Philadelphia is falling in love with Nick Williams
Don't look now, but the Philadelphia Phillies enter tonight's series opener with the Houston Astros riding some pretty hot bats. The club has won four of their last five contests while hitting .293 as a team since the All-Star break, good for eighth best in the majors.

"Things seem different right now," said Maikel Franco. "We're relaxed and just trying to go out and do our thing."

One big difference contributing to the Phillies recent turnaround is patience at the plate. Since the All-Star break their walk rate is tied for second best in the majors at 11-percent, a positive contrast to the 7.7-percent mark the club pieced together during the first half of the season. The strikeout rate is also improved, down 3-percent from the first half.

"Hitting is contagious," said Nick Williams. "The way I look at it if one guy does it why can't you?"

Williams is quickly making a name for himself in Philly as a fan-favorite. The rookie enters Monday hitting .309 with four homers and 10 RBI over his first 19 games. His strikeout-to-walk ratio needs to improve (5.3 vs. 22.7), but he's showing he's deserving of a starting role as the rebuild continues to plod on.

"I just try and go out there and do my thing," Williams said. "I've never doubted my ability to succeed, it's just a matter of putting everything together."

Williams led the Phillies' charge on Sunday, launching an opposite field two-run homer in the club's 6-3 win over the Brewers in the series finale at Citizens Bank Park.

"That's the impressive thing about him, he has that opposite-field power," Phillies manager Pete Mackanin said of Williams. "I saw in the spring and realized he had power. But when he joined us recently, just watching him take batting practice, it really struck me how much power he has to dead center and to the opposite field. That could bode well in this ballpark."
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