. We've been six, seven, or eight games out and had to make hay against them and trying to sweep them. That puts a lot of pressure on you. We've still got a 100-plus games to go. We're playing well. They're struggling a little bit. Let's just go out and play, man. Have fun and do the same things we've been doing for the last month. Whatever happens happens. It's not do or die, whether we win this series or lose this series. We're certainly going out there trying to take tomorrow's game, and hopefully at least one more win will follow past that.
On the month of May
We go through a nine-game losing streak and everybody is saying we're going to be 10, 15 or 20 games out late in the season. Low and behold the Phillies go through a streak similar to what we were going through in April. It happens. Just like when you're hitting rocket shots at people and they're getting caught. Eventually you're going to hit a couple of jam jobs that fall in to help you win a game. It all comes back around if you just pressing on.
Well it started clicking when we got the best on base percentage guys we got at the top of the lineup. Obviously with the way Nate can run, it would be ideal to have him up there if he were hitting better and his on base percentage was better. Prado and Heyward in the top two spots, and my on base percentage is up around .400, it gives the rest of the lineup a lot of opportunities to hit with guys on base and hit with guys in scoring position. You're seeing Mac's numbers go up. Troy's numbers go up. Everybody's numbers are going up. It helps. It's a domino effect. Like I said early on in the season, when the top of the lineup starts clicking, we'll score runs. Unfortunately, we weren't doing that in April.
I'm not going to jinx anything, but when you're on roll like this, and you're riding the wave, you want to ride it as long as possible. As bad as we were in April, and as good as we've been in May, it can just as easily turn on you if you get too overconfident and too cocky. So we're just going to stay within ourselves. We're having fun as a unit out there. It doesn't matter who plays, who starts, who comes off the bench. We're putting a winning mixture out there everyday.
If you had told me at the end of May that Kawakami and Jurrjens don't have a win, I would say we'd be in deep, deep doo-doo. And we're a half game out of first place. I think we're just now starting to play really good, unified baseball. I look for it to get better when KK starts getting some W's, and JJ gets off the DL and gets back to his normal self. I like our team.
We're doing what it takes and not always winning pretty, but getting it done. Any championship club will tell you that you've got to have these games where not everything goes right and you've got to persevere through some stuff. But the bottom line is you come out with a W at the end of the day.
On the offense
Well we're leading the league in walks by a pretty fair margin. That's something I never thought I'd say about a team here. Bobby's style as a manager has been to sit back and wait for the three-run homer. In year's passed, we've had guys that could do that. This is a team more suited to my liking, cause it's got .300 hitters, it's got .400 on base percentage guys, it's got guys that's going to go deep in the counts and make pitchers work, run up pitch counts, get guys tired, and then do damage. I've been the one guy that has probably walked the most over the years here. But it's nice to have guys around me that are taking the same approach and doing the same things, and giving the pitcher an opportunity to beat himself. So many times in the past we would swing our way out of big innings by being overly aggressive and trying to hit the three-run homer. Now we're giving pitchers an opportunity to beat themselves, and you'll be surprised how many times during the course of a game that a pitcher will beat himself if you just let him.
On Troy Glaus
Well he's making Frank Wren look pretty good right now. He's a bargain for what we're paying him this year and the numbers that he's producing. He's a bargain. He's going out there and providing us power from the right-handed side, picking up easy RBI opportunities when he gets the opportunity. Just being that steady force that you're going to have to deal with. I think he'd be the first one to tell you he's had a ton of opportunities to drive in runs, easy runs – guys on third, less that two outs or first and second nobody out. He's relaxed. He's seeing the ball good. He's putting good swings on the baseball day in and day out.
On being in first place
That's what we're shooting for. You got to get there sometime. We came out and ambushed them a little bit in the first inning. We got out of the first. Tommy was really struggling the first couple of innings, but we got out of it unscathed. He finally got comfortable there in about the third or fourth inning. We had three big innings, three three-run innings. It's a great way to vault our way into first place. Now's the hard part. Now we're the hunted. Today's win is only good if we do it again tomorrow, cause if we lose tomorrow we're in second place again.
I think this crew is too focused to worry about where we are in the standings. We're going out and having fun and just doing our thing. We're a cohesive unit right now. We're on a pretty good roll offensively scoring runs and giving this pitching staff some support. I think all those starters will tell you it's a heck of a lot easier knowing that your offense is going to give you five, six, seven runs a game.
Bill Shanks hosts The Bill Shanks Show on
WFSM Fox Sports 1670 in Macon, Georgia and The Atlanta Baseball Show. Shanks writes a weekly column for The Macon Telegraph. Email Bill at email@example.com and follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/billshanks.
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