Tagged: Shea Stadium

Welcoming a cross-state rival, trying to see if they can send same packing with a series loss.

The Phillies (62-52) will be welcoming back to Philadelphia the once proud Pirates (52-62, 5th National League Central) for a three games weekend series. The first game of the series will be played tonight at Citizens Bank Park. The game will start at 7:05 pm Eastern. The Phillies’ starter will be Joe Blanton (6-12, 4.94), who is coming off his first victory as a Phil against the Cardinals on August 2, when he went seven very strong innings, giving up only an earned run on four hits, in the Phillies’ 2-1 win. This will be his first career start against the Bucos. He will be looking for his second win as a Phil, eating up the innings as he does so, while trying to continue Pittsburgh’s present woes. His opponent will be Pete Maholm (7-7, 3.95), who is coming off a lost to the Cubs on August 2, as he got bombed by the presently mighty Cubs, giving up five earned in six innings of work on eight hits, in the Pirates’ 5-1 lost. He has faced the Phillies earlier this year, pitching a complete game against them on April 27, giving up only one earned run on two hits, in the Pirates’ 5-1 win. He hopes to improve his present record while hoping that the Phillies’ batters won’t do any better against him this time around.

There are presently rumbling among both the fan blogs’ and Philly sports writers over the inconsistenty of the Phillies’ offense, an offense that for one or several days will score five or more runs without any problem, and the next can’t seem to be able to even buy a run, making the opposing starter look like Cy Young in the process, while forcing their own starters to be almost picture perfect with some very sad results. I don’t know if this goes back to hitting coach Milt Thompson or not, but it does go to how this team is built. Too much concentration on the long ball and too little concentration on having guys, especially those in the 6-7-8 holes in the battling line-up, being able to make contact to not just put the ball in play, but to follow the late Wee Willie Keeler’s maxim of hitting them where they ain’t, and unfortunately, the guys are hitting them right where the opposition fielders are. And, as I have stated here several times before, they are not doing enough small ball to try and put pressure on the opposition. (Exception being Shane Victorino, as every time he gets on, he puts on the pressure with his threat to steal a base, although I have seem to have noticed a lack of that happening right now. Maybe the home run bug has made him forget about just getting on base and making the defense nervous?) So, if it is Milt Thompson, I have this question: Is there anyone in the present organization who can make these guys do the little things, i.e., small ball, whether they like it or not, and can do it as soon as he shows up? If there isn’t such a person, then firing Thompson now won’t mean anything if they don’t have anyone waiting in the wings who can take charge as soon as he arrive and show these home run hitters the reality that small ball helps a lot more than home runs when it come to be a more consistent run scoring team.

The Phillies’ lead over the Marlins is a game and a half and two games over the Mets as the two teams prepare to face each other at Shea Stadium for a weekend series. The Phillies lead the Braves by nine and a half games as the Braves’ win over the Diamondbacks in Arizona. The Phillies will be trying to take advantage of the once powerful Pirates and try to come away with a sweep at best or a series win at worst while hoping that their two nearest rivals in the East will end up cancelling each other out by the time the weekend is over.

Cole Hamels is once again denied his tenth win as Marlins’ pitchers would throw a four hit shutout at the Phillies’ offense.

Cole Hamels is once again denied winning his tenth victory of the season, although he would pitch a lot better than he did in his previous two starts, as the Phillies fall to the Marlins’, 3-0. The Marlins would score their first run in the second when, with a runner on second and two outs, Matt Treanor would hit a RBI single, scoring Dan Uggla, who has gotten on base earlier with a two-out double to give the Marlins a 1-0 lead. The game would then becomes a pitchers’ duel between Hamels and Marlins’ starter Chris Volstad until the sixth, when with a runner on second and two outs, Josh Willingham would hit a RBI double, scoring Jeremy Hermida, who would has earlier singled and stole second, to make it 2-0 Marlins. Then in the seventh, the Marlins’ would score their final run, as, with the bases loaded and one man out, and with Ryan Madson pitching in relief of Hamels, Hanley Ramirez would hit into a RBI ground out, short to first, scoring Cody Ross, who has gotten on base earlier with a single, to make it 3-0 Florida. That would be the final score as Marlins’ pitching would put out the only Phillies’ rally, runners on first and second, with two out in the eighth, as Matt Lindstrom would get Geoff Jenkins to ground out.

