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 are hot and are at home for their longest stretch of the season, with two more games against the Giants, three games against Washington and four games against Houston. Add in the return of Chase Utley, and the expected return of Ryan Howard later this week, and the Fightins should be in first place soon — at least on paper. Problem is, the games aren’t played on paper.
During what looks like a soft stretch for the Phils, excluding the two games with the Giants, Atlanta is not exactly facing murder’s row themselves. They have two more games at home against Washington (where they are 43-16, the best home record in the majors), followed by a road trip against the fading Cubs and three against Colorado, ten games back in the west.
Both the Phillies and the Braves have great starting pitching and have done well despite major injuries (Chipper Jones is lost for the season). The Braves have the better bullpen but the Phillies have a much better offense.
When the Phillies still had their best players on the field, they had a horrible stretch beginning in late May. The entire team went in a slump that could really not be explained. Three shutout losses to the Mets was the nadir of that stretch.
In the same way, the Phillies going 19-5 while Utley was out, Placido Polanco was just getting back and both Shane Victorino and Howard landed on the DL cannot be explained either.
Sure, Raul Ibanez and Jayson Werth got hot, Carlos Ruiz delivered key hits, GM Ruben Amaro, Jr. got Roy Oswalt, and the back end of the bullpen started pitching like it was 2008 again, but Jimmy Rollins was still popping up on the first pitch and the middle relief was no relief at all.