Interleague play has not been kind to the Fightin Phil’s thus far. After losing 6 in a row, 2 to the Marlins and 4 in a row to the Dodgers, they then took a short bus ride down I-95 to Baltimore to play the upstart Orioles who were occupying first place in the A.L. East for what seems like the first time since about 1996. Since then they have dropped to third place with the Yankees surging and assuming their typical role atop the consistently deep division, but they didn’t play that way against the Phillies. After winning the first game of series 9-6 the Phils dropped the next two, both in extra innings. Game two saw a barrage of homers from the Phillies, Jimmy Rollins, Hector Luna and Jim Thome all went deep. Thome, back from the disabled list also singled later in the game as well. Unlike the homer binge which is unusual for Philadelphia this season, the Phillies committed 4 errors, 3 in fourth inning alone, which has been a problem all season.This game marked the first sell out of the season for the O’s with the crowd split about 50-50 between home town fans and Phillies fans which is typical in Baltimore, a long time vacation spot for Yankee and Red Sox fans looking for cheap and abundant tickets to see their favorite team. Adam Jones would oblige the home fans with a walk off home run to end a slump of his own. The next night saw another close heart breaker for the Phillie’s fans who took the trip to Baltimore. Cliff Lee remained winless which is one of the most mind boggling developments of this season, the Orioles again walked off with another big hit, this time a double by catcher Matt Wieters. The Phillies committed another error and left 10 men on base, going 3-11 with runners in scoring position.
Interleague then took the Fightin Phils to Minnesota where the Phillies dropped the opener in this series, 11-7. Kyle Kendrick took the loss giving up six runs on eight hits. The Phillies left 10 men on base again. The Phillies hung in them game and chipped away at the Twins early 5-0 lead, Jimmy Rollins had four hits and two RBI, but the Phillies couldn’t put together a complete solid game. The Phillies are now 9 ½ games out of first place in the N.L. East while they await the return of Roy Halladay, Ryan Howard and Chase Utley. Despite his once untouchable fan following in Philadelphia some of the Phillies faithful have began to grown impatient with Utley who hasn’t been completely healthy in about 2 and half seasons. The team and he have been fairly vague in their descriptions of his progress and status and some believe the fans have been strung along with false hope. Utley is continuing his rehab assignment and the Phillies could certainly use his bat or at least whatever is left of it to try and secure a playoff spot. They would have to take advantage of the second wild card spot available for the first time this season as the division seems to be about out of reach as June is creeping by. The Phillies have some head scratching issues though that may not be fixed simply by plugging Howard and Utley in the lineup. They have one of the worst home records in MLB, which is odd considering the support the Philadelphia fans provide. That support could also transform into pressure but that didn’t seem to bother the team in the past. They also have been plagued by poor defense and constant errors, which certainly doesn’t help a pitching staff already stretched thin by injury and a struggling offense. Whatever the solution the Phillies are still alive and if they do somehow worm they’re way into the play offs they can still be dangerous in a short series with their starting pitching.
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Written by Tom Bopp