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Saturday, May 31, 2008

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Just a short week ago the Phils were playing horrible play and were barely viewable as I found it unenjoyable to watch the game. Now...holdy schnikes! Chase Utley is Mr. Awesome. I know that's a lame nickname, but it's so fitting of our offensive leader.

Glad to see Brett Myers calm down and pitch beautifully after that ugly 1st. He needs to get the 1st inning jitters out of the way (7 straight games giving up a run in the 1st) and pitch like he's capable.

1st place is sweet, very freakin' sweet!

From the end of last thread:

There's something to be said about comfort in consistency. Although the Phils pitching staff hasn't be lights out by any standard, they have been reliable in the fact that no member of the staff has seen DL time this year or been demoted. Phils are the only team in MLB to use only 5 starting pitchers this season. The bullpen, best in MLB, has been great too, even mop-up boy Clay Condrey (considering his role and all).

Quick #'s: Phils are 2nd in MLB with 305 runs (Cubs 1st). Phils are 1st in MLB with 82 longballs. Phils 1st in stolen base success rate with 85%, thank you Davey Lopes! Staff era of 3.97, would have never predicted that entering the season.

Some random thoughts...


1. As the weather has warmed up, several of the warm-weather players have heated up. Not surprising at all. This lineup is scary, and deep. Especially against pitchers who look intimidated by the ballpark and/or aren't experienced enough to be pitching well in the big leagues.

2. Chris Coste's story is about as good a one in the past 20 years of Phil baseball. Forget the "feel good" stuff. This guy can flat-out hit. I think easily, the best back-up catcher in the business.

3. The Pigs in AAA are playing much better. At least they are now watchable. Happ and Mazone have pitched well all year. Watson is hitting over .300 and Jaramillo has raised his BA over 50 points in the past few weeks.

4. Have been completely wrong about Reading this year. Thought they would pitch great and have trouble scoring runs. Its been the complete opposite. Carpenter has been terrible and Carrasco a bit inconsistant (although his ERA is still solid). Outman shows promise as a reliever and Overholt, despite a bad outing last night, has been very good as the closer. The "Big 3" hitters have been great all year, with Donald, Marson and Golson each putting up great numbers. All 3 are legit Eastern League All-Star candidates. Harman has been a big disapointment, hitting in the low 200's most of the season. Overall the team record though, has been a big negative surprise for me.


The probable pitchers the Phils will see over the next week (in order)...

Nolasco
Miller
Arroyo
Harang
Volzquez
Fogg
Hudson
Reyes
Campillo


Not exactly, a bunch of Cy Young candidates there. Some guys, that the Phils have hit very well in the recent past. With all but the Atlanta games at home, and the hot bats the Phils have going right now, could be a very good week for the offense. Cincy and Atlanta can both hit (although Atlanta hasn't hit much lately), so the pitchers need to be steady and keep the ball in the park. Especially the righthanders, going against Cincy next week, with all of their left-handed thunder.

Overall, most folks have to the very pleased with the team so far this year, and where they are at right now. Just gotta stay healthy, which has always been the main issue.

Unbelievable run production. I was at the game last night and after the first inning thought we were in trouble. Not so. Myers got it together and the bats delivered yet again! Awesome win. It's time for a sweep!

http://myteamrivals.typepad.com/phightin_phils_phorum

denny b: Thanks for the look ahead. The only pitchers in that group who worry me are Miller, Harang, Volquez & Hudson.

I really like the team the Reds have put together this year, especially since they dropped Golson Sr. and put Jay Bruce in the lineup.

June just may be our toughest-scheduled month; going 8-2 on this homestand would be a great help.

denny b. - "

Not exactly, a bunch of Cy Young candidates there." (hit post instead of paste)

I had to chuckle at this assessment since I count 2 in that list. Volquez may be the one to challenge Webb since he's leading the league in ERA and Ks. Hudson's pitching well with 7 wins and a sub-3 ERA. Harang is capable of dominating even though his record sucks.

phils playing +500 ball since april 19th feels good

Myers was at 93 at times last night. consistently around 90-91, not 87

Another positive from last night: Myers did not allow a HR. If I'm not mistaken, that's his third straight start without a HR allowed. Trends like that bode well for his chances of making himself a dominant starter once again.

The Phillies are once again taking advantage of their first long homestand of the the season; if memory serves correct, they also used this kind of opportunity as a springboard in the past three seasons during May. At this point 7-3 would be a disappointment. Doesn't this feel like it's finally their moment in the sun? The Braves are hobbled, the Mets are psychically scarred, the weather is warm, the park is sold out, even Brett Myers pitched eight innings. And now they're in first place a third of the way through the schedule.

I know the bubble of optimism could easily be pricked with a loss tonight (as could the first-place status) but in spite of the momentum involved, I objectively believe that this is the Phillies' division to lose. (Maybe I shouldn't put it that way, but you know what I mean.)

The way I see it, and it's not exactly a revelation, Myers is the key to the season. Without him pitching to his capabilities consistently, this team looks a lot less like a real World Series contender, and more like any number of teams that can hit like crazy, but can't pitch.

Had I been online last night during the game, I would have posted this comment after the first inning:

"It's time to shut Brett Myers down. Something's just not right. He can't hit his spots and he's overly concerned about his velocity. Sure, PtB could have caught that ball limitng the Fish to just two runs in the first inning, but that's not the point. Brett gets himself into trouble in the first inning of every game and you can't just wait for the offense to rescue you. It's time to start throwing strikes, mixing pitches and getting outs. Myers shows absolutley no indication that he can do that right now. Put him on the shelf for a couple of weeks and hope when he gets back his head is on straight. If Happ comes up and looks great, lets send Brett to the bullpen as a setup guy and give Condrey his walking papers."

