Tuesday, May 15, 2007

The Phrenetic Phillies

The Phils began a series with the hottest team in baseball last night, the improbable Milwaukee Brewers, with a come-from-behind 8 - 6 victory. The Phils scored 6 runs in the bottom of the 8th and had the lead for good when Wes Helms hit a long single off of Derrick Turnbow to plate Gregg Dobbs for the game-winning run. The win gave the Phils a 7 - 6 record so far in the month of May.

Some of the particulars from the past couple of weeks:

- The Phillies lost 3 one-run ballgames during their 10 game road trip out West. Simply winning one of those would have given the Phils a .500 roadtrip. As it is, to date, the Phils have a record of 1 - 6 in one-run ballgames. This is a tribute to their bullpen, which has been substandard (Relief ERA and BA against WELL above NL averages), and their below average ability to hit with runners in scoring position.

- The last game of the Phillies 10 game road trip that ended in Arizona could have easily been a loss and made the sub-par road trip a complete catastrophe. If it wasn't for Jamie Moyer keeping the Phils in this game and Ryan Howard's pinch grand slam, they could have very easily let this game slip away as well. They were flailing mightily at Randy Johnson's offerings all evening before Johnson got wild and got yanked. Couple that with the Phils recent woes in hitting against Arizona's bullpen, and you had the makings of a series sweep. Fortunately, the ailing Howard came on to pinch-hit and save the day to give the Phils the 9 - 3 victory.

- Speaking of Ryan Howard, he's now on the disabled list with a quad strain. You wonder if the stuff that surrounded Ryan as a result of his MVP year last year hampered his ability to be right mentally and physically for the start of this season. You have to hope he's also using this time to fine tune his swing.

- As a result of Howard's DL stint, the Phils recalled last year's folk hero, utility man Chris Coste. Coste was hitting a mere .233 at the time of the call-up. While many fans were upset that Coste was not part of the team this year after hitting .328 in 198 ABs last season, I actually thought that Rod Barajas would be an upgrade over both Coste and Mike Lieberthal. Barajas, meanwhile, hasn't seen the field since the Phils beat the Cubs last Friday, 9 - 3, and for good reason. He's carrying a .178 average into tonite's game. People are going to continue to clamor for Chris Coste unless Barajas picks it up offensively.

- Greg Dobbs, since starting against Arizona on May 8th, is 8 for his last 12 (.318 overall).

- I know this is hypothetical, but at their current pace, if Jimmy Rollins and Chase Utley play in 140 games apiece, they are on pace to score a mind-boggling 122 and 111 runs respectively. Currently, Rollins ranks 4th in runs scored (with 33) in all of MLB and Utley ranks 9th (with 30).

- While Freddy Garcia has started slow to this point (1 - 2, 5.17 ERA), he is at least now stretching into and past the 6th inning and his last two starts (vs. Chi and vs. Atl) were "quality starts". The Phils will need more of the same going forward.

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