It was another productive week in the books for your Philadelphia Fightin’ Phillies.
After the off day on Monday, the Phillies hosted the D-Backs for a three game set. Arizona came into the series seemingly out of playoff contention and they sure did play like it.
Tuesday, The Phillies goat a combined one-run effort from both Pedro Martinez and Jaime Moyer. Martinez allowed a D-Backs lead-off homer but settled in, pitching three strong innings. Then the rains came, forcing the teams into a delay too lengthy for Martinez to return. Moyer entered the game after the delay and pitched six scoreless and the Phils took the opener, 5-1.
On Wednesday, the Phillies faced Arizona’s ace Dan Haren for the second time this season. Just like their previous meeting, the Phillies forced Haren to throw pitches early and tagged the Cy Young candidate up for six runs in five innings of work. Cliff Lee notched his second complete game win as a Phillie, taking a no-hitter into the sixth inning, giving up just one unearned run via a Pedro Feliz error and a couple of sacrifices.
The line-up busted out the whooping sticks against Haren, totaling four bombs in the game, including two from Jayson Werth.
Thursday, Joe Blanton got the nod for the Phils and had been red-hot over the last seven weeks. Over that span however, run support had been hard to come by for Blanton. That is, until the series finale.
Although Blanton didn’t put forth his best outing, the Phillies bats carried Blanton to a 12-3 victory, completing the sweep of the Diamondbacks.
Blanton ate his innings, going eight strong, allowing three earned. It was a strong effort by Blanton, but the ten hits he surrendered showed that he looked shaky at times. The offense was the antithesis of shaky as they once again erupted at the dish scoring 12 runs on 12 hits. Even more amazing is despite the 12 runs the Phils scored, they still left seven men on base. Werth again provided the power, going deep again and was joined by Carlos Ruiz and Ryan Howard.
Friday the Phillies went north to embark on a seven-game road trip that kicked off in New York.
It was obvious from the start that despite the Mets free-fall into obscurity there was absolutely no love lost between the two clubs. Pitchers were throwing heat inside all-night, and Cole Hamels even managed to plunk counterpart Mike Pelfry, forcing Pelfry to weave a fine tapestry of obscenities en-route to his free bag.
Unfortunately for Hamels, that was the only productive thing he managed Friday as he surrendered four earned on his way to his eighth loss of the season.
Hamels looked frustrated early and never really found his rhythm as the Mets tagged him for ten hits including a Jeff Francoeur moon-shot deep to left field. His location was off all night, and when the umpires weren’t giving Hamels the strike calls, it appeared to affect him. The offense never really showed up either and the Mets clawed out the win against their division foes.
Saturday, the Phillies turned the table on the Mets, beating them 4-1. Although Mets starter Tim Redding befuddled the Phils through the first five innings, he was pulled to start the sixth and the Phillies instantly got to the Mets dreadful middle-relief. Chase Utley homered to give the Phillies a 2-1 advantage in the sixth and the Phillies never looked back.
Phillies starter J.A. Happ looked solid again, giving up just one earned run in seven innings of work. More impressive was that Happ walked just two batters, a welcome change from his previous two starts where he combined to walk ten.
He earned his 10th win of season and is looking every bit the part of a Rookie of the Year. The real unfortunate thing for Happ is that if he had a few more starts to begin the season, we may also be mentioning him in the Cy Young conversation. His ERA lowered to a ridiculous 2.59 in the win.
The Phillies will face the Mets on Sunday and Monday before heading to Pittsburgh for three.
Despite their 4-1 record this week and 8-2 record in their last ten, there is cause for slight concern.
Raul Ibanez is still struggling mightily at the plate. He had a double last night, but as of Saturday had just seven hits in his last 45 at bats. He is hitting just .228 in his last 30 days.
Also, Matt Stairs has been as cold as Saskatchewan in January, having taken the doughnut in his last 21 at-bats. He hasn’t registered a hit in the last month. Couple that with a slight calf strain from Greg Dobbs and that spells troubles for your left-handed bats off of the bench. Dobbs’ injury appears to be minor, but a claf injury can be tricky so stay tuned for more information on that.
It was a good week for the Phillies, don’t get me wrong, however, there were some alarming trends that continued over the week, including Hamels poor performance, that if the Phillies don’t find a remedy for, it will be a short lived October. Timely hitting is key and the Phillies are still having problems in that department.