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Phillies Winning; Offense Sliding

At 10-4, the Phillies must feel pretty good about themselves. They haven’t lost a series yet after splitting a rain-shortened two-game set with the Marlins over the weekend. Nats, Braves, Astros, no problem. Cliff Lee is dealing, as is Roy Halladay. Cole Hamels shook off the rust from an ugly first start putting together excellent outings in his last two.

Really, the problem has not been the pitching staff. Forget about the blown game against the Marlins on Friday night in which JC Romero and Danys Baez gave up runs after Roy Oswalt departed with an injury. Look to the offensive issues as a reason more pressure is being put on the arms.

Through the first eight games of the season, the Phillies offense averaged seven runs per game. Everything clicked during the 6-2 jump off as they put up a 10 spot followed by an 11 spot against the Mets.

Since, the Phillies have gone 4-2, but have done so on the back of outstanding starting pitching. In those six games, their runs per game sunk to just 3.3.

Many of the bats have cooled considerably, which was to be expected after such a torrid start to the year. However, a major problem is the Phillies lack of patience at the plate. Having drawn a walk just 33 times this year – good enough for dead last in the National League – the offense is swinging a little too freely. To be fair, they’ve also struck out the fewest amount of times in the league (77, or 13 less than the Marlins, go figure).

Countless times, Victorino and Rollins – the two usual suspects – will swing at the first or second pitch and roll it over to second base. It’s maddening to witness an exceptional lineup play with a disregard for situational hitting. A guy like Placido Polanco, who has never taken many walks or pitches during a long, yet productive career as a slap hitter, is exempt from the guilt here. Polly’s game is to hit the ball the other way, it’s what he gets paid to do. The others? Not so much.

In the absence of Jayson Werth, an 80-plug walk player in back-to-back seasons in 2008 and 2009, other players need to at least try to take over that role. In the three-hole, J-Roll must be more selective.

I know I often get on Victorino and Rollins for their inability to draw walks, but now is the time for them to stoke the lineup by getting on base by any means. If they do, that could be the elixir to cure what ails them. You’re probably thinking, well, it’s not that bad. They are 10-4.

But if last year taught us and the Phillies anything, it’s not to rest on your laurels. Prolonged slumps ravaged this team in the past and they will again in the future. Unless they’re smart about it.

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  1. Tim

    April 18, 2011 at 10:04 am

    I can’t even count the amount of money I have won betting on Rollins popping out first pitch when we watch at work. Jimmy’s flying out isnt good but it’s not as bad as Shane striking out on terrible pitches when he hesitated after fouling off a good pitch trying kill. It just hurts to watch him sometimes.

  2. Pat Gallen

    April 18, 2011 at 10:11 am

    It can be unbelievably frustrating.

    Against Atlanta, Victorino had some great at-bats against Derek Lowe. I often wonder why he can’t look back on tape and tweak his game to the things that seem to work for him.

  3. Lefty

    April 18, 2011 at 10:46 am

    Jimmy absolutely drives me up a wall sometimes, Shane not so much. Kind of like my kids, I love them but they know which buttons to push. Had Jimmy just moved the runners in the fifth Friday night, two would have scored on Ibanez single instead of just Victorino.

    That said, I’m not too worried about the offense in general, with this staff we will grind out games. Tom Singer of MLB says we’re resilient. I think (hope) he’s right.

    “In their run of four consecutive National League East titles, the Phillies have garnered plaudits on numerous fronts: General manager Ruben Amaro Jr.’s ability to always get his man, manager Charlie Manuel’s rapport with his players, the team’s savvy for motivating players (Jayson Werth, Shane Victorino) to new levels, and so on.

    Seldom does the Phillies’ resilience get equal billing, but once again it may be time to applaud their knack for grinding through obstacles.

    While the preseason loss of their closer (and starting second baseman) would distress and derail many teams, here again are the Phillies at 10-4, one of the best early-season records in the Majors.”

  4. Pat Gallen

    April 18, 2011 at 12:01 pm

    Count me in as among those in the worried category. All the signs are the same as last season, when they were impatient (excpet for Werth).

  5. Brooks

    April 18, 2011 at 2:50 pm

    The main reason not to worry though is the pitching. If the Phils are going to slump offensively, then the weight can drop on the starters shoulders. We have the horses this year.

    That being said, I would feel terrible if a 1/2 season long slump would swallow up the offense again – not ready for that – like it did last year.

    From worried to sick!

  6. tyROBasaurus

    April 18, 2011 at 3:09 pm

    The offense is looking exactly as it did during the playoffs last season: tons of guys left on base, a complete dearth of power and catching a few breaks with unearned runs by way of errors. And Howard looks like he’s moved way off the plate again. That’s the Phils, though. They either score 7 runs or struggle to score 2 earned runs a game

  7. Brooks

    April 18, 2011 at 3:41 pm

    Does anyone know where I could find geeky records like the most Phillies wins in the Month of April – not even Google gives me that

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