Saturday, September 24, 2005

Bell Hits Bomb!

You doubted David Bell?

David Bell might have hit the most important home run in recent Phillies history last night- almost immediately after I swore, quit on the season, and shut the game off in disgust. The Phillies gave up nine unanswered runs, blowing a 6-1 lead in the fifth. I am sure the entire Delaware Valley was shocked to wake up and to find that Chase Utley (3-run home run with none out) and David Bell (2-run home run with two out) probably saved the Phillies season with their blasts.

With Houston spitting the bit last night, the Phillies have cut the lead to one thin game. Both teams have to a little frustrated. Since being swept by the Astros a few weeks ago, the Phillies have won ten of fourteen, five of seven against the Braves, four of six versus the Marlins- but made up no ground on the Astros. The Astros obviously have played well too- but have not separated their club from the fighting Phillies.

Due to the division-heavy scheduling in September, the Phillies last 25 games presented a much harder climb than the Astros. But they survived the brutal thirteen in a row against the Marlins and Braves- losing only a game to Houston in the process- and getting it back promptly last night against the Reds. I thought the Phillies needed at least fifteen wins over this last 25- which seemed pretty impossible. They’ll probably actually need sixteen to guarantee at least forcing a play-off. But they are 10-7 during the stretch now- and 6-2 does seem hard- but maybe, just maybe do-able.

The starting pitching has been bolstered by Leiber’s outstanding month- decent to okay outings by the rest- some quality spot starts from rookies- and an admittedly fading bullpen still churning out quality at least late in games. Give Wagner the money for two years please. Rollins is on fire- which shows again how potent this Phillies offense could be with a real lead-off hitter- rather than having one only the eight weeks a year Rollins is hot.

The schedule still favors Houston- but obviously it does ease considerably for the Phillies. The Reds, Mets (no Pedro probably) and Nats (probably done by then- but tricky regardless) are a better slate than two more weeks of Marlins/Braves. And Clemens will miss his next start.

The Phils get Eric Milton tonight- who has been horrible lately. Brito makes the biggest start of his rookie campaign in a huge spot. Houston is a big dog on the road this afternoon- getting the steady C. Zambrano from Chicago. Big day for the Phils- as a good result means the magic number goes up again tomorrow.