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Utley & Howard Help Offense Explode For Nine Runs

The middle of the order’s struggles were a large reason why the Phillies were in a month long slump.  With today’s 9-5 victory over the Minnesota Twins, the Phillies have now won three in a row.  They aren’t exactly out of the skid, however they are steps closer to getting out of it.  Production from the middle of the order is a big reason as to why the offense is improving.  Tonight, Chase Utley and Ryan Howard led the charge.

The Phillies immediately got on the board thanks to Utley’s RBI single.  Howard followed with a triple, on a ball that was misplayed by right fielder Jason Kubel.  Jayson Werth added a sacrifice fly, giving the home team a 3-0 advantage.

The runs kept pouring in.  Utley launched a fly ball over the right field wall, only to be followed by a Howard shot in almost the same exact spot.  The back-to-back jacks put the Phillies ahead 8-0, providing plenty of breathing room for Joe Blanton.

Blanton cruised along, surrendering three runs in six innings of work.  He allowed two of those runs to start the seventh inning, before being lifted.  Blanton didn’t exactly dazzle, but he got the job done.  He also received plenty of  help from his defense, especially Utley, who made three web gems.

The first hit Blanton allowed was a triple to Kubel, however he did not put on the brakes.  The third base coach waved Kubel around, trying for the inside-the-park home run.  If not for a perfect relay from Shane Victorino to Utley to Carlos Ruiz, Kubel would have been safe.  Instead, Utley made a perfect throw and Ruiz (who later left due to an injury) applied the tag.

Utley didn’t stop flashing the leather there.  He made a barehanded grab to turn a quick double play.  In addition, he made a tremendous diving stop to take a hit away.  Not only did he do it with the glove, but he did it with the bat, finishing the night with four runs batted in.

Howard, who has lacked power all season, finally had a power surge.  He finished 4-for-4 — all extra base hits.  He homered twice, tripled, and doubled.  He was a single shy of the cycle.

There was never a doubt that the Phillies would hold their lead, although it did get interesting in the ninth inning when Scott Matheison came on in relief.  Matheison surrendered a few runs, but Brad Lidge sealed the deal by getting Joe Mauer to line out to end the game.

The Phillies desperately needed this win.  Perhaps they can carry the momentum, put together a nice winning streak, and put their previous struggles behind.

23 Comments

23 Comments

  1. Ryan H.

    June 19, 2010 at 1:47 am

    howard has lacked power all season long? …… gimme a break. It’s a long season. all this crap about his power numbers is complete nonsense. everybody knows he puts em up in bunches. check back around the third week in september and see what his numbers are.

  2. Nunzio Scholeri

    June 19, 2010 at 1:54 am

    Well-spoken, Ryan H. I try to always remind myself that even at their very best, the Phillies are often a difficult team to watch. They strand runners, they strike out, they have bad slumps now and then… but this current core of players, as we all know, manages to get it done. Tonight they got it done in style.

  3. mark

    June 19, 2010 at 2:50 am

    ……and their still in third place

  4. Greg

    June 19, 2010 at 3:05 am

    Yeah, they’re still in third place, but the Mets and Braves winning streak has to end sometime, and ours has to start, right?

  5. Nunzio Scholeri

    June 19, 2010 at 4:30 am

    Exactly. I believe they can get it done. I don’t think it’ll be pretty, but I think they’ll get it done.

  6. Glutenous

    June 19, 2010 at 4:33 am

    It is so good to see the boys playing well again. I hope they can keep it up. Nice to see Utley hit a bomb and Howard have a multi-bomb game. It would be nice to see them rip off another 5 straight. I would at least settle for a 7 or 8 wins out of ten stretch. Phillies are only 1 game back of their record at this point last year, so even with the struggles, they are right on with the pace. The only problem is that the METS and BRAVES refuse to lose a game. Looking forward to an epic 3 team race in the NL East. I hope the good guys come out on top. Go Phillies!

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  8. Brooks

    June 19, 2010 at 5:37 am

    Final 25 games of the season for the Phils are vs division foes. With the last 6 being away.

    6 games each with the Bravos, Muts and Nats – 7 vs the Stinkin Fish (that includes a home makeup game).

    This should be fun

  9. Brooks

    June 19, 2010 at 5:44 am

    The Phils lead off spot was still vacant (no hits but on base twice, a SB and 2 runs scored), Raul was hitless and Werth did have an RBI but no lumber to speak of – my point is, the offense was carried by Chase and the Big Man – how about when Jimmy comes back, Raul hits (is it going to happen on a consistent basis??) and Jayson lights up again?

    Cole today, early start time – Georgie are you reading?

  10. Chuck

    June 19, 2010 at 7:09 am

    Ryan H… I agree.

    Check out the other thread, “Howard’s Power — or Lack Thereof”

    Like I said on that thread….at the end of the year, Howard’s numbers will be “right there” Some thing like .275-285 BA/ 40ish HRs/ 130-140 RBI.

    People need to R E L A X over this issue already.

  11. Dan

    June 19, 2010 at 9:59 am

    July 31st in going to be a big date for this potential 3 team race.

  12. Ted Bell

    June 19, 2010 at 10:14 am

    The bottom line is that the Phillies are 3-0 since Chase Utley constructed the Voodoo Shrine. Not only that, but the shrine miraculously healed Chase’s career threatening knee injury! And how ’bout that Matheison kid?! He throws like 90,000 miles an hour! Wow!

    I’m Ted Bell.

  13. Dan

    June 19, 2010 at 10:38 am

    I really hope when Jimmy comes back they slot Vic at 6th and not 7th to mazimize speed.

  14. Scott in D.C.

    June 19, 2010 at 11:12 am

    Now, if we could a buy a couple Braves or Mets losses!

  15. Bruce

    June 19, 2010 at 12:11 pm

    @ Ted Bell: The problem with Matheison last night is that he threw fastballs right down the middle. As broadcaster Chris Wheeler reminded, you can not do that with Major League hitters no matter how hard you throw it. Does Matheison have anything else besides a fastball? I can only recalled one offspeed pitch from him.

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  17. Georgie

    June 19, 2010 at 12:15 pm

    haha, Brooks, I just checked csn for the schedule, see they’re on Fox at 4pm. I’ll try to get inside by then, but it’s like my parents trying to get me off the beach in OCNJ back in the day…I was always the last one, catching that last ray of the setting sun. Summer rocks, for so many reasons…..

    GO PHILLIES!

  18. Ted Bell

    June 19, 2010 at 2:20 pm

    Matheison was just designated for assignment…

  19. Ed R.

    June 19, 2010 at 2:28 pm

    So they could bring up a catcher. Maybe Ruiz is more hurt than I initially though.

    I don’t understand this at all. They could have just as easily sent him back down to the minors.

    Now they have to either trade him, release him or hope no one claims him off waivers, which, I can’t see happening. Teams would be stupid not to claim him.

    Did they just give up on the kid based on one performance?

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  23. Leatha Schoefield

    July 19, 2010 at 12:55 am

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