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Philadelphia Phillies: A Winning Streak

Posted By Adrian Fedkiw On May 16 2012 @ 1:24 am In Philadelphia Phillies | 4 Comments

The Cleveland Indians had won a game, and the next day manager Lou Brown was enthusiastic that his club was ready to “turn things around.”

“We won a game yesterday, we win one today, that’s two in a row, we win one tomorrow, that’s called a winning streak.”

MAJOR LEAGUE II

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DnVrSZHnvYY [1]

For the first time all season, the Philadelphia Phillies have put together a winning streak, – mind it, San Diego and Houston aren’t the best of squads — picking up a win in the finale of a brief two-game set against Houston.

The Phils wasted a splendid outing from Cliff Lee,  the bullpen blew another lead, Hunter Pence made amends, and we did see a glimpse of Jake Diekman – he looked unflappable.

Lee spun eight strong innings, fanned 10 and surrendered a run on five hits and a walk. He hasn’t won a game since September 26 of last season, but he’s done his part as he’s registered a minuscule 1.95 ERA over five starts this year.

The Phils tallied just three total runs though his first three outings – including that 10-inning gem in San Fran – and the pen blew has blown a pair of two-run leads during his two recent appearances.

Lee is 0-1 on the season.

Statistically, the Phillies’ bullpen has been the worst in the National League.  Chad Qualls’ ERA has ballooned to 7.36 over his last nine appearances, Kyle Kendrick just isn’t a reliever, Jose Contreras is coming off an injury and looks rusty, there’s not too many “sure things.”

Antonio Bastardo looks to be a fixture and Jonathan Papelbon has been fine.

But who else will step up?

Last season, we saw Michael Stutes and Bastardo make a name for themselves.  The Phils plucked two relievers from Lehigh Valley this past week, but the one which really caught my eye was Diekman – the other reliever is Raul Valdez.

[2]

He made his MLB debut Tuesday and took the mound in a precaurious spot. With the game tied at 3-3, the side-winding lefty from Nebraska struck out Marwin Gonzalez, who had baserunners on second and third with two outs.

Drafted as a starter with a regular pitching delivery, the farm system asked the young lefty to not only move to the pen but change his arm angle, throw from a lower position.

Diekman was consistently hitting 94-95 on the gun with a heavy sinker that hovered low in the strike zone. His slider was solid, but it was that fastball which caught my attention today and in spring training.  He’ll induce plenty of double-play balls with that sinker.

He set down the Astros in order in the 10th and picked up his first big league win.

Hunter Pence, who goofed in the ninth frame when he bobbled a ball in the outfield as he attempted to throw a runner out at home,  made up for it in the home 10th with a stinging liner that just cleared the wall in left to register Philly’s first walk-off win in 2012. Although the pen blew another one, Pence went and did something about it, showing — as Isuro Tanaka likes to put it – that the team does have some marbles.

Brown continued with his pre-game lecture…”It has happened before, so let’s see some hustle, let’s jack it up a little – or like Peter Laviolette would say, put some jam in it – I have a feeling things are about to turn around for us.”

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The question in Philly when are things going to turn around?

They have a chance to get to .500 with a win Wednesday against the Cubs and Matt Garza, who was dominant in a win against Philly in his last outing against the Phils. And can Kendrick, who’s the game’s probable starter, turn his season around.

It’d be nice to go into that Boston interleague series with some confidence.

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