All Pieces In Place – It’s Time To Put Up Or Shut Up

Doc’s Return Marks Phils Return To Health

by Charles Oliver aka Bloggo Schloggo

Now that all the major pieces to the Phillies puzzle are back in place and healthy there are no excuses. It’s now or never time to make a strong run in the second half of the season for a chance at the post season. With the addition of a second wild card spot available this year the Phils still have a valid shot at competing in October. It’s going to be quite a chore and an uphill battle requiring lots of winning. Skipper Manuel has had a way of steering the team into playing it’s best baseball after the all-star game while running the Phillies show as recent history shows.

The Phillies logo during their 1950 World Seri...

The Phillies logo during their 1950 World Series year.

The Phils won 102 games last year and had the best record in baseball. This year they are going to have to play their hearts out with little room for error to win 88 games which is probably about what they’ll need to make it in as a wild card.

There has been a lot of chatter about the Phils being sellers before the trading deadline. I for one believe that would be a bad move. Especially dumping Cole Hamel who has been the teams most consistent starter this year. The team basically has the same starting line-up and starting pitching staff as last year which is an array of proven winners. With everyone back and active off the DL there is no reason why with the level of talent they that they have can’t find their way back to becoming consistent winners.

The main issues they now face are crawling out of the deep hole they dug for themselves in the first half of the season and the talent performing up to its capabilities.

As I write this the Phils have won 3 games in a row with Doc on the mound tonight against the Dodgers. Ryan Howard hit his 1st home run of the season last night. It was to left field which is a good sign anytime Howard is projecting his power to the opposite field. Halladay having a strong performance tonight and another Phils win could be the start of something good. Psychologically the club could get a major boost and start playing with the fire we’ve seen in recent past seasons when they were perennial division champs.

Ryan Howard

Ryan Howard

The Nationals aren’t going away and have proven they are for real. Catching and over taking them at this point is pretty much all but an impossibility. Stranger things have happened though. As we remember last season the Cardinals weren’t on anyone’s radar and we know what they did much to the chagrin of Phillies fans figuring the Phightins were on their way to another World Series and once again being world champions.

The Mets, Marlins and Braves also will have a large say in where the Phillies fortunes take them. It’s a tough division to find yourself 13 games off the pace and sitting in the cellar. The Phils are 10 games behind with an elimination number of 63 with 61 games left to make it as a wild card. There isn’t much wiggle room there. They are ranked 9th in the wild card standings.

The Phillies main weakness is not getting hits when it really counts. They are hitting the ball ranking 2nd only behind the Cardinals with 827 total hits. However they are ranked  6th and 7th in runs scored and RBIs – with 386 and 370 respectively. How many times have we seen runners in scoring position zero to two outs left standing there as an inning or game ends?

PHILLIES 2011 Post All-Star Break Hitting Stats

RK   G     AB    R     H     2B  3B HR SB

6th  977 2473 329 633  120 18  75  35

RBI  BB  SO SB CS AVG OBP SLG OPS

316  232 467 35  13  .256 .323  .410 .733

PHILLIES 2011 Post All-Star Break Pitching Stats

RK    W  L  ERA   G   GS  SV  SVO    IP        H

12th  45 26 3.02  242  71   22   28     645.2  580

R   ER  HR  BB SO  AVG WHIP

234 217 57 178 593 .241   1.17

Post Script—–  Watching tonight’s game and Doc’s return to the mound. Ryan Howard took a 4 pitch walk. Batting .143 it was refreshing not to see the big guy swing at a pitch miles outside of the strike zone. Despite the homer last night he still looks uncomfortable at the plate as he did last season. Letting pitches he should cream float on by and swinging and lunging at pitches he couldn’t reach or hit with the side of a barn.

Through the first 5 innings Halladay has looked very good yielding 2 runs and having good command of his pitches. The Phils batters have managed but one run having left runners on second base in three innings against a rookie making his first MLB start named Fife. His performance thus far has not been Barney Fife like.

Hunter Pence

Hunter Pence

Howard walked again in the 6th. Maybe he should concentrate on walks and let Chooch take care of the clean up duties. Hunter Pence batting .224 with two outs and runners in scoring position punched a single out to Kemp and appeared to have scored Howard. The ump said he was out. It looked like Howard had got his hand on home plate before the tag. Having seen the replay it’s hard to tell. Whatever it was close but, just another zero on the scoreboard.

In the 8th Pence batted with the bases loaded, two out and hit a single up the middle scoring two. Ruiz was cut down sliding into 3rd to end the inning. The Phils had only 4 hits in the game before Pence’s timely two run single. Phils take the lead 3-2.

For the first time in their last 39 games trailing after 7 innings the Phillies turned it around and won the game. Another healthy sign. Papelbon got the save. That’s 4 wins in a row. They are doing what they have to do. Will their winning ways continue? It’s a mighty tough mountain to climb. Time will tell.

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