Phillies Semi-Weekly Report Card #5

Record since last Report Card: 5-2

Overall Record: 19-12 (1st in division)

After a hot start to the season, the Phils were 7-9 in their previous 16 games coming into this week.  Although the offense hadn’t been great, the pitching was the main culprit.  That changed this week.  The starting pitchers, in particular, had an incredible week, and the bullpen also bounced back from a rough stretch.

Position Players: An up-and-down week with the bats, but fairly solid for the most part.  Jayson Werth continues to rake, with 8 extra base hits on the week (3 HR, 5 2B).  He’s hitting .349 on the season, slugging .688, and the dollar signs in his eyes keep getting bigger.  He’s just become such a lethal hitter.  In the 1st inning on Thursday, he came to bat with two runners on-base.  With the count 1-2, Kyle Lohse threw him an excellent slider that broke off the outside of the plate, and Werth just watched it go for a ball.  The next pitch, he took an outside fastball the opposite way for a 3-run homer.  STUD.

The Hit of the Week Award goes to Carlos Ruiz, who hit a walk-off homer to beat the Cards 2-1 on Tuesday night. A couple pitches before the homer, Carlos hit the longest ball I’ve ever seen him hit, but it went just foul down the left-field line.  Maybe the most shocking stat of the season so far: Carlos is leading the NL in on-base percentage (.465), and by 20 points! In other catcher news (and obligatory injury news), Brian Schneider hit the DL with a strained leg muscle, so journeyman Paul Hoover will backup Carlos for the next two weeks.

Defensively, Shane Victorino deserves a mention for the best catch I’ve seen by a Phillie yet this season, on a full-out sprint to deep right-center, he made a full extension grab a few feet in front of the wall.  All in all, a pretty run-of-the-mill week for this offense, but they did get the job done when they needed to, for the most part.

Grade: B-

Starting Pitchers:  This group was absolutely the story of the week, and it was certainly a welcome sight.  During themoyer four-game winning streak from Tuesday to Friday, they had one of the best string of starts you’ll see.  Cole Hamels started it off with a dominating effort, taking a shut-out into the 9th inning before giving up a run and exiting the game.  You could tell he was poised for a good game just from looking at his stuff.  His fastball hit 95 a few times, and the change-up was nearly unhittable.  I’m almost afraid to say this, but he looked like the ’08 Cole.

The next night, Kyle Kendrick was pitching to keep his rotation spot, and all he did was pitch 7 shutout innings in a 4-0 win.  Then came Doc Halladay’s turn and he provided your standard Halladay start: 7 innings, 2 runs (only 1 earned), and 9 strikeouts.  His 6 wins are tied for the league lead.  One thing I’ve learned about Halladay is that, as mild-mannered as he seems normally, he is fiery when he’s out on the mound.  It was the second straight start where he was really jawing at the ump and shaking his head when he didn’t get strike calls.  It seems like the umps have respect for him though.  After the incident in this game, he was talking to the ump after the inning and they were both laughing.

The final start in the stretch was the best of the bunch, as 47-year-old Jamie Moyer became the oldest pitcher in ML history to pitch a shutout.  Not only was it a shutout, but he also gave up just two hits (both singles) and no walks, in a complete dismantling and domination of the Braves offense.  As you’d expect, it was just Moyer at his best, keeping hitters off-balance all game and not letting them get the barrell on the ball.  The final tally for the starters in that 4-game stretch: 31 innings, 2 earned runs.  That’s how you get on winning streaks, I guess.

Aside from those four starts, Joe Blanton made his first two starts of the season and looked pretty good both times, even though he took two losses.  They were definitely encouraging starts though.

Grade: A

Bullpen:  Considering what the starters did, there wasn’t much of a workload for this bunch, but they did an excellent job when they got the chance.  After Nelson Figueroa gave up two runs in Monday’s loss, the relievers only gave up one more run the rest of the week.  Brad Lidge came into Tuesday’s game in the 9th inning with a man on 2nd and no outs, and the game tied 1-1.  He looked really good in getting three straight outs and keeping it tied.  Jose Contreras, who’s ERA on the season is now under 1, pitched a scoreless 10th inning and got the win.

Lidge didn’t pitch again until Sunday, when had a 1-2-3 9th for the save.  So, he’s taken back his closer role, which is great.  His fastball velocity looks good, and the slider seems to be improving and, hopefully, building back to where it was in ’08. And Contreras is definitely the main set-up man for the time being.  Chad Durbin also continues to pitch well.

Grade: A-

Up Next: The team hits the road for six games in Colorado and Milwaukee.  Phils starters for the Rockies series, starting tonight, will be Kendrick-Halladay-Moyer.  Halladay will be pitching in his hometown for the first time in his career.

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