Hump Day Report: Phillies Comeback Brewing
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, show or DVD that has fired up my imagination, an intriguing personality, or what’s happening in the region. — Lori Hoffman, Associate Editor, Atlantic City Weekly.
The Phillies have won four games in a row. From 2007 to 2011 that news would have caused nary a ripple in the minds of the Phillies phaithful since we had become so accustomed to winning. However in 2012, after a horrible, injury-marred first half in which the Phillies were mired in last place with a record that went as low as 14 games under 500, a four-game winning streak provides a glimmer of hope.
Maybe that horrible first half was an “Invasion of the Body Snatchers” plot — those players with no spark, making all those errors and not hitting and not pitching, they had to be pod people with no emotion, right? They weren’t our Phillies.
Now, however, Roy Halliday is back from the disabled list and pitched professionally last night in a 3-2 victory. For the first time this year, the Phillies won a game they were losing in the seventh inning. Before Hunter Pence knocked in two runs in the eighth inning last night, the Phillies were 0-38 when trailing in the seventh inning. Like I said, it had to be pod people wearing red pinstripes.
Now Chase Utley and Ryan Howard are back. They are not exactly playing like superstars, but they are getting back in the flow. And, with their return, everybody else is where they belong: Pence battling fifth or sixth, Chooch battling fifth, Juan Pierre batting seventh, and the extra men like Ty Wigginton, Mike Fontenot and John Mayberry, Jr. are extra men once again.
With the return of Utley and Howard, you can sense that the team is feeling better. Even the non-Papelbon relief pitchers provided three clean innings before Papelbon came in and shut the door on the Dodgers last night.
Cliff Lee, who is pitching as I write this, has to do better than 1-6 in the second half. He is exhibit number one when it comes to my pod people theory. Shane Victorino is exhibit number two. Yo, Shane, there is no sulking in baseball, at least not by the team’s top cheerleader. We want our real “Flying Hawaiian” back.
Okay so the offense looks better with Utley and Howard back. However, the only chance the Phillies have of pulling off an epic comeback and grabbing a wild card spot is the relief pitching. We need an upgrade to help rebuild the bridge from the starters to Papelbon. He doesn’t have to be top-of-the-line; a professional, experienced pitcher will do.
The Phillies’ chance of making the playoffs is still slim unless we can ship a truckload of pods to Washington, DC and Atlanta.
However, a slim chance is better than no chance at all.