Cole Hamels would take the lost, his third lost in his last six starts, which would include three no-decisions, for which the Phillies are 2-1, as he would pitch six and a third innings, giving up three runs, two of which were earned, on seven hits. His record is now 9-8 with a 3.35 ERA. Ryan Madson would pitch two thirds of an inning, giving up no runs on no hits. Clay Condrey and Brad Lidge would each pitch a scoreless inning, giving up only two hits, both against Lidge. Chris Volstad would get the win, as he throws six scoreless innings, as he three hits the Phils. His record is now 3-2 with a 2.67 ERA. Joe Nelson, Arthur Rhodes and Matt Lindstrom would combine to pitch two scoreless innings against the Phillies, giving up only one hit between them (Rhodes). Kevin Gregg would get the save, his twenty-fifth of the year, as he pitches a scoreless ninth.

The Phillies’ offense would once again be put to sleep as they are only able to get three hits, all singles against Volstad, while getting only four hits overall, with the last one being their lone extra-base hit, a double. Seriously, what is it going to take for the offense to stop Randy Lerching Cole Hamels, forcing him to be practically near perfect to win his starts? Something has got to give, either him telling his teammates off, or the offense starting to crank out runs. Hopefully it’ll be the later and not the former.

The Phillies (62-52) will continue their six games home stand as they prepare to welcome the lowly Pirates (52-62, 5th National League Central) for three weekend games. The first game will be played tomorrow night at Citizens Bank Park. The game will start at 7:05 pm Eastern. The Phillies’ starter will be Joe Blanton (6-12, 4.94), who is coming off his first victory as a Phil against the Cardinals on August 2, as he went seven innings, giving up only an earned run on four hits, in the Phillies’ 2-1 win. This will be his first start against the Bucos since being traded to the Phillies. He will be looking for his second win as a Phil while trying to continue Pittsburgh’s present woes. His opponent will be Pete Maholm (7-7, 3.95), who is coming off a lost to the Cubs on August 2, as he got bombed by the Cubbies, giving up five earned in six innings of work on eight hits, in the Pirates’ 5-1 lost. He has faced the Phillies earlier this year, pitching a complete game against them on April 27, giving up only one earned run on two hits. He hopes to improve his record while hoping that the Phillies’ batters won’t do any better against him this time around.

The Phillies lead against the Marlins is now down to a game and a half thanks to the lost, as the Marlins go on to New York to face the Mets. The Mets now trail by two games, defeating the Padres, as they prepare to welcome the Marlins at Shea Stadium. The Braves presently trail the Phillies by ten games as they start a four games series with the Diamondbacks in Arizona. The Phillies will be trying to put a little distance between them and their nearest opponent as they prepare to face one of the weakest teams in the National League while hoping that the Mets and the Marlins will hurt each other during their three games series.

The Phillies’ offense vanishes again as they lose to the Mets, 6-3.

