In the last two games, the Phillies have scored a total of 15 runs. Since the start of the season, it did not look like that sort of run production was ever going to happen. But Wednesday’s 7-2 win over the Diamondbacks may actually signal the awakening of this offense.
Cole Hamels certainly helped the situation with another great start, putting the Phillies in position to win. Through 8 strong innings, Hamels allowed only 2 runs on 4 hits and struck out 7 batters. He also lit things up at the plate with a 2-run single in the 6th inning.
This game was a real team effort, with everyone in the line-up contributing, even if it was just a sacrifice to move runners. The biggest stand-out though was Placido Polanco who looked like the player of old. He was on base after every at bat with 3 hits, 2 walks and an RBI.
Carlos Ruiz also had a 3-hit game and Hunter Pence collected 2 hits. Now if the Phillies can just get Jimmy Rollins going, this might actually be a descent line-up again.
Thursday is an off-day with a 4-game home series beginning with the Cubs on Friday. You know what the cure for a suffering offense is? That’s right…the Cubs. Cross your fingers…
As you may have heard, relief pitcher Mike Stutes is on the DL. He has not looked the like the vibrant pitcher he was since about the final month of last season. While this is concerning, his replacement, Michael Schwimer looked very sharp in Wednesday’s win.
As for Ryan Howard, he is still taking it easy. But his wound is finally healing which means he may be able to start real baseball activity within the next week.
And my favorite topic of discussion, Chase Utley: Reportedly, Utley is feeling no knee pain while batting and some pain while fielding. He took batting practice in Arizona with the team and many were encouraged by his swing. However, here is a word of caution about all the optimism…
As a person with chronic knee issues, worse that what Utley has, I can tell you this; I also feel no pain while swinging a bat…ok, in my knees at least ;o) The joint rotation does not bother me. However, running and anything involving impact, like chasing ground balls, is a whole other story.
I have not been able to play serious baseball since I was 16 years old after blowing out both my knees. But it was not because I could not still hit; it was because I could not run. All these years later, I can still hit, but I still cannot run and never will. Are you following my thought process here?
Granted, I have worse issues that Utley. But my point is, yes, he looks good hitting. But the real test will be impact movements, like running. The fact that Utley still has some pain while fielding is not a good sign. Running is generally more strenuous than fielding due to the repetition of the impact on the knees. So if it is hard to field, running will only make that worse.
I am a huge Chase Utley fan and I would love nothing more than to see him get better and back to his old self. However, all of this makes me very nervous. If he comes back too early, he can do more damage to his knees. But we all want him to come back sooner than later and I am sure he does as well.
So be optimistic; but be cautiously optimistic.
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Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography