Manuel's words resonated in the visitors' clubhouse, and his players responded in a 9-6 victory over the Orioles on Friday, snapping a six-game losing streak to remain six games behind the first-place Nationals in the National League East.
Shane Victorino went 3-for-4 with a single, double, home run and a career-high five RBIs. Jim Thome, playing in what the Phillies hope is a successful run as a designated hitter over this nine-game road trip through Baltimore, Minnesota and Toronto, went 3-for-5 with two doubles and one RBI.
"I think our bench was loose, we had a lot of fun and there was a lot of excitement," Thome said. "And the game kind of flowed, it flowed well. Guys were getting big hits and we were having fun on the bench. I think that's the main thing. Sometimes in baseball we get so serious and we want to do well, but sometimes just taking, not even a step back, but having fun and smiling, that's what the game is about."
"We played like we were having fun," Victorino said.
But make no mistake: players heard Manuel's words. They were strong comments from a manager known for his deft touch.
Manuel said if he were a player and his manager made similar comments, it would make him angry.
Not at the manager, but angry at himself.
His players seemed to take it that way.
"Charlie knows what's best," Victorino said. "When he makes a statement like that, he knows how to rally his troops. He knows how to get us motivated better than anybody. I've been here since the turnaround when we weren't this team that we are and can be."
"When he believes that, it's motivation," Thome said. "He's very honest. I think as players, when you hear your manager say that, you want to get better. You want to get that edge. ... If he believes that, it's up to us to get him to make the comments the other way. Maybe that's a great motivation."
The Phillies took a 7-0 lead in the second inning with the help of Thome, Victorino and a two-run home run from Mike Fontenot, but right-hander Joe Blanton had the Phillies on edge. He allowed three runs in the second, a run in the fourth and set up a two-run Orioles seventh to cut the lead to 9-6.
Blanton allowed seven hits, five runs, one walk, one home run and struck out seven in 6 2/3 innings. It was his best start in his last five in which he has a combined 9.91 ERA (29 earned runs in 26 1/3 innings).
He has allowed five or more earned runs in five consecutive starts. According to Baseball Reference, Calvin Maduro (1997), Ray Benge ('30) and Ralph Head ('23) share the franchise record with six consecutive starts of five or more earned runs.
It's not just that Blanton keeps giving up runs. It's when he gives them up that makes it a little more deflating. In the 11 innings the Phillies have scored runs in Blanton's last five starts, he has allowed at least a run in the next half-inning eight times.
"The way things have been going for me right now I don't even think about [run support]," Blanton said. "I'm just trying to survive out there with the way it's going mechanically and everything."
Fortunately for the Phillies, they built a large enough cushion that they could overcome the mistakes of Blanton and Michael Schwimer, who allowed a two-run homer in the seventh.
They would love to keep hitting like this the rest of the road trip.
"The bottom line is we've got a lot of winners in here that have been through it," Thome said. "We've got winners. We've got guys that have been through the grind a long time. You've got to let that play itself out. Baseball is an up and down game. It's a roller coaster. You put the time in, you put the grind in, you root for each other, you care about each other. We're all brothers."