The Phillies’ offense would perform its usual vanishing act as they fall to the Mets, 6-3, once again ending up being tied with the Mets for first place in the East. The Phillies’ returning starter Brett Myers would start out with his familiar first inning problems. After getting Jose Reyes to ground out, second to first, Myers would give up three straight walks to Endy Chavez, David Wright and Carlos Delgado to load the bases. He would then give up his fourth straight pass to Carlos Beltran, forcing in Chavez, to give the Mets a 1-0 lead, while leaving the bases still loaded. Marlon Anderson would then make it 2-0 Mets, as he would hit a ground ball that would get pass Ryan Howard, but would be grabbed by Chase Utley, who would throw it over to Myers for the second out, while Wright scores and Delgado and Beltran both move up a base. Myers would finally get out of the inning on a ground out by Damion Easley, third to first. The Phillies would then tie the game in the second when Shane Victorino and Geoff Jenkins would hit back-to-back home runs off of Mets’ starter John Maine. Victornio’s home run would be his seventh home run of the year while Jenkins’ would be his ninth home run of the year. The Mets would retake the lead in the third as another walk would get Myers into trouble. After getting Chavez to ground out, second to first, Myers would give up his fifth and final walk to Wright. He would then hit Delgado, after getting ahead of him, to put two men on base. Beltran would then get a single, the first Mets’ hit of the game, to load the bases. Myers would then get Anderson to strike out for the inning’s second out. But he would then give up a single to Easley, which would knock in Wright to give the Mets a 3-2 lead. Brian Schneider would then ground out, second to first, to end the inning. The Phillies would retie the game in the fifth, as Jimmy Rollins would hit a RBI double, scoring Carlos Ruiz, who has earlier singled. The Mets would then take the lead for good in the sixth inning as Reyes would hit a three-run home run off of Ryan Madson, his eleventh home run of the year, scoring Easley and Schneider, who have both gotten on base with singles, to give the Mets a 6-3 lead. That would end up being the final score as Billy Wagner would come in the ninth to record his twenty-fifth save of the year.

Brett Myers would get a no-decision as he pitches a somewhat awful five innings, giving up three earned runs on six hits, while walking five batters and hitting another, three of whom would later score. Ryan Madson would take the lost, as he pitches an inning, giving up three earned runs on four hits. His record is now 2-1 with a 3.14 ERA. Clay Condrey would pitch two innings, giving up no runs on three hits. John Maine would get the win, going seven innings, giving up three earned runs on six hits. His record is now 9-7 with a 4.20 ERA. Scott Schoeneweis would pitch two-thirds of an inning, giving up no runs on no hits. Joe Smith would pitch a third of an inning, giving up no runs on no hits. Billy Wagner would come in in the ninth and record his twenty-fifth save of the year as he would go an inning, giving up no runs on no hits.

Once again the inconsistent Phillies’ offense, after performing a spectular come from behind victory on Tuesday night, would do almost nothing on Wednesday night, as they lose to the Mets. Once again, someone need to come out and act like a team leader and start telling the others what they need to do if they are going to win the division again. Otherwise, they are going to go nowhere when the post-season comes around.

The three games series between the Phillies (54-47) and the Mets (54-47) will conclude this afternoon from Shea Stadium. The game will begin at 12:10 pm Eastern. The Phillies will send to the mound Jamie Moyer (9-6, 3.90), who is coming off an excellent start against the Marlins on July 18, going six innings, giving up only two earned runs on four hits, in the Phillies’ 4-2 win. Moyer has won his last two starts, giving up two earned runs or less in both starts. He will be trying for his tenth win of the year while trying to put the Phillies back into sole possession of first place. The Mets will counter with Oliver Perez (6-6, 4.36), who is coming off a lost against the Reds on July 19, going six innings as well, while giving up three runs, two of which were earned, on six hits, in the Mets’ 7-2 lost. He will be trying to record his seventh win of the year while trying to give the Mets the lead in the East.

The Phillies are once again tied for first place with the Mets while they prepare to face the Mets in the rubber game of their three games series. The Marlins continue to trail by a game as they’d lost to the Braves. They will now start a four games series against the National League Central leading Chicago Cubs at Chicago. The Braves are now traling the Phils and the Mets by six games as they take the day off, before they meet the Phillies at Citizens Bank Park for a three games weekend series. The Phillies will be trying to gain their first series win of the second half while trying to regain sole control of first place in the East before going back home to meet the Braves.

Continuing their series in New York, still battling for first place.

