141 games played. 47-28 home. 34-32 road. 81-60 overall. 17 different players on the DL. 20 games with complete starting lineup intact. 112 straight sellouts at CBP. A four game sweep of NL West leading San Diego just a week after a four game sweep at home at the hands of the hapless Houston Astros. One hitting coach (Milt Thompson) dismissed as a scapegoat for offensive problems, replaced by another coach (Greg Gross) yet most of the offensive woes remain (ranked 15th in team BA, 11th in MLB in runs scored, averaging 4.65 RPG ).
Ace Roy Halladay has 17 wins and a 2.36 ERA but averages run support of just under 2 runs per game. Cole Hamels is 10-10 but needs to toss 25 scoreless innings to reach .500 because he’s averaging run support of about 1.5 per game. Ryan Howard still has more days on the DL than HR this season. Just this weekend, the Phils lackluster offense phoned in the first game of a doubleheader, losing 7-1. In the nightcap, they jumped all over Florida pitching, salvaging a 7-4 win and a split. Three game win streak heading in to New York. One game lead over Atlanta in NL East standings (though Atlanta leads the wildcard standings by 1 game). 21 games remain – all against NL East teams but it really could come down to 6 games head-to-head against Atlanta (including the final 3 games of the regular season which will be played in Atlanta). Call 2010 what you will but it appears to be a numbers game. When you add it all up, we’ll see if the Phillies win a fourth straight NL East flag, their third National League pennant and third trip to the World Series in 4 years. Anyone betting on the odds of a second World Series trophy in 3 years???
Pundits have begun to compare this 2010 Phillies effort with all of their injury problems to 2007. Seven games back of the New York Mets (MESS?) in September with 17 games left to play – they win the NL East for the first time since 1993. With all due respect to the current crop of Phillies and their effort to overcome adversity en route to another playoff push, I have to defer to the 2007 team in terms of getting the most out of less talent. That group never made it to the World Series (they got blown out of the water by the surprise Colorado Rockies in the Division Series) but they bridged a 7-game gap and overtook the Mets in 17 days, resembling a certain (previously) “historic” collapse in 1964. Putting that ghost to bed and proving that the Phillies were on the verge of a Renaissance paved the way for the 2008 World Series championship and a return to the Fall Classic in 2009. Now we seem to expect the Phillies to win while 4 years ago we were going nuts over the prospect of Jimmy Rollins predicting success. I’d also like to point out that the 2007 bunch went 89-73 (892 runs, 5.5 RPG) without the services of Brad Lidge, Roy Halladay, Roy Oswalt, Placido Polanco, Raul Ibanez or Joe Blanton. Their starting pitchers for that magical September run were Cole Hamels, Jamie Moyer, Adam Eaton, Kyle Kendrick and Kyle Lohse (Freddy Garcia and Jon Lieber also accepted paychecks that year). Their bullpen was bereft of relief led by Brett Myers (who turned into a World-beater as the surprise closer), Geoff Geary, Ryan Madsen, Antonio Alfonseca, J.A. Happ, Clay Condrey and J.C. Romero). What lineup produced 892 runs? SS Jimmy Rollins, RF Shane Victorino, 2B Chase Utley, 1B Ryan Howard, LF Pat Burrell (.256, 30 HR, 97 RBI), CF Aaron “Wallbanger” Rowand (.309, 27 HR), C Carlos Ruiz (.259, 6 HR, 54 RBI) and a platoon at 3B consisting of Abraham Nunez (.234), Greg Dobbs (.272, 10 HR), Wes Helms (.246), Tad Iguchi (.304). Also on that bench were Russell Branyan (.222), Jayson Werth (.298, 8 HR, 49 RBI in 255 AB), Chris Coste (.279 in 129 AB) and Michael Bourn (.277 in 119 AB). THAT was the group who overtook the Mets, erasing a 7 game lead in 17 games. That was the nucleus of what would become the 2008 World Champion Phillies. The Champs of 2008 would retool for a 92-70 campaign, adding Pedro Feliz, Geoff Jenkins, Brad Lidge, Eric Bruntlett, Matt Stairs, Joe Blanton and Scott Eye. They also returned Brett Myers to the starting rotation and had Jayson Werth play 134 games.
Despite the fact that it took them 3-1/2 months, the Phillies are back in the proverbial driver’s seat. Three aces (call them H2O or just Halladay, Hamels & Oswalt), a few questions regarding the #5 starter (Blanton is firmly entrenched at #4) and in the bullpen but all hands are on deck for the final month of the 2010 regular season. One game up on Atlanta with 21 to play, 6 head-to-head…and Jimmy Rollins blows a tire! Mind you, he’s listed as “day-to-day” with a tight hamstring. Charlie Manuel has indicated Rollins was affected by dehydration and that he (Rollins) had been feeling under the weather. Ruben Amaro indicates that Rollins is making progress and that “he (Amaro) doesn’t think it is a long term issue.” Neither Manuel nor Amaro have PhD or medical degrees but both know that Rollins had just started to swing the bat better over his previous 3 games (going 5 for 9 with 2 RBI & 3 runs scored). Let’s hope that some rest and recuperation will allow Jimmy to be rejuvenated for the stretch run and let’s hedge our bets with whatever higher powers that be to hope nothing else goes wrong!!!
Go Phils (very carefully)!!!! Is that a black cat walking under a ladder??
About the Author
Written by Christopher Rowe
Contributing writer Comcast Sports, NY Times contributing stringer 1996-2000, Contributing writer Yahoo Sports (2001 World Series). Contributing writer Newsday Long Island (1992-1994, Jets Training Camp) and Newak Star Ledger. Freelance Copywriter, Editor/Founder Atlantic Times Weekly (1993-2003) fantasy football magazine, produced screenwriter and general humorist. Hofstra University grad, Marist College honorary alum, Salesian; Purveyor of the Value and Valor of Philadelphia Eagles 1960 NFL Championship; Adrent believer that Eagles could have won Super Bowl XV...and Super Bowl XXXIX...plus modern decade of Eagles 5 NFC Championships... Believer in the Broad Street Bullies and the 1983 Sixers... Witness to Philadelphia Phillies World Series championships 1980 & 2008, Suffered Phillies first pro sports team to reach 10,000 losses,witnessed "1980 Cardiac Kids," 1983 "Wheeze Kids," 1993 "Macho Row" and many, many, many not-so-memorable seasons in-between... until the Philadelphia Baseball Renaissance of 21st Century, Five NL East division titles 2007-2011, 3 NLCS appearances 2008-2010, 2 consecutive World Series berths 2008 & 2009. 2008 World Champions of baseball [miss ya Harry and Richie]; "collector" of MLB ballparks (42 stadiums including 15 which are gone); Fantasy Football & Baseball player since 1992. Always a sports fan... Tenui Nec Dimittam Contact me firstname.lastname@example.org