Phillies Time Machine: 1990

To start the decade of the ‘90s, the Phillies knew that they had a lot of work to do to get better. The Phillies finished the ‘80s with three consecutive losing seasons. As 1990 rolled around, the Phillies longed for the days of 1980 when they were World Champions or even 1983 when they went to the World Series. Instead, things didn't immediately turn around and they wouldn't until for a few seasons.

If nothing else, 1990 provided some excitement from individuals on the Phillies. There was the arrival of Dale Murphy from the Atlanta Braves. Terry Mulholland's no-hitter and one of the most exciting players to ever put on a Phillies uniform in Lenny Dykstra.

It was Dykstra who would provide most of the lasting excitement. "Nails" would go into June hitting over .400, leaving fans to dream of witnessing one of the most unlikely of all baseball achievements. By the time the season ended, Dykstra would drop all the way to .325, but would be in the race for the batting title throughout the year. When all was said and done, Willie McGee, who finished the season playing in the American League won the National League batting title over Dykstra. As part of his remarkable season, Dykstra put together a 23 game hitting streak to boost his average to .407 on June 10th.

Mulholland provided the one single day spark of the season. Fans in Philadelphia had not witnessed one of their own throw a no-hitter since the last century. Mulholland completely dominated the San Francisco Giants 6-0, facing the minimum of 27 hitters and striking out eight of them. Mulholland didn't walk any batters and lost his perfect game bid on a ground ball to third baseman Charlie Hayes who threw wildly to first base and pulled John Kruk off the bag. The hitter, Rick Parker, was then erased on a double-play ground ball and Mulholland was quickly back on track. As for Hayes, he would save Mulholland's gem later in the contest by snagging a Gary Carter line drive to end the game.

Dale Murphy came over from the Braves and played in 57 games for the Phillies hitting .266 with 7 homeruns. Murphy was nearing the end of a storied career and would retire during the 1992 season.

The Phillies looked like they might contend early on. Then, injuries started to pile up and the pitching staff seemingly fell apart in front of manager Nick Leyva's eyes. Still, the offense pulled together to try to keep the Phillies in the race and young players tried to keep the team in contention. It didn't work. A June slump saw the Phillies go 10-20 and the Phillies slipped below the .500 mark at the All-Star Break. As the young players adapted and others returned from injuries, the Phillies seemed to turn around late in the season, but winning 12 of their last 19 games was nowhere near enough to put them back in the race. The Phillies finished the season with two losses to the Cubs dropping them into a tie for fourth place.

A young Pat Combs, Tommy Greene, Bruce Ruffin and Jose DeJesus joined Mulholland in the rotation for most of the summer. Combs would lead the team with 10 wins, including two shutouts. Jason Grimsley started 11 games and gave the Phillies hope for the future.

In the bullpen, Roger McDowell was the saves leader with 22. Joe Boever and Darrel Ackerfelds provided support and saved nine games between them.

In a season that started with a spring training lockout by the owners, the Phillies saw their share of ups and downs. A final record of 77-85 was actually a ten game improvement over the 1989 club. Still, the Phillies would struggle to return to the post-season until they would celebrate the ten year anniversary of the 1983 team that lost to the Baltimore Orioles in the World Series. On the horizon were key signings of aging, veteran players and a change in managers that would ultimately get the Phillies back into the baseball promised land.

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