The Phillies (54-46) will continue their three games series with the Mets (53-47) tonight at Shea Stadium. The game will begin at 7:10 pm Eastern. The Phillies will be sending to the mound Brett Myers (3-9, 5.84), who is coming back from a month-long minor league stint to recover both his fast ball and his confidence. His last start was back on June 27, involved in a no-decision against the Rangers, where he would only pitch two innings, giving up two earned runs on five hits, in the Phillies’ 8-7 lost. The Phillies will be hoping that his stint in the minor league has actually brought back both his fast ball and his confidence. The Mets will be countering with John Maine (8-7, 4.22), who is coming off a lost to the Reds on July 18, as he would go four and two-thirds innings, giving up five earned runs on five hits, in the Mets’ 5-2 lost. He will be going for his ninth win of the year while trying to help the Mets forget about the previous night’s shocking lost.

The Phillies will be going for a series win tonight, trying to build momentum from last night’s surprising come from behind while also trying to win their second straight games in a series. Although it is only July, this series could be end up being the turning point of the entire season, especially with the way they game back to win against a Mets’ bullpen that did not have the services of the team closer Billy Wagner, who presently have shoulders problem. Although listed as day-to-day, he claimed that he be willing to pitch if needed. Well, the Mets certainly needed him last night to help stop the Phillies’ late eruption. The fact that he did not appear last night makes me curious as to how bad his shoulder actually is, in spite of the MRI that was taken of his shoulder turning negative. Guess we’ll all find out if he will be able to pitch for the Mets tonight if a save opportunity looms.

The Phillies have a one game lead over both the second place Mets and Marlins, while their lead over the Braves is now at seven. The Marlins and the Braves will conclude their three games series in Miami, before the Marlins go on to start a four games series with the National League best Chicago Cubs (Can you say posiible fish food for bears? :)) and the Braves have a day off before they come to Philadelphia to start a three games weekend series with the Phillies at Citizens Bank Park. The Phillies will be looking to increase their lead against the Mets during the rest of the series, and stay in first place, before seeing if they can bury the Braves real deep in fourth place in the NL East this upcoming weekend. 

Phillies rally to score six runs in the ninth off of a Wagner-less Mets’ bullpen to beat the Mets, 8-6.

