Great game last night. Jimmy Rollins came up huge. In going 4-for-6 at the plate, he drove in both the game-tying and game-winning runs in the Phils extra-inning win over the Reds. In his post-game interview you could hear the sense of relief in his words slowly turn into confidence as the Phils head into the huge weekend series with the Mets. The Phillies recent success and drive towards first place has come about for several reasons. First, the Phillies stars who are healthy, are producing. Hardly a game goes by anymore without a huge hit by Jimmy Rollins, Ryan Howard or Chase Utley – their OPSs in the month of June are astronomical (.859, 1.004, 1.178). The Phillies now also lead the league in runs scored; yet, some think it’s the manager.
Charlie Manuel has been receiving props from a number of print sources lately. Bill Conlin dedicated a column yesterday to Charlie’s skills in crisis management. Todd Zolecki noted today that the skipper was invited by Tony LaRussa to help him coach this year’s NL All-Stars. One thing Manuel should get some credit for is the better use of the team’s speed advantage on the basepaths. The Phillies are tops in the league in stolen base percentage and second only to the Mets in number of successful swipes.
There are more reasons behind the alleged success this month. For the most part, the team has been fortunate to have quality starting pitching, led by ace and All-Star-to-be Cole Hamels. Also, the underperforming players on the team are playing less – another smart managerial move. Burrell is riding the pine – he struck out in a pinch hit appearance last night – and now Jason Werth (.167 in June) is headed to the 15 day DL with a sprained wrist. Chris Coste has been called up to take his place. Rod Barajas has long been eclipsed by Carlos Ruiz who was 2-5 with a double last night.
So you have all these reasons why things have come together in the month of June for the Phillies. One thing I think many people are overlooking is the general slumping of the Mets. Back when the Phillies swept New York, they were in the midst of a 4-18 run to start the month of June. But after sweeping Oakland to end the interleague season, the Mets seems poised the weekend series in Philly. Here’s how the opposing lineups teams fare against each other this season:
|Phillies||AVG v. Mets||Mets||AVG v. Phils|