It's amazing what 7 innings of really good pitching can do to confidence. The funny thing is, even when he's bad, he shows flashes. How can a guy who was pitching as bad as he was to start the game still manage to make so many hitters look bad. It was pop ups and strike outs. That's shows a pitcher who's fooling batters. Over his last six innings, he found something. And I don't want to hear that the Fish are a weak lineup. They're not. They've hit a lot of pitchers really hard this year. They had 40 home runs in May going into last night (2nd only to the Phils 41 homers this month).

If Myers can find himself, things are really looking up.

i just want to point out that Howard had a GREAT AB to draw that walk that opened the floodgates in the 2nd.


Quality Starts/Start:
Myers: 5/12
Hamels: 6/11
Moyer: 6/11
Kendrick: 6/10 *not counting the 1IP rainout
Eaton: 6/11

I honestly think the most important stat by Brett is the 3 starts in a row without letting up a HR...those 3 coming after his meltdown against ATL where he gave up 3. That's huge. I know he's not suddenly an Ace but he is pitching better. Perhaps he and Eaton realize that Benson is almost ready to join the rotation and its lit a fire under their collective arses to start pitching like Major Leaguers.

They way they're playing makes me feel like "Bessy the Cow". I'm all Mooooo'd up! Anyone have any chocolate milk?

I read a lot of comments this morning in the previous thread about Harry's call on Howard's HR, but very little about the HR itself. So, here's my 2 cents:

I was watching the game, on and off, as the missus and I had guests - we were on the deck with neighbors imbibing in adult beverages of the fermented grape variety - and I happened to be walking by the TV on my way to the cellar for reinforcements.

When Howard hit that HR I yelled to my baseball fan neighbor to come watch the replay. What struck me about the HR is the question I asked him:

How strong is Ryan Howard? How strong is a guy who can hit a ball for a HR off the END of his bat to the extreme opposite field?

He was clearly amazed also, and added this: If Howard is hitting HRs like that, then it bodes well because he is really locked in. He's letting the ball get deep and being very patient.

Let's hope he keeps it up for a while.


With regard to denny b's posting of the likely pitchers the Phils will see I say this:

They all 'scare' me in this sense: Only a week or so ago this offense got shut down by the Nats pitchers for a couple of games, so I'll take it day to day and hope the bats show up.

OTOH, none of them scare me if the bats collectively show up the way they have the last six games. When this team hits they can score against anyone. Anyone.

It's such a long season, that saying a 7-3 run is a disappointment seems foolish, but I get your point about needing a spring board. A .700 winning percentage during any 10 game stretch is fantastic. Would I like, as Cholly says, to have the teams chasing us, but you have a cart and a horse. You can only put one in front of the other.

That said, I'm excited by the prospects of this weekend and the rest of the homestand. I'm wondering if the team, will continue to carry hitting season through the rest of this muggy weekend. I'm hoping that if trouble occurs for either starter thsi weekend that a rested bullpen is there to shut things down.

Back to the running the streaks, if the Phillies want to run a one-horse race the rest of the way, they would have to go to on a 10-2 run, or a 13 out of 16 stretch. But at the end of the day, you just have to think about winning the games against the team in the othe dugout.

The key to this weekend is on Monday, the phillies must ask themselves, do you want to be 2.5 games up or just a .5 game up?

@AWH -- Re: Howard's strength... agreed. That homer felt like it was riding a tightrope to the corner.

I don't think Benson scares Myers at all. Brett knows the Phils will stick with him. After all, he's had a history of success as a starter and he's paid a lot of money. You can read that in Charlie's comments, too. When he says the Phils' success this season depends a lot on Brett, he's admitting that they will keep going to the well and hope he can regain his form.

Brett may be a hothead, but he's a competitive hothead. (Did you see how pissed he was when he struck out with the bases loaded?) He wanted to turn it around because he wanted to turn it around - not because of Benson.

I only got the Marlins broadcast last night on Directv. Lucky me. They must've yammered about the size of the ballpark a few hundred times during the broadcast. Enough, already! Before the game started, they did a comparison of each team's second baseman hitting home runs with the announcer's home run calls. First up was Dan Uggla crushing one with both Marlins announcers (play-by-play guy name eludes me and Tommy Hutton) saying in unison as he's trotting round the bases "And they call the man DAN UGGLA" or some such crap. They do this for every Uggla home run. It's like listening to a couple high schoolers who've hijacked the microphone. Then comes Harry's call of one of Utley's blasts in his usual style with 'outta here' wordage. The kiddies and the professional. What a contrast. I miss it when I can't get the Comcast feed.

Another electrifying offensive performance and Myers, awesome after the first inning. And this team hasn't hit full stride yet. Waiting for Howard to get hot along with the others.

If we can win tonights game I'll be breathing easier going into Sunday. With Hamels on the mound you'd thing we'd have a good chance.

i have a funny feeling that if there is a rain delay early in this game, Hamels will not return to the game. Would be a shame because I'd hate to see a bullpen night!

According to ESPN.com power rankings, we are fans of the current second-best team in baseball.

Our OUtfield Quartet of Burrell, Victorino, Werth & Jenkins have combined for a .277 avg, 28 homers and 89 rbi. I'd say our OF platoon is working very well. THe one guy with the worst average (Werth) was touted a few weeks ago as the teams early MVP.

I like the combination and think it compares favorably to any other starting 3 of's in the NL. In fact it brings back memories of '93 when Chamberlain, Thompson, Dykstra, Eisenreich and Inky all had career years.

Actually, Moyer is 7-0 lifetime against the Fish, but you always worry at some point records will be broken. I sure would feel better if Hamels had a big rebound game tonight and made the Fish look like fools swinging themselves into the ground...

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