The Phillies rally to score six runs in the top of the ninth inning off of a Billy Wagner-less Mets’ bullpen while new Phil Joe Blanton is unable to contain the Mets in his first start as a Phil as the Phillies defeat the Mets, 8-6. The Phillies would take a quick lead in the first as Jayson Werth would hit a two out RBI single off of Mets’ starter Johan Santana, scoring Pat Burrell, who has earlier singled, to give the Phillies a 1-0 lead. That would remain the score until the bottom of the third when Phillies’ starter Blanton would give up a RBI double to David Wright, knocking in Jose Reyes, who has earlier walked, to tie the game at one all. But Endy Chavez, who has singled earlier, would try to score on the play, but is instead thrown out at home plate, Burrell to Jimmy Rollins to Carlos Ruiz, who would put the tag on Chavez for the first out of the inning. Two batters later, with Wright still on second base, and with two outs, Carlos Delgado would hit his nineteenth home run of the year, a two-run shot that would give the Mets a 3-1 lead. In between the third and fourth innings, Charlie Manuel would be ejected from the game for arguing balls and strikes with the third base umpire as the Phillies believed that Delgado had struck out on an 0-2 pitch while the umpire claimed that he had checked his swing. The Mets would increase their lead in the sixth, when, with a runner on first, Marlon Anderson, via a walk, and with two outs, Ramon Castro would hit his fifth home run of the year, giving the Mets a 5-1 lead. In the meantime, Santana would keep the Phillies off the scoreboard, until the seventh, when Shane Victorino would hit his sixth home run of the year, a solo shot, that would cut the Mets’ lead to 5-2. The Mets would try to break the game wide open in their half of the seventh as Rudy Seanez replaces Blanton on the mound. Seanez would give up a lead-off double to Chavez. Chavez would then attempt to score on a single to right by Wright. But, for the second time in the game, he would be thrown out at the plate, this time from Werth to Coste, who tagged him out for the first out of the inning. On the throw home, Wright would move to second. Seanez would then intentionally walk Carlos Beltran, putting runners on first and second. The Phillies would then replace Seanez with J.C. Romero. Romero would get Delgado to fly out to center for the second out. But he would then hit Damion Easley to load the bases. Romero would then get out of the inning as he would get pinch hitter Fernando Tatis to line out to Chase Utley. In the ninth inning, the Mets would replace Santana with Duaner Sanchez, thinking that the game was over. The Phillies would soon make them think otherwise. Werth would greet Sanchez with a single. Pinch hitter Greg Dobbs would follow with a single, sending Werth to second. Victorino would follow with a single, loading the bases. The Mets would then replace Sanchez with Joe Smith, as they hope that Ruiz would hit into a rally-killing double play. Ruiz would hit a ground ball  to shortstop Reyes, but Reyes would somehow miss the second base bag as a hostling Victornio would reach second on the fielder’s choice ground ball. The bases thus remain loaded as Werth scores to make it a 5-3 game. The Phils would then send out Geoff Jenkins as a pinch hitter, but he would never reach the plate as the Mets would replace Smith with Pedro Feliciano, while the Phillies would counter with So Taguchi, who was so far 0-for-16 as a pinch hitter. Taguchi would this time connect as he would hit a two-run double, scoring both Dobbs and Victorino and sending Ruiz to third, as the game was now tied at five all. Rollins would then follow with a two-run double of his own, scoring both Ruiz and Taguchi, to give the Phillies a 7-5 Phillies. Utley would then ground out to first for the first out of the inning, moving Rollins over to third. Burrell is then intentionally walked, putting runners on the corners, and setting up the double play. Ryan Howard would hit a ground ball straight to Feliciano, who would then drop the ball, before picking it up and throwing out Howard, as Rollins scores to make it 8-5 Phillies, while Burrell would go to second. Aaron Heilman is then sent into the game to replace Feliciano. Heilman would walk Werth, the man who has started the inning off, putting runners on first and second, with two outs. Heliman would then get Dobbs to pop up to Reyes to end the inning. In the bottom of the ninth, the Phillies would send out their closer Brad Lidge to end the game. He starts the inning off by walking Chavez. Chavez would then go to second on defensive indifference. Lidge would then strike out Wright for the inning’s first out. Chavez would then go to third on a Lidge’s wild pitch before finally scoring on a ground out to first by Beltran, for the second out, making the score 8-6 Phillies. That would be the final score as Lidge would get Delgado to ground out, third to first for the final out, as he records his twenty-second straight save, tying the team’s record for most consecutive saves in a row set a few years earlier by Billy Wagner.

Joe Blanton would get a no-decision, as he pitches six innings in his first start as a Phil, giving up five earned runs on eight hits. Rudy Seanez would pitch a third of an inning, giving up no runs on two hits. J.C. Romero would pitch two thirds of an inning, giving up no runs on no hits. Chad Durbin would get the victory as he goes an inning, giving up no runs on no hits. His record is now 3-2 with an ERA of 1.78. Brad Lidge would record his twenty-second save, as he goes an inning, giving up an earned run on no hits. Johan Santana would also get a no-decision, going eight innings, giving up only two runs on eight scattered hits. The Mets bullpen would then take over and implode as the team’s closer, Billy Wagner, would be unavailable to pitch. Duaner Sanchez would face three batters, giving up three earned runs on three hits. Joe Smith would take the loss as he face only one batter, giving up an earned run on no hits. His record is now 1-2 with a 3.12 ERA. Pedro Feliciano would get his second blown save, as he goes two-thirds of an inning, giving up two earned runs on two hits. Aaron Heilman would pitch a third of an inning, giving up no runs on no hits.

