If you've only been checking box scores lately, you may have noticed a number of unique starting lineups, and a couple high-scoring victories. Further investigation finds a diverse Phillies team well out in front of the league lead in runs.
What started out of necessity when Ryan Howard went down has become the routine for Phillies manager Charlie Manuel: Change the mix, and change it often. Besides the basic left/right matchups, Manuel is providing opportunities for players who sat on the bench for most of the season, and getting results.
Corner infielder Greg Dobbs has started eight of the last nine games and has seen more playing time since the start of the last home stand. In games Dobbs has started, the team is 13-2. Utility man Abraham Nunez had been getting many of the starts at third when Howard was out and responded by pulling his batting average as high as .317. It took until May 23 for Michael Bourn to get his first start. Starting in place of Pat Burrell, yesterday Bourn started for the second time in as many days.
In addition, some regulars have benefited from the occasional benching. This is the second time Shane Victorino has responded well from it. Victorino is 10-for-23 since sitting out May 22 in Florida.
Individually, you look at players like Dobbs, Nunez, Bourn and Victorino and know their potential to create big-run damage should pale in comparison to Burrell. But Burrell is not hitting and not helping lately and sat yesterday. He has one hit in his last 21 at bats. In the past, Burrell, who suffers from a nagging foot injury, has also responded well from the occasional benching and it wouldn’t be a surprise to see him return to the lineup tonight and get two hits.
For now, flexibility is working for Manuel, whose team is now well out in front of the league in runs scored with 262. With Howard hitting like an MVP again, and Jimmy Rollins hitting again in the leadoff spot, there’s room for experimentation around the edges.
Reading Eagle recounts Zagurski’s journey
Reading Phillies beat writer Mike Drago caught up with new Phillies LOOGY Mike Zagurski just before his call-up to Philadelphia. Drago’s piece offers a ground-level look at what makes Zagurski unique and why batters are having a tough time hitting him. [Link]
As usual, Beerleaguer’s comments section was the place to go to find great little tidbits on the home team this weekend. Most recently, Tray put the Phillies' recent winning ways in perspective. "As things stand we're just three games out … Since the 4-11 start we've played .630 ball. Some interesting numbers:
-- Phillies run differential: 262-242.
-- Dodgers run differential: 218-200.
-- Diamondbacks run differential: 219-212.
-- Braves run differential: 240-228.
By the numbers, we ought to have the best record of all the teams in the Wild Card race."