I don’t know what’s tougher to watch, Ben Francisco as our everyday right fielder or seeing Doc throw a complete game yet again and still coming up with the loss. As the season continues to progress there have been some clear signs of what this team is capable of and also some clear signs of where this team needs some help. The positives still remain: Chase is returning soon, the young arms in the pen have been a great surprise, Mayberry should be our every day right fielder, Dom Brown is still a second half option, and Cliff Lee hasn't even touched on what he is capable of.
The injuries just seem to pile up day after day. As soon as one returns another one goes down. Shane Victorino left Saturday’s game with a right hamstring injury and will miss his second straight game tonight in St. Louis. According to Ruben Amaro Jr. he doesn’t think that the Flyin’ Hawaiian will make a stint on the DL. This just days after catcher Brian Schneider was sent to the DL for a hamstring strain. It seems as if Dom Brown’s recovery has also taken another blow.
With more injury news comes more relief news as Chooch recently rejoined the team and Ace Roy “Country” Oswalt set to rejoin the team Tuesday night in St. Louis for his first start since April 26th. Young pitcher Vance Worley has been optioned to triple-A Lehigh Valley to make room for Oswalt. Worley who has pitched well with the big club was sent down mainly to keep fresh incase of any more rotation injuries.
I have already been unsuccessful in my quest to attend every dollar dog night of the season but then again I have never been one to down a record 12 dogs. There is a perfectly good reason why they only cost $1!
Although the series didn’t turn out in our favor the weekend series in Atlanta was definitely worth the watch for the throwback uniforms. The Negro League jerseys worn on Saturday with Phila Stars across the chest and the high socks started it all off. They finished out the series on Sunday with the classic blue jerseys from 1974. Although uncomfortable for a lot of players it is always cool to see the classic jerseys from the past. I personally was not a phan of the Negro League hats that resembled the Pittsburgh Pirate P all too much.
With Chase Utley still out and Victorino sidelined the lineup has seen its share of shuffling. Tonight’s game vs. St. Louis will see Wilson Valdez at third, Polly taking an off day, John Mayberry in center, and Pete Orr at second.
The Cardinals will pose a tough two-game set for the Phillies as they lead the NL in runs, batting average, on-base percentage, doubles, total bases, and OPS. Lee tonight and Oswalt Tuesday will face righty Jake Westbrook tonight and lefty Jamie Garcia on Tuesday night at Busch Stadium.
With J-May’s two run homerun day on Sunday he keeps popping up as a legitimate everyday player for Charlie Manuel in right field. Because of the injury to Victorino he will get another start tonight, this time in center field.
Francisco is batting a measly .222 for the year. In the last ten games Cisco has two hits with zero runs batted in. It has become clear that Cisco is not an everyday type of player that I myself had hoped he would blossom into with more AB’s. Mayberry deserves to have a shot at playing every day in right field. He seems to be making quite a case for it, and hopefully tonight he can prove his case yet again.
With the run support for our Ace’s seemingly sparse it only seems logical to mix up the lineup and add so more pop. We seem to be desperately watching for the return of Chase Utley to somehow restore Utley magic to the lineup. Realistically it is going to take #26 some time to get adjusted to big league pitching. But then again who am I kidding, Chase Utley is the man!
Utley will play tonight for Class A Clearwater making it back-to-back games for the second time in his official rehab. Utley was set to play 9 innings in Bradenton yesterday but the box score indicated he only played 7. It is still encouraging to see him playing back-to-back games. Let’s hope this translates into Utley rejoining the team for the upcoming home stand starting on Wednesday.
The success of our young bullpen has been tremendous. A 5-4 victory Friday night in Atlanta was preserved with a three inning shutout from the pen. Young guns Michael Stutes and Antonio Bastardo got the Phillies out of a bases-loaded jam in the 7th. The young arms seemed relaxed and unfazed in a key situation for the Phillies. Vance Worley came in the 8th as the setup man for closer Ryan Madson. Madson has been perfect so far this season in save opportunities making you wonder what Charlie will do with LOL when he is finally healthy.
If your calendar is still free for June 15, or even if it isn’t, I suggest you take part in the Phillies doubleheader vs. the Fish. A makeup of the April 16 rainout will bring the Fish to town for 4 games in 3 days. I have been to doubleheaders in each of the past two seasons and honestly a day filled with baseball is a day you do not want to miss. The Phillies will play the first game at 1:05 with the conclusion of the doubleheader at 7:05.
With 25 wins, the most wins in baseball, it is very clear that the Phillies despite all the injuries and slumps are still the best team in baseball. The positives greatly outweigh the negatives and as phans we are quick to judge because we expect perfection out of this team. The truth is that the season is long and injuries and slumps are a part of the game. We are just now getting into what Charlie calls “hittin’ season” and the best is yet to come.