The Phillies have won the game by doing something that they haven’t been able to do too much of since May, come back from behind in the ninth inning to win a game while trailing by several runs. Of course, they did it after the Mets have taken out their starter, Johan Santana, who for the third time this season has pitched a quality start against the Phillies. The Phillies would be able to produce a rally in the ninth inning, because of the use of small ball, hustling on the part of Shane Victorino on Carlos Ruiz’s ground ball, luck (Jose Reyes missing second base on Ruiz’s grounder, and Pedro Feliciano’s bobbling of Howard’s ground ball to him with the chance for an inning ending double play), some situational hitting by Chase Utley to move Jimmy Rollins over to third, and, lastly, So Taguchi finally getting a pinch hit when the Phillies needed it the most. Whether this will be the turning point of the season, or just a temporary blip on the radar screen will be found out during the next two games of the series.

The Phillies (54-46) will continue their three games series with the Mets (53-47) tomorrow night at Shea Stadium. The game will begin at 7:10 pm Eastern. The Phillies starter will be Brett Myers (3-9, 5.84), who is coming back from a minor league stint to recover both his fast ball and his confidence. His last start was back on June 27 in a no-decision against the Rangers, where he would only pitch two innings, giving up two earned runs on five hits, in the Phillies’ 8-7 lost. The Phillies will be hoping that his stint in the minor league has actually brought back both his fast ball and his confidence. The Mets will send to the mound John Maine (8-7, 4.22), who is coming off a lost to the Reds on July 18, as he goes four and two-thirds innings, giving up five earned runs on five hits, in the Mets’ 5-2 lost. He will be going for his ninth win of the year while trying to help the Mets get over their previous night’s lost.

The Phillies, with their win, have regain sole control of first place, while they now lead both the Mets and the Marlins by one game and the Braves by seven, thanks to the Braves’ lost to the fish last night. The Phillies will now try to build momentum from their come from behind win as they attempt for either a series sweep or a series win before heading back home to meet the Braves at Citizens Bank Park for a three games weekend series.

Phillies enter New York, hoping to leave still in first place.

The Phillies (53-46) goes to New York to meet the Mets (53-46) for an important three games series for first place in the National League East. The first game of the series will be played tonight in Shea Stadium and will start at 7:10 pm Eastern. The Phillies will send to the mound their new acquistion, Joe Blanton (5-12, 4.96), who is pitching for the first time since his start as an Oakland Athletics against the Mariners back on July 9. That would end up being his twelfth lost of the season, as he would pitch six innings, giving up six earned runs on nine hits, in the A’s 4-6 lost. This will be both Blanton’s first start as a Phillie, and his first start as a National League pitcher. But this will not be the first time that he has faced the Mets. In two previous starts, for the A’s, he has shut them down for fifteen innings, giving up no runs. This will be Blanton’s first start in thirteen days and the Phillies hope that he will be well rested and ready to continue his success against the Mets, as the Phillies will try to win their first series of the second half and regain control of first place. The Mets’ starter will be Johan Santana (8-7, 3.10), who is coming off a no-decision against the Reds on July 17, as he would last only four innings, giving up five earned runs on six hits, in the Mets’ 10-8 come from behind victory. Santana has lost four of his last seven starts, during which his record would be 1-4 with two no-decisions, both of which were lost by the Mets, where he would pitch a combine total of forty-five innings, giving up eleven earned runs on thirty-eight hits. His last start against the Phillies was on July 4, one of his two no-decisions, during which he would go eight innings, giving up only two earned runs on six hits, in the Mets’ 3-2 lost. This year, his record against the Phils is 1-0, with a no-decision, where he has given up five earned runs in fifteen innings of work. He will be trying for his ninth win of the year while trying to set up the tone for the Mets’ series with the presently floundering Phils.

The Phillies’ offense will be once again trying to regain the potent offense that they had in late May and early June, which seems to have vanished after their twenty run outburst in St. Louis on June 13. The Phillies have not done too well this season against divisional opponents, outside of the Atlanta Braves, presently being only 3-7 against the Mets. The Phillies will be trying for their first series win against the Mets, as well as of the second half, as they hope to take advantage of Mets’ closer Billy Wagner’s present day-to-day status because of a bad shoulder. But, in order to do that, they will need to start playing more situational baseball, the lack of which manager Charlie Manuel has blasted them about after losing Sunday’s game with the fish. If they don’t, they will definately be saying hello to the Nationals before the end of August.

