It was last September, near the end of a long season, and Charlie Morton made up his mind before a start in Denver.

"For some reason," Morton said, "I just went out there and tried to throw the ball hard one game. I wound up throwing it harder."

He laughed Sunday, in the middle of the Phillies clubhouse, at the simplicity of the idea. Pitching is not simple. Morton, 32, knows this well. So he has trouble explaining a sharp uptick in his fastball velocity, but he is smart enough to know how important it is.

"I'm really excited about it," Morton said. "Hopefully I can maintain it going forward."

"Against Colorado, I tried to let a few rip," Morton said. "I was throwing harder than I had the whole year. I don't know. I guess it carried over. I had a good offseason. I was healthy."