Phillies Semi-Weekly Report Card #4

Record since last Report Card: 3-3

Overall Record: 14-10 (1st in division)

Well, it was a third consecutive 3-3 week, but last week was fairly uneventful, while this week was not.  Off the field, Ryan Howard became the sports story of the week after signing his 5 year, $125 million extension.  Also, the injury news kept coming.  Ryan Madson hit the DL with a broken toe after blowing a save and kicking a chair, and J-Roll and Happ both had their return dates pushed back.  On the plus-side, Brad Lidge returned and Joe Blanton will be back this week.

howardOn the field, there was also plenty of news.  It looked like Jayson Werth might’ve sparked a turnaround from the lackluster play, when he hit a three-run double to tie the Giants in the 9th inning on Wednesday.  The Phils won it in 11 innings.  But those hopes were dashed with an all-around ugly loss to the Mets on Friday.  The team sat 1.5 games back from the Mets at that point.  But, Mr. Halladay and the bats came to the rescue, with Halladay posting another shut-out on Saturday and the offense putting double-digit run totals both Saturday and Sunday to take 1st place back.

Position Players:  The offense certainly delivered a message loud and clear to the upstart Mets, putting up 21 runs combined in two games started by the Mets top-2 pitchers.  We should really see these things coming from this team at this point.  And while we’re on the subject, the baseball world really over-reacted to Mike Pelfrey’s hot start and 27 inning scoreless streak.  Not that Tim McCarver is the voice of reason, but he referred to Pelfrey as “almost a #1 starter” on Saturday.  Let’s see the guy do it for more than a couple weeks in a row before we hand him a Cy Young, Ok?

The Phils other win of the week came in a game started by Tim Lincecum, though he did pretty much shut them down.  Oddly though, they were dominated by Todd Wellemeyer and Jonathan Niese.  Aside from Werth’s double, the other hit of the week was Victorino’s grand slam on Sunday night, that put the Phils up 8-5.  The guy has a knack for the big hit. 

That 4th inning was one of the best regular season innings I’ve ever seen.  It deserves a quick recap.  With two outs, Utley was on second and the Phils were down 5-2.  Singles from Ibanez and Castro were followed by a Ruiz walked to load the bases.  Then Jamie Moyer came up, and it became pretty clear that Santana just couldn’t find the strike zone.  The fans went crazy the whole at bat, in a scene reminiscent of Brett Myers’s walk against the Brewers in the ’08 NLDS.  And just like that Myers walk, this one was followed by a Victorino Slam against one of the best lefties in the game.  And they weren’t done.  Polanco singled and then Utley hit a moon shot into the right-field seats.  If the Bank had a roof, it would’ve blown off at that point.  They added ANOTHER run for good measure on a Werth double.  10 runs off Johan Santana, 9 runs in the inning, all with two outs.  Just incredible.

Having said all that, our grade for the week will have to take into account the three games when the offense couldn’t get anything going at all.  Other quick notes:  Victorino didn’t run out a dropped strike three on Friday.  He’s forgiven after the Slam.  Great to see Howard and Ibanez get big hits off lefties.  Juan Castro continues to deliver timely hits.

Grade: B-

Starting Pitchers:  As brilliant as Halladay was on Saturday, it was the only outing that resembled a quality start on the week.  The most amazing thing about that shutout though:  through 4 innings, he was at about 72 pitches.  That means over the final five innings, he threw 46 pitches and didn’t allow a hit.  I wonder if the umpire was intimidated by him, because he was really barking at him as he came off the mound after the 4th.

Other than that though, it was mediocrity, at best, from the Phillie starters, including Halladay’s first start of the week, when he gave up 5 runs to the anemic Giants offense.  The other members of the rotation pretty much went out there and gave up their 4 or 5 runs in 5 or 6 innings.

Grade: C+

Bullpen:  Another poor week for this group.  The highlight came on Sunday night, when they managed 3 scoreless innings in a no-pressure situation.  It was surprising that they didn’t get Lidge out there in that spot.  He made his debut on Friday night, and promptly surrendered a homer.  Other than that: a poor outing from Durbin on Tuesday.  Madson blows the save on Wednesday, and Figueroa very nearly blows it again an inning later (only an outstanding play from Brian Schneider saved the lead).  And Danys Baez got shelled for four runs on Friday.  Now Madson is on the shelf for a month, and the concern is building, but we still have to see how this situation shakes out.  There is time.

Grade: D

Ahead This Week:  Joe Blanton makes his season debut tonight as the Cards come to town for 4 games.  They’ll miss Chris Carpenter in the series.

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