The Phillies are presently tied with the Mets’ for first place in the National League East, both leading the Marlins by a full game, and the Braves by six, after the Braves’ defeat of the fish last night in Miami in the first game of a three games set between the two teams.

Phillies start off the second half of the season visiting the Marlins in Miami, trying to get their groove back.

The Phillies (52-44) will start the second half of the season with a three games weekend visit with the Marlins (50-45) in Miami. The first game of their three games series will be played at Dolphin Stadium and will start tonight at 7:10 pm Eastern. The Phillies will send to the mound the veteran Jamie Moyer (8-6, 3.95), who is coming off a recent victory against the Cardinals on July 10, where he went seven innings, giving up only one earned run on seven hits, in the Phillies’ 4-1 win. He has already faced the Marlins twice so far this year, winning both starts. In those two games, he has gone a combine total of fifteen innings, giving up just five earned runs on nine hits. He will be going for his ninth win of the season, while trying to start off the Phillies’ second half with a win. He will be opposed by Ricky Nolasco (10-4, 3.70), who is coming off fifth straight wins, although his last start was a no-decision against the Dodgers on July 12, where he went six innings, giving up just two earned runs on five hits, in the Marlins’ 5-3 win. In those five wins, he would go a combine total of thirty-seven and two-thirds innings, giving up only six earned runs on twenty-four hits. He has already faced the Phillies twice this year, winning both starts, going twelve and two-thirds innings, giving up only two earned runs on eight hits. He will be going for his eleventh victory of the season, while also trying to set the tone for the Marlins’ second half, especially after Andrew Miller has just been put on the disabled list.

As the Phillies get ready to start the second half, they have the knowledge that, like it or not, they are a rather good second half team. They also know that, with the Blanton trade, they now have an overabundance of starters, although not all of them are presently good (Adam Eaton and Brett Myers). The team hopes that either a returning Myers or the newcomer Blanton will become their number two starter, to help balance their ace Cole Hamels, while Jamie Moyer and a continuing to improve and impress Kyle Kendrick will become their no. 3 and 4 pitchers, respectively. And it is rather encouraging to learn that J.A. Happ, in his first start after being sent back to Lehigh Valley, has made a very strong statement to bring him back to the Majors, as he shut down the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Yankees in seven innings of scoreless baseball. At this point, the odd men out appear to be Eaton and Myers, with Eaton being the most in danger of saying good bye to Phillies’ pinstripes at the moment. Myers would be next, especially as long as he continues to be a headcase if he doesn’t show any improvement after coming back from the Iron Pigs and Reading. But with all that said and done, the Phillies still need to find a new reliever, preferably a leftie, to help the bullpen pick up the slack while Tom Gordon is still out and to help take some of the pressure off him when he returns. Lastly, hopefully the All-Star break will have done most of the players some good, especially Jimmy Rollins, who the Phillies need to get on base to help jump start the offense. (Jay-Ro, a word of advice, please lay off the first few pitches that are thrown at you, unless you are very, very sure that you can hit it away from a fielder. That’s all I’m asking. Be more selective at the plate. Oh, and Ryan Howard, will you please stop swinging at pitches that you can’t reach. Please???? The sooner you do, the sooner the pitchers will stop throwing their junk at you.)

The Phillies will begin their second half now tied for first place with the Mets, who will be continuing a four games series with the Reds in Cincinnati. The third place Marlins are trailing both teams by a game and a half as they prepare to host the visiting Phillies. The fourth place Braves trails the two division leaders by six and a half game as they prepare to host the Nationals for three games. The Phillies hope to perform better against Eastern Division rivals that are not the Braves, while trying to get back sole control of first place against the presently streaking Mets and the pesky fish.