Victorino leading Phils down stretch
Flyin' Hawaiian is team's hot hand in pennant race
PHILADELPHIA -- All of the teams in this year's pennant race have their own superstars.Philadelphians are familiar with what Ryan Howard and Jimmy Rollins have done in Septembers past and what they are doing this September as the Phils hone in on a second consecutive National League East title. But they're just two guys. "You're going to have guys that are going to carry you along," center fielder Shane Victorino said. "But there's going to be guys that have to step up." No one has stepped up quite like Victorino during the Phils' past 11 games -- a 10-1 stretch in which they have gone from looking like a team that might miss the postseason to standing on the brink of locking up a playoff spot. The Flyin' Hawaiian entered Tuesday's game vs. the Braves in the midst of an 11-game hitting streak, during which he has hit .488 (21-for-43). Victorino entered the contest hitting .292, the highest batting average on the team. "I think confidence has a lot to do with it," Victorino said. "I can't point my finger and say, 'Well, this is what I'm doing differently in the last two weeks or the last month.'" Whatever it is, the Phillies hope he keeps getting on base. When Victorino scores at least one run in a game, they are 52-24. Victorino insists that his approach at the plate is the same, regardless of where he hits in the batting order. But he seems to have become comfortable since shifting from the No. 2 slot -- where he spent the season's first 4 1/2 months -- to the No. 6 slot. Manager Charlie Manuel likes hitting Victorino sixth because having a switch-hitter there helps balance the lineup. The numbers show that Victorino likes it as well -- he's hitting .263 in the No. 2 hole and .383 as No. 6. "I'm still getting pitches to hit," Victorino said. Victorino is one of the most energetic and talkative players in the Phils' clubhouse, but he shies away from trying to compare this year's September to last year's, when Philadelphia got hot and swiped the NL East from the Mets. There is one similarity, however, that he can't help but point out -- that each player stepped up when needed. "I can think back in my head to nights where different guys came up with big hits," Victorino said. "And I think that's what this is all about. When you're in a pennant race, when you go and you get to the playoffs, every single person has something to do with it."
Kevin Horan is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.