Blog Entry

Phils prove to us (or remind us) they can pitch

Posted on: June 30, 2011 6:32 pm
PHILADELPHIA -- Three games don't tell us whether the Phillies are the best team in baseball.

But 27 games helped remind us why the Phillies are the best team in the National League.

The Phillies didn't prove much by winning two of three from a Red Sox team that has hit what seems to be a small midseason bump in the road. But the Phillies proved plenty by the way they won as many games as any team in the league in June.

No, proved isn't the right word -- what the Phillies did in June reminded us what we already knew, which is that their starting rotation is what makes them great.

Even with Roy Oswalt and Joe Blanton on the disabled list, Phillies starters finished the month with a 1.96 combined ERA. According to Stats, Inc., it's the first time any big-league rotation has gone a full month with a sub-2.00 ERA since July 1992, when both the Braves (with John Smoltz, Tom Glavine and Steve Avery) and the Cubs (with Greg Maddux) did it.

What's more, the top three Phillies starters -- Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee and Cole Hamels -- went 12-2 with a 1.13 ERA in June. Lee threw his third consecutive shutout to beat the Red Sox Tuesday night, and Hamels shut out the Sox for four innings before an Adrian Gonzalez line drive hit his right hand and ended his day early Thursday.

The Red Sox aren't hitting the way they did through May and into early June, and they lost series to the Padres and Pirates before losing two of three in Philadelphia. They'd lost six of seven before beating the Phillies 5-2 on Thursday, but this six of seven feels nothing like the 0-6 and 2-10 start to the season.

The Sox will get Carl Crawford back next week, and general manager Theo Epstein admitted this week that he may feel the need to trade for another hitter. But Epstein showed no great sense of concern when someone mentioned to him that the Yankees had moved into first place in the American League East (not that he should have).

"I thought it would be close all year," he said. "Except for when we were tripping all over ourselves early, it has been."

The NL East hasn't been as close, in part because the Braves haven't proved as formidable an opponent for the Phillies that the Yankees have for the Red Sox, but also because the Phillies' rotation has been so good that they haven't yet had a 1-6 stretch, let alone two of them.

Even so, manager Charlie Manuel keeps insisting that the hitting will be better in the second half (and also keeps suggesting that the Phillies should make a move to acquire another bat).

"People say the pitching will be there every night," Manuel said. "Well, not necessarily."

It has been there just about every night for the Phillies, even with the injuries. In the middle game of the Red Sox series, the Phillies went from Vance Worley to Michael Stutes to Antonio Bastardo -- and still beat the Sox, 2-1.

The Phils, as Manuel said after Hamels' injury scare, can't really afford to lose another starter. But as long as they can keep running Halladay, Lee and Hamels out there in three of every five games (and with Oswalt and Blanton possibly on the way back), it's easy to see this team repeating it's 51-30 first half, and thus topping 100 wins.

"It's fun to watch them go out and operate," first baseman Ryan Howard said. "They give us the opportunity."

The Phillies scored fewer runs in June than the Cubs did. They scored exactly the same number of runs in June that the Nationals did.

Their pitching carried them to a 17-10 month, and their pitching has carried them into first place.

Their pitching helped them win two of three in an interesting but ultimately not too important midseason matchup with the team that might be tops in the American League.

They're not really proving anything we didn't already know. But they sure are reminding us.


Since: Dec 2, 2011
Posted on: January 14, 2012 6:07 am

Phils prove to us (or remind us) they can pitch

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Since: Dec 2, 2011
Posted on: December 30, 2011 11:29 am

Phils prove to us (or remind us) they can pitch

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Since: Nov 19, 2011
Posted on: December 23, 2011 8:21 am

Phils prove to us (or remind us) they can pitch

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Since: Nov 19, 2011
Posted on: December 3, 2011 7:36 am

Phils prove to us (or remind us) they can pitch

Since: Oct 21, 2011
Posted on: October 21, 2011 8:53 pm
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Since: Jan 15, 2009
Posted on: July 1, 2011 5:11 pm

Phils prove to us (or remind us) they can pitch

I don't think it's surprising that the Phillies Gstarting pitching has been so good.  It's a bit surprising that their bullpen has pulled together as it has.  The most surprising factor though is that they keep winning even with key injuries.  I got to see that kid Worley pitch the other night, and he looks pretty good for a 23 year old.  Got a nice array of pitches he can deliver.  If Oswalt returns this season, I can see him taking Blanton's spot.  If not, then Worley should be their #4 pitcher the rest of the way, and in the playoffs.  A young rookie pitching the way he is?  Not a bad solution at the end of an already terrific rotation, with or without Oswalt.

Since: May 19, 2011
Posted on: June 30, 2011 11:05 pm

Really now, Danny?

"Three games don't tell us whether the Phillies are the best team in baseball."

I wholeheartedly agree with that statement. But they most certainly told us who was the better of these two teams.

I also strongly agree with your statement: "The Phillies didn't prove much by winning two of three from a Red Sox team that has hit what seems to be a small midseason bump in the road."

Beating a team that lost three consecutive series (two of those teams numbering among the dregs of their league, that's some "minor" bump) proved only one thing: Boston is still living and believing their pre-season press clippings.

Since: Jul 9, 2009
Posted on: June 30, 2011 10:11 pm

Phils prove to us (or remind us) they can pitch

Danny, you didn't really note that in order for the Red Sox to salvage the last game, they apparently needed an injury to the Phils' starter, who was pitching a shutout through four innings.  They then got 11 hits and five runs off the bullpen.  Yes, I know, that's baseball.  But keep in mind--in thinking about the rest of the season--that the Sox got those runs and hits off three guys who probably won't even be on the Phillies' roster by the end of the season--not on the post-season roster, anyway, which is the only roster the Red Sox will see--if both teams get that far.

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