Over the last few weeks, it seems that every team the Phillies play. There is some kind of story about a players return home. First it was Howard returning to his hometown of St. Louis, then it was Raul Ibanez returning to the town he spent parts of ten seasons in and now Roy Halladay will return to the city that loves him as much as we do. This weekend the Phillies will play their final interleague series of the year against the Toronto Blue Jays. The main moment these two franchises share is the forgettable thing that happened in 1993. We still love you Mitchie Poo! Hopefully the Phillies are able to inflict some revenge on our actual neighbors to the North.
Philadelphia phans have always had a strong dislike for anything that is Boston. The two cities have had a huge sports rivalry before most phans were even born. Whether it was the 76ers/Celtics battles in the early 80’s or the recent playoffs series between the Flyers and the Bruins or the super bowl between the Eagles and the Patriots (Foxborough but close enough), there is no love lost between Bean Town and the City of Brotherly Love. The Phillies and Red Sox never got the chance to have a rivalry until interleague play began a few years ago but the Red Sox are far from a popular team in Philadelphia.
Last night was not the best night to be a Phillies phan. After a dominating performance by Lee the night before, it was evident from the start that there was something wrong with Oswalt. The Phillies didn’t just lose 12-2; they may have lost one of their four aces for a significant period of time. Roy Oswalt left last night’s game because of a back injury after giving up 4 runs in just two innings. He is scheduled to undergo an MRI on Monday and his 2nd DL trip this season looks inevitable. Oswalt has had his fare share of back injuries in the past and his post game comments didn’t calm any fears the Philly Phaithful had about his future with the team.
What word comes to mind when you think of the 2011 Phillies? First? Streaky? Best? Dominate? Unsure? Panic? What will come to mind after the fact when we talk about the 2011 Phillies? All my hopes and dreams tell me that we will be talking about once again the World Champion Philadelphia Phillies. The bats will have to do a better job of backing up that title talk if my dreams are going to become reality.
The weekend series against the Mariners is a microcosm of the Phillies season, they received the starting pitching to win all 3 games but the bats were not able to score enough runs to put them on top They knew it was going to be a tough series before they left for Seattle and that is exactly what they received over the weekend. Seattle’s great pitching dominated the Phillies bats in two of the 3 games. Thanks to the 4 RBI’s from Victorino on Saturday night, they were able to beat the reigning AL Cy Young winner Felix Hernandez. I think that Charlie should have used the designated hitter to give his regulars a some days off. But Charlie is the type of manager who tries to put his best team on the field as much as he can and has never enjoyed giving his regulars any rest.
The Phillies offense has finally started to come alive and we are beginning to see how good this team can be. After taking the final 3 games from the Cubs over the weekend, they took all four games from the slumping Fish. With the talent the Phillies have in the starting rotation, they will obviously not need to be the powerhouse offensively that they were in 08 and 09. There record when they score four or more runs in staggering. The Phillies have now won 7 in a row and still hold the best record in baseball with a 44-26 record. They are 5 games ahead of the Braves in the division and are 4.5 games ahead of the Giants for the best record in the National League. The Phillies now head to the Pacific Northwest to play 3 games with the Seattle Mariners.
Thursday night’s game was one of the most frustrating regular season games I have witnessed over the last few years. The Phillies took a 3 run lead into the rain delay and then barely seemed to show up when the game resumed about an hour later. It wasn’t the fact that they lost the game; it was how they lost the game. But the great news with this team is there is always the next day and 4/5 of the time, there will be an ace waiting to take the ball. The following 3 days were filled with the dominating starting pitching that this team possesses. Halladay, Lee and Oswalt went 3-0 and gave up a combined 4 runs in their 22 inning of work. Their great performances allowed the Phightin’s to take 3 of the 4 games from the Cubs.
There’s something about a phan who supports their city, their teams, and their players regardless of wins or losses. At times it may be mixed in with some tough love but that love is genuine and true. A people that stand behind their city, one city that they represent and call home. They didn’t choose to love these teams or city, they were born into it. It was a rite of passage passed on down from generation to generation. Listening to stories about Chuck Bednarik and the Whiz Kids from your grandpa. It’s in the DNA.
It doesn’t seem that long ago that the Phillies had one of the most feared lineups in all of baseball and we just hoped we could get enough pitching to get by. Now in just a short period of time, that logic has done a 180. This is now a team who hopes they can scratch together enough ones to get one of their great starters the victory. The Phillies entered today’s game 9th in the National League in runs, 10th in batting average, and 9th in homeruns. This has caused a lot of tension among the Philly Phaithful as they turn to Ruben Amaro for some help.
It’s easy to get lost in the shuffle of Philadelphia aces, even for a former World Series MVP. Cole Hamels has wasted no time this season stating his case for top ace. After another dominating performance Wednesday night vs. the Dodgers Hamels inked his 8th win of the season, tying the Major League lead. Hamels threw 8 innings of shutout baseball, allowing six hits, no walks while striking out nine.