The Phillies wait until the first Sunday of the NFL season to notch their most well-rounded victory of 2005, blasting Florida 11-1 to win the series in textbook fashion. Or were you watching football?
While the eyes of the sports world focused on an oblong pigskin in cities across the country, the Phils performed they way they were designed to perform, getting doubles and triples from the top, while the thumpers in the middle drove them home.
Meanwhile, the guy that was supposed to carry the load, Jon Lieber, had one of his best starts as a Phillie, allowing four hits and one run over seven solid innings.
His mates gave him plenty of run support this time, sticking runners on the bases all afternoon. Before it was over, the Phils drew eight walks and 14 hits, five of them for extra-bases. Like cornbread - ain’t nothing wrong with that.
With the win, the team avoided that old baseball adage that spans generations: "Good teams don’t lose in their home park to Ismael Valdez in September." Casey Stengel said that.
Pat Burrell made sure of it, blasting a tape-measure three-run shot to left off Valdez in the third inning, giving the Phils a 6-1 edge.
Before it was over, even L’il Endy Chavez got an RBI, though it came on a fielder’s choice. And Charlie Manuel also thought to coast was clear enough to bring in Rheal Cormier for some charity work in ninth. I started to sweat, but Cormier managed not to squander the 11-1 lead.
The Phils could have used a lot more of this against the Astros last week, racking up 29 total runs this series.
Specifically, Burrell is seeing the ball better than ever, reminding me of the Bat that won player of the week honors twice in April and May. I’d also say Jimmy Rollins is showing signs of “getting it,” demonstrating a little more patience at the dish. And just when some phans were ready to throw in the towel on Kenny Lofton, he had two nice games this series, including four RBIs. The center field platoon of Kenny Lofton and Jason Michaels may very well be Manuel's crowning achievement.
Andruw Jones and Win Shares
The Phils get set to face Andruw Jones and the Braves tomorrow. Jones broke the Braves’ record for home runs Sunday, overtaking the franchise record of 47 shared by Hall of Famers Hank Aaron (1971) and Eddie Mathews (1953). He belted two jacks to improve to a league-best 49 on the season.
"We've gotten a lot of Win Shares questions lately. In particular, folks want to know why Andruw Jones only has 22 Win Shares, third on the team behind Marcus Giles (24) and Rafael Furcal (23). The answer is relatively easy: Andruw has not batted well with runners on base.
"Overall, Jones is batting .270, but he's batting only .213 with runners in scoring position (RISP). What's more, only 38% of his home runs have come with runners on base, even though 51% of his at-bats have been with runners on. So even though he may wind up with 50 home runs and well over 300 total bases, he hasn't had the impact many players with his stats have."
Jones is actually behind three Phillies: Abreu (10), Burrell (26) and Utley (29).
Horse-patootie! I awarded Jones my first-half NL East MVP in my midseason report card, and the argument has only gotten stronger. If you go by Win Shares, the best contributor in the NL East is Abreu. Bah!
As for the league MVP, I’ll go with the Win Shares and take Albert Pujols, with close consideration also going to Beerleaguer favorite Jim Edmonds. He plays center field with the grace of a G.I Joe ballerina (pictured right).
I'd trade any player in town for Edmonds, without question, and without concern for age.