Monday, August 15, 2005

Watch Out Atlanta. Here Come the Phils!

The Phillies and Tony Stewart “smoked” there way through mendacious and desultory opposition. Get out of our way! Okay, San Diego doesn’t hit much and Jeff Gordon got a flat tire. But the Phils outstanding 5-1 trip- marked down only a bit because neither Los Angeles nor San Diego is exactly good- pulled them with ½-game of the Astros. See- the Astros also don’t hit much.

The Phils jumped on two less-than-pedestrian outfits. It is a pretty easy game when you both have four guys going good in the rotation and score eight-plus runs three times a week.

No real tremendous insights frankly. As I wrote a few weeks ago, the Phils are an easy team to read. Since just before the all-star break, the Phils have steadily given themselves a chance to win most nights.

True, they haven’t ripped off any six game win streaks. They just aren't that good. However, they come to the ballpark predictably expecting, and then giving themselves a dependable chance from the mound, to win more often than not. The rotation cycles as expected, the bullpen frequently dictates- and with Howard in there, the core of the line-up is a decent plus- rather than a frustrating minus. Manuel, after months of idiocy, has begun to read my blog and do some little things that help: find excuses to play Michaels and Pratt, the civic population should be given every opportunity to see Urbina daily, etc. And since the Phils are only being asked to win 90 games, rather than 97, that is all they are being asked to do: win a little more than you lose, get your four games a week.

So through this first of two segments of 25 games to finish the season, Philadelphia starts 5-1. The Nats come in now- followed by Pittsburgh. The Nats have picked themselves up off the deck- after laying there like gut fish for almost a month. Washington has played okay for about five/six days- not long enough to determine if their turnaround is legit or merely a “dead cat” bounce. The ballpark is also not a friendly one to the Nats. You need to score, and can score against good pitching, at Citizens. But the Nats just don’t hit much. Unlike the flush Phillies, the Nats are completely devoid of guys with warning track power- i.e. the type of player Citizens Bank Park justly rewards.

Why yes Nationals fans! You do get Meyers tonight! During this seven-game homestand, with Meyers starting the first four-game set, Lidle only pitching once, followed by an immediate 12-game road swing- you’d like to see the Phils get both series outright. But, 5-2 is an aggressive mark in baseball. They probably have to win tonight- Meyers v. Hernandez (who has been frankly a sort of a mess lately)- to have a realistic shot at five. But if they can get there, they probably lead the wild card race heading out west again.