Josh Lindblom remained upbeat on Wednesday, despite an 11th-hour trade that sent him from a playoff-contending club to the struggling, last-place Philadelphia Phillies.
The Los Angeles Dodgers, a game behind front-running San Francisco in the National League West, dealt the right-handed reliever to the Phillies at the trade deadline on Tuesday.
“There are a lot of new faces. It’s the first day of school. I’m excited,” he told reporters in the Phillies clubhouse before his new team faced the Washington Nationals in the second game of a three-game set.
Despite heading to a struggling team with a 46-57 record, Lindblom refused to give up on thoughts of a miracle stretch drive, recalling last year’s magical run by the eventual World Series champion St Louis Cardinals.
“We went into St Louis last year at the end of August and swept them, putting them 11 or 12 games out,” said Lindblom, who was 2-2 with a 3.02 earned run average with the Dodgers this year. “And you saw what they did last year. And this team, the pitching staff, the offense in the line-up. There’s a lot of baseball left to be played. A lot of things can happen in that time. All the pieces are here to make a run at it, especially with this year’s second wild card. It’s going to be a race to the finish line and I don’t expect anything but to win here.”
Manager Charlie Manuel was a little less optimistic about the Phillies’ chances of keeping their five-year streak of making the playoffs alive.
“If we were behind in the wild card by 10 games and we were sitting there at .500, it would be completely different from where we’re at, but this is a game of percentages and for us to have any chance at something we’ve got to really play a high percentage,” Manuel said. “We’d have to play big. With 59 games left, we would probably have to win 45, but I’ve seen teams get in with 84 wins. The Cardinals did it a few years ago.”
The Phillies appeared to throw in the towel on Tuesday, when they traded two-thirds of their outfield, dealing Shane Victorino to the Dodgers and Hunter Pence to the San Francisco Giants.
Nate Schierholtz, who came to the Phillies from the Giants in the Pence deal, said he was excited to be on a team with a deep playoff run.
The left-hand hitting outfielder is hitting .257 with five homers and 17 runs batted in this year.
“There’s a lot of upside here,” he said. “Every year, the Phillies are up at the top. I don’t think there’s any reason we can’t start winning games and make things interesting.”