As Phillies Agonize Over End of Sixers Game, Carlos Santana Makes Interesting Comparison


Twenty minutes after the Phillies finished off their third straight win and second lopsided victory over the Giants, the eyes of the entire clubhouse were glued to four big-screen TVs showing the end of the Sixers game.

From Rhys Hoskins exclaiming "Al Horford can still do that?!" after his late dunk to the elation of JJ Redick's long three, the Phillies were into it as a unit.

This is a pretty close team that is feeling good about itself right now. The Phillies have won four of their last five games and completely dominated the Giants twice in the last three nights.

They've outscored the Giants 26-4 and out-homered them 6-0 in the series. San Francisco is still a hated opponent around these parts for the role the Giants played in the 2010 playoffs, so this is a series that is getting the fans going too.

There will always be a bunch of positives in an 11-3 win, but the list has to start with Carlos Santana, the Phillies' $60 million first baseman who got off to a slow start but is crushing the ball in May (see first take).

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Santana went 3 for 5 with a double and five RBI (three with two outs) in the win. He has eight extra-base hits in his last eight games as his slugging percentage has grown from .276 to .394.

"Everybody altogether," Santana said of the Phillies' lineup, making sure to highlight Maikel Franco. "It doesn't matter when the lineup changes, Hoskins had the day off. Everybody is comfortable."

Santana was a part of some dynamic offenses in Cleveland that had speed, power and the high-batting-average, low-strikeout types like Michael Brantley. In his mind, there isn't a whole lot of difference between those Indians and these Phillies.

"Same, Cleveland and here," he said. "Only here, they have a lot of younger players, hungry talent."

It was only a matter of time before Santana broke out. Throughout his career, April and May have been by far his worst months, but he turns it on each summer. He's shown remarkable consistency throughout his career - over the last six seasons, his on-base percentage has ranged from .357 to .377 and he's averaged 24 home runs. Not every Phillies fan was familiar with that track record, so the signing was questioned a lot in April. 

Now? Not so much.

"For Carlos, we never had a doubt," manager Gabe Kapler said. "We were consistent with that message and we will be again if he struggles for a 15-to-20 game stretch. That's going to happen again.

"We knew that if he continued to strike the ball with authority, eventually those balls were going to start to fall."

Fall they have, and the production from Santana and Franco (.349 batting average, five homers, 12 RBI in his last 17 games) has been necessary for the Phillies to win lately with Hoskins, Scott Kingery and Cesar Hernandez not as hot as they were in early April.

"Give Rhys the night off, give Scotty the night off and everybody just piles on [the Giants]," a grateful Nick Pivetta said during the Celtics' final timeout. "We're rolling right now."

The Phillies are 14-2 against non-NL East opponents, 14-5 at home and go for their second four-game sweep already this season when they play the Giants in a 1:05 p.m., Facebook-only game Thursday.

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