04/30/08 8:10 PM ET
Phils have first winning April since 2003
Despite injuries to key players, team never panicked
By Andy Jasner / Special to MLB.com
According to Cole Hamels, who denied Padres right-hander Greg Maddux his 350th career win in Tuesday's 7-4 victory, the relaxed clubhouse played a huge role in the Phillies' push to their first winning April since 2003.
At 15-12 entering Wednesday's game, they are guaranteed a victorious opening month.
"Going into this month, it wasn't something we stressed about," Hamels said. "I think because we didn't stress about it, we had a winning record."
Only the National League East Division championship team of 1993 had more wins in April when it finished 17-5.
The Phillies began the middle game of a three-game series just a half-game behind the Mets and Marlins in the NL East.
"What are we, 15-12?," manager Charlie Manuel said. "Don't get me wrong, that's good. We're keeping up with the league. But in May, I want us to do better than that."
Last season, the Phillies began 3-9. Three times in the last four seasons, they have started 1-6. They were even 0-2 this season, but refused to get further behind.
"There are great character guys in this clubhouse," center fielder Jayson Werth said. "We knew we would be OK."
While the 162-game season is truly a marathon, getting off to a good start is not something the players are taking for granted.
"The good thing is if we can finish this April up winning, it definitely can set the tone for something better," reliever Tom Gordon said. "We want to carry it into the next month."
Andy Jasner is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.