Cliff Lee toed the rubber for the Philadelphia Phillies in their first game of the second season. With nothing to play for, will they pile up some wins?
I will publish after every battle that is not washed out. I will have many summer-long highlights of puzzle pieces, especially important after drubbings and defeats. If you were directed here by a feed and this review does not mention yesterday’s contest, please go to the Phillies page for my most recent coverage. (Early morning readers may arrive before the latest post.) Scroll down to Tal’s Handy Links at the bottom. Thank you.
CAP-SIZE HINDSIGHT: 8-0 Triumph
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The Pressure Is Off:
The huge stone of playoff baseball has been rolled off their backs. The last time this happened the red pinstripes relaxed, enjoyed solid results and challenged for a postseason wildcard in 2006. The remaining stars are down to the stress level of earning their jobs, which is the lowest bar in the sport. The burden of having to be victorious every day is no longer there.
The number ones, regulars and the rest can chill, performing up to their potential on a daily basis. Usually, an also-ran is loose and can hurt a pressing contender, where every pitch is critical. Before they began their consecutive run of division titles, the Phils were in that exact spot. These clubs are expected to sweep a cellar dweller, like the hometown 9. The writers only look at the record of 46-57 to reach that conclusion. Therefore, the Dodgers, Giants, Pirates, Cards, Reds, Nats and Braves will be criticized for not taking every series from Cholley’s boys.
This crew demonstrated past glory last night in Washington with Lee on the bump. The offense will now be: Jimmy Rollins, Juan Pierre, Chase Utley, Ryan Howard, Chooch Ruiz and Dom Brown. Brown has a restructured swing, an improved defense in all outfield positions, and a 2-month window as a starter. 3 aces, 2 solid arms, a top-tier closer and an added bullpen wing are in position for a strong finish to this year. Kyle Kendrick has stabilized the backend, Antonio Bastardo should be more comfortable in his reestablishing-himself assignment, and Josh Lindblom should help. The gloves are above average even with Polly Polanco on the DL.
The last time the Front Office were sellers was in 2006, when they dumped Bobby Abreu’s contract and quit on that campaign. Pat Gillick wanted to ship Pat Burrell out but the Yankees pushed for Abreu. That squad was 44-53 on July 25, but after the deadline passed, they went 41-24 for a 85-77 mark. This group features many of those players, a better roster, more experience but less youthful excitement, and the pride to escape the basement. There will be 2 months of competitive baseball, and they will be in 4th place very soon. This Phoenix can rise from the ashes.
He is 3-3 with a 2.96 away ERA, which is 1.77 lower than at home. He has worked 6.2 innings plus in 5 of 17 appearances with 4 debacles. Against the Nats in early May, his visiting line was: 6 complete, 11 hits, 5 all-earned runs, 2 walks and 4 whiffs on 99 misfired bullets.
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He allows plenty of base-path traffic on most occassions. At the Bank in late May, his ledger read: 7 total, 7 hits, 3 all-earned runs, 2 free passes and 4 K’s on 89 peas. He has lasted 6.1 frames or more in 11 of 19 showings with 6 clunkers.
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Quality number of the pitcher: 1 – 5
Slot on his club: 1 – 5
Ranking is 1 to 5 & 15 for the less adventurous.
*** = Approximately equal to after plus-and-minus computation
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DISPLAY NOTE: Non-listed results can go up or down by
* 1 notch & ** 2 clicks (This note will only appear when it’s relevant.)
* 1 Tick UP
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