The Phillies will try for their 12th win in 13 games when they take on Dave Williams and the Cincinnati Reds.
May 12 will be remembered as the day the Phillies unleashed Cole Hamels, but the undercard featured an excellent all-around night by the offense.
Hero du jour Shane Victorino had a career night, going 4-for-4 including a game-breaking home run. Since replacing Aaron Rowand, Victorino has gone 6-for-6 and is now 14-for-34 (.424) with a 1.183 OPS on the season. After the game, Victorino reflected on his team's recent turnaround.
"It all goes back to confidence," he told MLB.com. "Early on, we never doubted ourselves, and look at where we're at right now. We've won 11 out of 12, and we're still going to stay confident and go out and work."
That confidence has translated into a huge surge in the late innings, as it happened again last night. In their last 10 games, they are hitting .347 with 6 home runs from the 7th inning on.
One Phillie looking to get back on track, however, is Bobby Abreu. Abreu is still getting on base via the walk, but has not made much solid contact the past two weeks, resulting in a sinking .257 average. Abreu has not stroked an extra-base hit since May 2 at Florida.
Tonight’s starter Jon Lieber (2-4, 6.60 ERA) is looking for his third-straight win. Lieber has an impressive strikeout-to-walk ratio of 28-to-3, but like many of the Phillies starters, has been giving up lots of hits and unplayable line drives.
He’ll face left-hander Dave Williams (2-2, 7.85 ERA), who was acquired by the Reds this offseason in a deal that sent Sean Casey to Pittsburgh. According to the AP preview, Williams has struggled with his control this season, allowing at least one home run in every start for a total of eight, and has also collected 14 walks compared to just 10 strikeouts.
Team records: Phillies (20-15), 2nd in NL East, 2 back of New York; Reds (23-13), tied for division lead with St. Louis in NL Central.
Reader discussion points
Beerleaguer’s hit count has gone off the charts this week because of all the headlines the Phillies are making. Here’s a quick synopsis of what readers have been talking about in our growing comments section:
--- The New York media has been talking about the Phillies as a possible trade partner with the Yankees. The Yanks could be in pursuit a replacement outfielder with Hideki Matsui and Gary Sheffield on the pine. Bobby Abreu’s name has been mentioned, as has David Dellucci, who played with the Yankees briefly in 2003.
--- Much of the focus after yesterday’s game fell on beleaguered reliever Julio Santana, who managed to turn a blowout game into a save situation for the second time this season. If Santana continued to struggle, the Phillies may be in excellent shape to replace his mop-up role internally. Geoff Geary would be the obvious choice, but not a lock. The Triple-A Red Barons have six relief pitchers with ERAs under 2.84, including Ryan Cameron (14.1 IP, 0.63 ERA, 3 SV), Dan Giese (11 IP, 0.82 ERA), Clay Condrey (19.0 IP, 1.42 ERA), Jim Crowell (11 IP, 1.64 ERA), Brian Sanches (16 IP, 1.69 ERA, 4 SV), Yoel Hernandez (10.1 IP, 1.74 ERA, 6 SV), and Travis Minix (12.2 IP, 2.84 ERA).