Hump Day Report: Phillies In Dog Days
Rants and raves about burning topics that have caught my attention midweek, be it greedy corporate shenanigans, frustration or joy in regards to the Philly sports teams, a movie or DVD that has fired up my imagination, an intriguing personality, or my on-going battle to lose weight in our fast food world. — Lori Hoffman, Associate Editor, Atlantic City Weekly
I refuse to worry about the Phillies, despite all the pitching upheaval. This time last year we were clinging to first place, with a very competitive Mets squad ready to strike and pass us. Which they did, but the final results in October were what counted.
Summer is still here and the living is easy and we still have the lead in the NL East. The Mets are in shambles, the Fish are tough right now but will wilt eventually, and the Braves might wind up being the last competition standing in the division.
So what if Brad Lidge is no longer “Light-Out” Lidge? So what if his nickname should be “All-the-lights-are-on” Lidge? All right, I’m concerned after another blown save last night, but I refuse to go crazy. It is not as if Lidge has become the reincarnation of Mitch “Wild Thing” Williams. Boy, did we have some fun with him in 1993. Yes, Lidge seems to have lost his confidence and his control. It is an issue and a solution does not seem to be available at the moment. Ryan Madsen flunked when he had the job, and right now he is pitching better in his more comfortable set up role. Brett Myers will be back in the pen by season’s end, but can he take that closer spot, coming back from hip surgery? It’s a big question mark.
GM Ruben Amaro Jr. addressed the starting pitching problem with Cliff Lee. Has he been fun to watch or what? Tonight we begin the great Pedro experiment. I wasn’t enthusiastic about the signing, but the way Jamie “I was misled” Moyer is pitching, it can’t hurt to take a look. J.A. Happ pitched great last night after a shaky couple of innings. He was impressive when he limited the damage after loading the bases with none out.
It would be nice if Cole Hamels would find his mojo again, and Joe Blanton has been the quiet, steady righty arm all year long.
We lost our big lead in the division not because of the pitching anyway, but because the heart of the order — Chase Utley, Ryan Howard, Raul Ibanez — went into a homer drought and collective slump together, just when J-Roll was finding his stroke again big time. I’m really not worried about the hitting. This power outage will not last forever; these hitters are too good.
Looking ahead to the schedule, a win tonight for Pedro against the Cubs would be a terrific boost to the Phillies. The rest of the month includes an important series with Atlanta; a quick stop home for three against Arizona (we should take 2 of 3); a big four-game series against the Mets in New York (let’s take three), followed by three games in Pittsburgh and three more games at home against the Braves. There are ample opportunities to pad our lead in the East with 10 games against division rivals, plus the Pirates and Diamondbacks.
Me worry? Well, not enough to get heartburn anyway, although I might throw something at the TV if Lidge blows another save.