Bottalico: Phillies Are ‘the Little Train That Could'

It's safe to say there weren't high expectations for the Phillies going into the 2016 season. Fresh off 99 losses in 2015, most people expected more of the same from the Phils.

But 32 games into the year and they have 18 wins. How do they keep producing wins?

"They're like the little train that could," Comcast SportsNet Phillies analyst Ricky Bottalico said after Sunday's 6-5 victory over the Marlins (see game story). "You've gotta love what you're seeing right now."

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One of the keys has been the team's stellar record in one-run games. The Phillies sport an 11-3 mark in such contests.

"I don't know how they're doing it," Bottalico said. "This is a ball club that needs to put together a bunch of hits to get some kind of runs going. They have to play situational baseball.

"I just think this is all a confidence booster for these guys. You go out in these games and even if you go down a couple runs, for some reason this team keeps energy and they keep pushing forward."

Of course it doesn't help to have some unexpected contributions. On Sunday, Rule 5 draft pick Tyler Goeddel came through with a game-tying double despite coming into the game with no extra base hits. Andres Blanco followed that with the winning double after coming off the bench earlier in the game. Blanco also clubbed a clutch double as a pinch-hitter late in Saturday's win.

It wouldn't have been possible without some strong pitching, the backbone of the Phillies' early season run. Aaron Nola's 23-inning scoreless streak was snapped in the fourth inning, but he battled through six innings to give the team a quality start.

"I saw one bad inning today and it really wasn't that bad," Bottalico said. "It's not like he's giving up home run and gopher balls all the time. I think he just goes out there and tries to make sure he's making a quality pitch every time he steps back out on that mound. Isn't that what you want from your younger pitchers?

"You want poise on the mound, you want them to pound the strike zone. The one thing I love about him is he doesn't back off anymore. If he gives up some runs, he's coming right back at you."

Hear everything Bottalico had to say after Sunday's win in the video above.

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